Try That Herb Tuesday- Jewel Weed

While most people use jewel weed to neutralize poison Ivy (actually to be more specific, it's the oily antigen, urushiol, that causes the irritation), it is also an effective remedy for poison oak, okra spines, stinging nettle, bug bites, heat rash, and other irritating plant reactions and other skin disorders. For more than a hundred years, a poultice made from this plant was frequently used to treat burns, cuts, sores, sprains, warts, eczema, and even ringworm. 

Often called the "touch me not" impatient it is botanically known as Impatiens Capensis, and is commonly known as Jewel WeedJewel weed produces trumpet-shaped flowers, which bloom from early summer to fall. They are under an inch in length and have three petals. One of the petals curls to form a long slipper, or sack shaped spur. They come in a variety of colors and like to grow near water or in shallow ponds. It's been said that jewel weed grows wherever Poison Ivy is found, but that isn't really true. Poison ivy can grow well under most any conditions, sunny or shady. But jewel weed is a shade loving plant, one that prefers valleys with rich soil and moist bottom lands. It may sprout in a sunny area, but it will not survive for long in the light. 

There are many ways to use jewel weed, but drying it is not practical because it has a very high moisture content. For this reason, the soaps, salves and sprays  made from this herb are made from either the fresh or from frozen jewel weed. 

One of the easiest ways to benefit from this flower is simply to take the stem and slice it, then slather the juice onto the skin that has come into contact with poison ivy. If you get it applied before the rash appears, it will generally prevent any from developing. If you already have a rash, it will help to ease the irritation. In fact, many people use the stem juice as a preventative treatment for poison ivy reactions, and it seems to work well.

When foraging, make sure that you are looking for the orange flowering jewel weed though, not the yellow. The yellow is less concentrated, and will probably not offer you the relief you are looking for. A fresh plant will last about a week in a sealed container when placed in the refrigerator, or you can make an infusion and freeze it for later use. 

To make an infusion, boil the leaves of the plant. Brew the chopped jewel weed leaves in boiling water, until you get a dark orange liquid in your pot. Then strain the liquid, and pour it into ice cube trays. Then, when you have a skin rash, just grab out a cube and rub the affected area with your "jewel cube". It will keep in the freezer for up to one year, or you can preserve the infusion by canning it (in a pressure cooker). 

You can make a tincture with witch hazel and the jewel weed juice or the infusion previously described. Preparing the tincture in witch hazel will help to prevent mold growth, if you want to keep some jewel juice unfrozen. 

If you want to make soap with the jewel weed, either make an infusion to incorporate as your liquid, or you can just use the jewel ice in place of all or a portion of your liquid. 

You can also make jewel weed ointment. Simply simmer a small amount of jewel weed in a light vegetable oil (do not use olive oil) for 10-15 minutes. Use only a small handful of jewel weed stems per quart of oil, or bubbles of the juice will form in the ointment, and they will cause mold. When time is up, strain out the herb and add a handful of beeswax, to thicken it, and heat until it is melted. Take out a spoonful and allow it to cool, to test the thickness. Add either more oil or more beeswax until it is the consistency that you prefer. Once it is just right for you, remove from the heat and pierce 2 gel caps of vitamin E, and add the contents of one oil-soluble vitamin E capsule, pour into a jar, and allow it to completely cool (with the lid off).

Whatever you do, do NOT make alcoholic tinctures from Jewel weed. Some people have had very bad reactions when mixing and using jewel weed with alcohol. 

Make it Yourself Monday-Bath Melts

After a long, hard day working or even a nice day relaxing at the beach or by the pool, a soaking bath can be very relaxing. Add some bath melts and it can also be quite soothing and nourishing to the skin! To make your own, you will need;

4 oz. Shea or Cocoa butter (or a mixture)
4 Tbs. Citric Acid
6 Tbs. Oatmeal
1 Tbs. Cornstarch
4 oz. Baking Soda
Essential oil or Skin safe Fragrance oil of choice. Check the manufacturer for the recommended usage amounts.
Mold of choice

Melt the butter in a double boiler, then set aside to cool but don't allow it to solidify. In a separate bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. Once the butter is cooled a bit, add in the dry ingredients and stir. If you mix them when the oil is too hot it may fizz, and since you obviously can't mix it if the butter has solidified completely, timing is everything! Once mixed, quickly add in the essential oil or fragrance oil of your choice and mix thoroughly. Once mixed, work quickly spooning the mixture into your mold. I have found that silicone ice cube tray molds work great for these melts, and they come in a great variety of shapes. Check the dollar stores for great bargains too!  

