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Marshmallow: Root Harvest and More

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We ended up having to dig up one of my marshmallow plants to make room for a post in the garden and this is the first time I have been able see just how big those precious, medicinal roots have become. I have been using the leaves for the past few years as a green in my salads, in teas, soaps, infused oil for my skin cream, and more all while allowing the roots to really develop. Now I can start using those too in my teas and even for making the confectionery treat by the same name.
I got all of it dried up on my wood stove and managed to fill well over a quart jar once it was all finished. I found the easiest way was to chop them up, then dry them completely (I use stoneware baking sheets elevated with racks on my wood stove) then process the dried pieces in the blender. 
  This should last me quite awhile but I have to say, I am tempted on digging up another plant but will probably wait until early fall before the rains come as that is when the roots are most beneficial. Marshmal…

Peanut Butter Granola Recipe

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When trying to find more ways to save money on our foods and also be more natural and healthy. I got myself into making our own granola.  Though I still buy certain boxed or bagged cereals, I ONLY will buy the good organic and non-GMO brands that I trust.  These are nice just to keep variety but can become pretty expensive.  
I make a hot breakfast three to four days in the week from scratch (biscuts and gravy, pancakes, elk, beef, or venison sausage with farm eggs and fried potatoes, et cetera) and I also make hot cereals such as oatmeal or my own whole grain and seed hot cereal blend.  Now and then though, Mr. Rain just likes to have a bowl of cold cereal.  So making a good healthy and frugal option is important. 
Peanut butter granola is the easiest one and also is our favorite. 
Ingredients:
*1 cup organic peanut butter *1 cup raw honey
*6 cups oats (one can substitute some of the oats for coconut, seeds, or other grains but we prefer just the oats when making this particular granola)

Off Grid Laundry

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To start off with I need to make clear that I do not always do my laundry like this as our solar power is enough to run my electric machine most of the year round and we are still connected to public power so my electric machine is what gets used more than anything. However, there are those dark days in mid winter where we get little solar collection and get frequent power outages on the public service side of things.  I also do not have any grand illusions that nothing with ever go wrong with our solar power to where that is unavailable to me. Plus, one never knows when the electric machine will decide to break down - other than the inevitable fact it will happen in the middle of running a load. Thus, it is important for me to have a back up plan for doing laundry. This was the main reason why we put this set up together. 

Of course one does not just set up such things and wait for a disaster to happen to start using.  It is very important to know how to use it and be practiced …

Wonderful Uses and Benefits of Wooly Lamb's Ear

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Wooly Lamb's Ear (Stachys Byzantina) is another one of the many multi purpose herbs that the more self reliant types should consider growing if they are not already. If you are already growing this lovely, velvety plant, maybe you can learn something new from this article. One of my Lamb's Ear plants in my West herb garden The soft leaves make a great bandage because they are absorbent, antibacterial, and antiseptic. They also have anti-fungal properties which is what gives them the ability to help cure candida overgrowth.
It can be used to treat cuts, scrapes, burns, bug bites and stings. I have used it on several occasions with a bit of chewed up yarrow or plantain in the middle of the leaf and held onto the wound with a a bit of gauze, loosely wrapped ace bandage, or even a small rubber band.

The bruised or dried leaves can be brewed into a tea and taken internally to help treat many things such as internal bleeding, soothing sore throats, candida overgrowth,…

Foraged Food and Medicine: Benefits of Chicken of the Woods and Salal

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A few months ago, Patrick and I went out hunting chantrelle mushrooms that grow abundantly in our neck of the woods.  Though we did not find any that time what we DID find was Chicken of the Woods and that was very exciting to me as I had yet to try it but had been meaning to for some time. While we were out, we went ahead and gathered some salal greens and berries for using in medicinal tinctures. Here is our little cooler full of the goodies we brought home that day

Of course, being who I am, I looked up the health benefits of this wild mushroom and as could be expected with pretty much any foraged food, it is packed full of goodness such as protein, fiber, and vitamins B, C, D, and K. Those last two being especially great when you live in a place where we get little sun and really need that vitamin D. Equally important is that it also is high in vitamin K as vitamins D and K need to be taken together to get the full benefits out of them. This is why I believe that tak…

Grape Leaves Health Benefits and Uses

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In the late spring my grape vines around my deck go crazy and end up covering my solar lights within a matter of a few days and then start to shade too much of the plants on my deck so I need to get busy and start pruning them back so my lights and plants can get some sun.

 A few of years ago, I had decided to look into grape leaves to find out what uses they might have and was pleased to find they are not only edible, but loaded with nutrients and benefits to health. So now when I prune, I do not just throw out those precious greens, I dehydrate them for future uses!
In the summer when I am making lots of vinegar, I like to use the larger grape leaves to cover my fruit and herbs in order to keep them under the water while brewing. A batch of rose petal vinegar just being started They also are great for adding to cucumbers when pickling to help keep them crisp. A batch of my lacto fermented pickles I have added the young, more tender leaves to salads, used in stir fries, and even h…

How to Make and Use Herb Infused Oils

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Infusing oils is a very easy process though it does take time and patience for a well infused oil. 
There are so many different blends and types of oils one can make and they have a good amount of uses. Some may infuse oils for culinary purposes, which I have tried for fun myself.  Others will do so for medicinal and skin care reasons, which is mainly what I do.
I make a cayenne and peppermint infused oil for using in both my homemade muscle and joint rub and also in my special scalp and hair blend I use to help stimulate hair growth.  These are recipes I do plan on sharing here in the near future but first want to go over the oil infusions so you can get them started right away if you think that is something you would be interested in.
The other most common oil infusion I do is my calendula, pansy, and marshmallow blend (sometimes with rose petals) that I use in my homemade skin cream and lip balms. My lip balm recipe I will also share down the road but you can find my skin cream recipe…

How to Vacuum Seal Dry Goods Without Electricity

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Though I have demonstrated this method in many videos, I thought it would be a good idea to do a step-by-step in photos on how to easily vacuum seal your dried goods into mason jars without the need of electricity.
 I have found it to work FAR better than using the FoodSaver where it would take me several tries and several lids to finally get it to seal, and then they would still often lose their seals within a month or even a week. The only failures I have had with this method was a result of a bad lid or fine powders in too full jars. 

 Lids that have been used once for pressure or water bath canning typically will work better than brand new lids and can be used over and over again, however, they can still get misshapen over time and simply need to be tossed.

That is another thing that makes vacuum sealing dried goods into jars is the fact that one does not need to toss those metal lids so soon but can get many repeated uses from them.

To clean the permanent marker off the lids …

Cough, Cold, and Flu Remedy - Natural and Organic

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Making your own cough, cold, and flu remedy is not only easy and frugal, it is actually healthy for you too.  It can even be taken daily when not ill as a preventive. To top it off, it is pretty tasty! 
The exciting thing for me about this year's blend was using some of my own black elderberries plus the addition of homegrown marshmallow and echinacea leaves and flowers.  
I will be writing articles down the road about the many health benefits of both marshmallow and echinacea but for now let me explain a few reasons why these are good choices to add to your cold and flu blend.  
Marshmallow has mucilaginous properties making it great for soothing sore throats and calming coughs.  Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) Echinacea is an immune strengthener and will kill both bacterial and viral infections. 
Both echinacea and marshmallow have analgesic properties making them useful in relieving pain.
Echinacea Purpurea 
Then there are the wonderful immune boosting and bug fighting spices such a…