This past week

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We are back in the school routine now, since yesterday. My daughters were fine going back, although I am sure they would much rather be at home playing! We had a lovely week pottering about the house and seeing a few more friends. I try to be very child centred in the holidays and love to spend time with my daughters. I sometimes hear parents complain that the holidays are too long, but I enjoy having my children at home with me and having fun and adventuring together. I feel very fortunate to be a stay-at-home parent and homemaker and to spend this time with my children. There are sacrifices in this life too, but it is a life I choose willingly.

This week:

*   We made these cheese biscuits, which we quite like. I purchased some bunny cutters  before Easter so we could make Easter biscuits and then proceeded to mislay them! 😦 Getting set up for Easter with our two nature table boxes and all the paraphenalia we like to scatter about the place (!),  returning from holiday and an accumulation of paperwork (that always tends to go on the backburner in the holidays), not to mention all the craft materials squirrelled here and there inbetween activities – make it difficult to locate things!  I found them a couple of days after Easter (!) so we finally made shortbread biscuits (albeit parmesan shortbread..)

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*   We finally made some balms using the calendula, chickweek and plantain oils that we created last summer and that have been lurking at the back of the fridge for rather a long time!! I have been promising my daughters we would make the balms  for ages, every time they had a scratch, itch or bite – I really don’t know what took me so long – it is so easy to do!!

I mixed the three oils together as this trio soothe all manner of skin ailments.  I think I will mix comfrey oil into it next time to really cover everything!

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Calendula is a great all round skin soother. It can be used on cuts, mild burns, insect bites and dry, chapped skin, including the lips. It can also help soothe rashes (including nappy rash) and chickenpox scabs, to mention a few.

Plantain (plantago) helps to treat cuts and skin irritations such as nappy rash, sunburn, nettle stings, insect bites and bee stings. It is anti-inflammatory.

Chickweek (stellaria) can be used on cuts, bruises, sores and dry, chapped skin and is also good for rashes (when I was pregnant with my eldest, I had an allotment and the caterpillars there gave everyone an allergic rash. I had it all over my belly and legs and used chickweed ointment to alleviate the itch. Very effective, I found).

We found the recipe in our herb fairies magazine, but something very similar is also in the wonderful resource Medicinal Herbs – a Beginners Guide by Rosemary Gladstar.

Here’s how to make our “triple action” soothing balm:

You will need:

1 cup of herb oil – single oils or a combination of your favourite ones
1/4 cup beeswax
2 Vitamin E gel capsules ( if you have them)

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Measure out a third of a cup of each oil ( or one cup if you are only using one oil).

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Heat gently in a bainmarie (glass bowl over a saucepan of boiling water in our case).

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Add a quarter of a cup of grated beeswax.

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Once the beeswax is melted, test the consistency of the balm, by either putting a small amount on a plate and placing it in the freezer for a minute, or put a small amount on a teaspoon and see how it sets.

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If the consistency is as desired then you are ready to decant the liquid. If it is too soft,  add a little more beeswax to make it firmer or if it is too hard, add a little more oil.  Ours is lovely and soft and easy to apply. If you have them, add two Vitamin E capsules. Pierce them with a pin and squeeze them into your cooling liquid.

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Decant the liquid into your containers using a ladle. It will be hot, so make sure they are on the surface where they will cool.

Add the essential oil of your choice or leave it ‘au naturel’. I looked up essential oils for dry skin and rose and geranium seemed popular, so the girls decided on rose. I made one with rose and geranium for my husband and rose and jasmine for me as they are favourite scents of mine.

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It feels like a lovely treat applying it and my daughters, who dislike being doctored by me, can doctor themselves with these soothing balms. They are using it for everything and it is very gentle on their sensitive skins. I have eczema on one of my hands – due to all the washing up, garden duties, hand washing etc and it has already made a difference, so I would highly recommend making your own herbal oils and balms. They cost very little and are a wonderful way to conserve natures medicines. I believe they last up to a year in a cool place. I don’t think they will last so long here!!

And one last step, just because… label your jars beautifully. My motto is:  whatever you do, make it beautiful  🙂

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*   We finally started work in our vegetable garden. As we were away over the Easter break, we didn’t want to start beforehand as it was too dry and there was no one to water the plants in the greenhouse.

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I try to follow the Biodynamic Calendar for our planting and sowing:

On Easter Monday afternoon we sowed our fruiting plant seeds in pots, eg: tomatoes, squash, sweetcorn, courgettes, peas and beans.

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This past Sunday afternoon we put our leafy veg seeds in the beds eg: spinach, chard, celery, salads, leaf herbs, leeks, cabbages etc.

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We will sow our root veg seeds on Friday eg: carrots, parsnips, onion, garlic, potatoes.

I learnt this method from an older chap that I used to talk to at my allotment many years ago, who was a great admirer of Rudolf Steiner’s work and it has stood me in good stead (this was years before I had children and discovered Waldorf education).