To use, just toss one or more into your tub as it fills. They will melt in the warmth of the water and you will get a moisturizing treatment as you relax in the tub. Make these with the right choice of essential oil and you could also combine an aromatherapy treatment in there as well!  Just be sure to exercise caution when you go to get out of the tub, as these tend to make the tub slippery. The more you use, the more you risk slipping, so PLEASE be very careful!. 

Tripod Thursday-New Finds

Today's photographs are just a few odds and ends in my business collection. While I have to take product pictures, I truly enjoy finding and taking pictures of "different" things. I love hide and seek, and those small, but great finds in out-of- the-way places. So here are some of each. 

Don't you love this cast iron soap holder? I recently found this in the bottom of a sales bin, and was extremely pleased with the find, not to mention the price!
While most of my soaps are too large to fit into the regular boxes, I do make a few that are just right! 

I've had far too many requests for this product lately. I think everyone needs to relax a bit more and quit working so hard! Vacation!

Many of my customers just LOVE the whipped shea. Me? I love the ylang ylang scent. Ylang ylang means "flower of flowers", and its scent lives up to its name! I especially enjoy the lavender and ylang ylang blend, and since I can barely keep in stock, evidently I'm not the only one! 

What's Up Wednesday- Contest

Since I was preoccupied with my Son's wedding and the fact that nature slapped many of us with a prolonged power outage, I have extended the NAME MY SOAP CONTEST until August 4th! If your name is chosen you will win a bar of the soap that you just named and some samples of various other products!

For now the soap is just called number 77. The picture put up with the other posts was of Irish Rain, and NOT #77. My apologies about that, but, the description was accurate, except for the fact that this one does not have jojoba beads in it. It is colored with French Green Clay, Spirulina, and Nettle. The scent is (mainly) a mixture of lavender and grapefruit, with a hint of eucalyptus. While there are other essential oils tossed in there, these three are really the only notes that are easily sniffed out. It is a nice clean, fresh scent, with a bit of an after bite. It is a different one for sure, truly unique, and a great new scent! To enter, leave your suggestions in comments here or on my face book page; 

For the small print; This prize is only open to contestants who have mailing addresses within the continental USA. I will hapily mail the prize anywhere if the winner agrees to pay for postage, so enter if you like, no matter where you live.
Besides that, all entries should be "G" rated, as this is a family company.
Any entry that is deemed to be inappropriate or vulgar will be deleted. You may submit up to 5 different names. If the winning name has been submitted more than once, only the first to submit it will win the prize(s).
No trademarked names will be used, and should not be submitted. In the event that none of the submitted names are chosen to be used, one winner will be randomly chosen from all of the entries submitted, and will win the prize(s). That should do it for all the details, much luck!

Teaching Tuesday-Five Flavor Berries

The five flavor plant and berry, botanically known as Schisandra chinensis, is so named because the berries possess all five of the basic flavors used in traditional Chinese medicine, sweet, salty, spicey, bitter and sour. In fact, this plant is considered to be one of the "50 fundamental herbs" necessary to Chinese medicine.

While it is native to the forests of Northern China and Eastern Russia, it is an ornamental plant that can be found in gardens throughout the world. In the USA it is hardy to (USDA) zone 4.   You may be more familiar with the more common name, "Magnolia Vine". So called because of its ability to grow upwards, in a creeping fashion, it is a woody vine with oval, pink leaves and bright red berries. It is rather hardy, thriving in most any soil type, although it prefers moist, well drained soil. It also prefers to climb on a wall that has some shade. While the natural plant only bears fruit when the female plant is fetilized with pollen from a male plant, there is a hybrid, named "Eastern Prince", that has beautiful and perfect flowers, and is self-fertile.