We were rather late getting our crops in last year, but everything grew well, so we are hopeful. We certainly grew enough to feed our chickens and guinea pigs and had a glut of tomatoes, cucumbers and strawberries and a few other goodies.

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I have covered the sown beds with washed and crushed egg shells (that I have been saving all winter) to try to deter snails and slugs and will be ordering some nematodes soon as too many of our little seedlings were dessimated last year. I have also heard that covering the beds with holly helps ,so i may go out and see what I can find in my local park 🙂 Fingers crossed!

*    I am still working on my purple sweater. It has mainly been knitted on car journeys and whilst watching episodes of Fawlty Towers on Netflix (a politically incorrect but hilarious comedy show about a English hotel, set in the 1970’s). It reaches past my waist now and I only have one skein left to knit up, so hopefully it won’t take too long. I am really enjoying the colour so it keeps me interested!

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Next I need to start thinking about making birthday presents for my youngest who will be eight at the end of May and my eldest has put in a request for short sleeved version of this cardigan designed by the very talented Laura . I would like to make it for her before she goes on her school camp in June.

*    Another little crafting achievement this week is this “Piggywig” my eldest daughter needlefelted for a game 🙂

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I love it. She is thinking of making more to sell at the Christmas Fayre at our school in December.  It is always good to make plans 🙂

What are you enjoying making/creating this week?

Joining Nicole at Crafting On

 

10 thoughts on “This past week

  1. Your sweater is really coming along! The pattern you’ve chosen for your daughter looks like a good one, too.

    I have long admired the biodynamic calendars. Maybe next year is the year I try one out! Old timers around here follow something called “planting by the signs” which closely resembles Steiner’s recommendations. I think it’s fallen out of fashion with younger people, but there is some merit to those “old-fashioned” ideas.

    We have made a calendula salve for the past couple years and it has easily replaced store-bought skin creams. We had a rough year for calendula last year, so I used the Weleda baby oil–it worked very well! I add lavender to ours, but I may try something new this year. We’re making our own insect repellent this time around, too.

    Willow and I made a quilt last week, but it has been too gray to get a good photo. Maybe today!

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    • That sounds great that you made a quilt with Willow! Look forward to seeing that. What are you going to put in the bug spray? We can’t tolerate lavender here. I like the smell and it has so many amazing properties but my skin doesn’t like it and the girls find it overpowering 😦 There are luckily lots of other lovely oils to choose from though 🙂 Good idea re the weleda calendula baby oil. Improvising is creativity at its best 🙂

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      • I put in geranium, tea tree, citronella, and peppermint, along with some witch haze and water. I think the mosquitoes are starting to wake up, so it’s time to begin using it. Yes, there are SO many oils!

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      • That sounds like a good plan to make it. Thanks for the info! My girls might actually apply it if they make it themselves. They happily use the salve for all manner of skin complaints and itchiness. 🙂

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      • Here’s the recipe, just in case, that was given to me: In an 8 ounce bottle, add 25 drops each citronella and geranium and 15 drops each peppermint and tea tree. Add one ounce of witch hazel and fill the rest with water. Shake well before use.

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  2. I really do love the colour of your jumper, the cardi pattern looks lovely too, what colour are you planning on using? Haven’t watched Fawlty Towers in years, might have to give it a watch again, I’ve been watching The Good Life 🙂 The soothing balm sounds great.

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    • Thanks Helen – it is a lovely vibrant colour. I am not too sure on the colour of my daughters cardi yet. They are doing some reductions at loveknitting.com, so might look there. I will have to look with my daughter as she is very specific about what she likes! Ah the Good Life, would be fun to watch that again. They are both rather dated, but stand the test of time a lot better than many other 1970’s sitcoms!!!

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  3. Love that Rosemary Gladstar book. An herbalist friend of mine used her suggestions on comfrey tea to help me heal my fractured sternum. I will need to try your balm recipe with my own 12 year old budding medicinal herbalist daughter.
    Thanks for the pattern mention! Can’t wait to see how yours turns out. Your purple sweater looks super cozy. Are you able to wear sweaters year round in your part of England?
    I loved your Cornwall post! I haven’t had time to comment on it yet, but plan on revisiting it. Looks like you had a lovely holiday with your family!

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    • Hi Laura, that sounds amazing that you used comfrey tea to heal your fracture. Comfrey was my grandmothers go to herb for all manner of ills. I guess that’s why they call it knitbone! It’s lovely that your daughter is so interested in herbs. Rosemary’s book is so clear and easy to follow. Great for us beginners! Thanks for your encouragement re the sweater. Yes hoping it will be a cosy one. I imagine it will be a spring, autumn, winter wear as the summers here are usually pretty warm ( if not always sunny..) well, this summer I will be in the States and I am picturing heat!! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the Cornwall post. We did have a lovely trip. Such a beautiful part of our country! Thanks for stopping by to visit and leaving a supportive message!

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