The berries are most often used in dried form, where they are used to make a medicinal tea. Chinese folklore says that Schisandra can "calm the heart and quiet the spirit", and it has a long history in Traditional Chinese Medicine. There are over 19 species of the genus that are said to be used in Chinese medicine, largely for its (mild) sedative qualities and for tonic agents as well. Traditional Chinese Medicine has also used it as a lung astringent, coughs, and asthma, as well as using the vines and roots to make remedies for painful joints and rheumatism. It is also said to help with "wei chi", the defense energy of the body, helping to build resistance to infection. On the non-medicinal side, they also use teh berries to make a wine. The Japanese use the plant as a remedy for sea-sickness and colds. Russian hunters, on the other hand, have consumed tea made from it for centuries, to help with fatigue.

Most research having to do with this plant has been conducted in China, where double blind studies suggest that it has the ability to help those that suffer from Hepatitis. The lignans contained in the berry appear to protect the liver by stimulating cells which produce antioxidants. Also, because it has adaptogenic properties, it has been comapared to herbal medicines, such as Ginseng, that stimulating the central nervous system, increase brain efficiency, improve reflexes, and accelerate endurance. The powder made from dried berries can be used in capsules or can be reconstituted to drink as a tea or mixed in juice. Fresh berries can be eaten, mixed in foods/drinks, or allowed to steep in glycerin, which can then be drank or encapsulated.

Precautions: Botanical safety research (in China, Russia, and the U.S.A) has showed that Schisandra may, in rare instances, cause gastrointestinal upset. It should not be used by pregnant women, as it is a uterine stimulant. Since this plant possesses sedative qualities it may enhance the actions of prescription medications. Therefore, care should be taken, and the possibility of decreasing a prescription dosage should be discussed with your physician.

Make it Yourself Monday-

Today's Make it Yourself Monday recipe is for some refreshing, Summertime drinks!

We will start with a nice Lavender Lemonade. To save calories or make for a diabetic, try using splenda or another sugar substitute.

You will need;
1/2 gallon of water
1 cup sugar or the equivalent in your choice of a sugar substitute 
1/3 cup lavender blossoms
6 large (whole) lemons

Boil water and pour the lavender buds. Allow it to infuse for 15 minutes, then strain the botanicals from the tea. Toss the solids and retain the liquid.

Juice the lemons, leaving 1/2 of a lemon for a garnish. Add the lemon juice to the lavender tea, then add the sugar or sugar substitute. You can add more or less than stated, depending upon your preference. Once mixed, slice the half of lemon  you saved for the garnish and float them on top of the pitcher. Chill the pitcher and serve the contents cold, or over ice. Enjoy! 

This next one is a Citrus Smoothie/Slushy. Healthy, tasty, and great for a hot Summer's day, this one can be made without any added sugar at all! 

You will need;
2 ripened oranges, peeled and chopped
1 lime, peeled and chopped
1 tray of ice cubes
2 ounces of orange juice

Toss everything into the blender and blend until smooth, pour into a glass and  refrigerate for five minutes. If you like you can add sugar or sugar substitute to taste. Drink up and enjoy!

Wedding Pictorial

So as not to bore anyone, I have put together a highly condensed slide show from the wedding day.
The handsome little ring-bearer is my Grandson, and his birthday is today, so Happy second birthday from Nana! I love you soooooo much!
Next week I will get back to our regular schedule, barring any unforeseen acts of nature, so look for a new recipe on Monday. Until then, have a great weekend!

Hi there! I am finally back! Once again I must apologize for the interruption in blog posts. Unfortunately my guest blogger was hit by a long power outage after a bad storm hit our area. While some people just got their electricity back a few days ago, everyone is now up and running again. The majority of central and southern Ohio was declared a disaster area, but repairs are almost, if not completely done now.

Meanwhile, I did manage to complete the flowers for my eldest Son's wedding, and, although exhausted, the wedding festivities were truly memorable! My Grandson even got to spend two nights with his great-grandmother and myself. It was quite a memorable weekend! Needless to say, I am still tired ! Funny how a two year old can wear you out! Lol! Actually, he won't be two until this weekend, so it will be another fun-filled, but tiring weekend!

Anyway, here are the promised flower arrangement photographs. I hope that one of the wedding pictures shows the bridal bouquet better than these. For some reason I just didn't seem to get a good angle. Still, I think you will at least get the general idea and feel. I hope you like them!
Due to storms and power outages this blog will be down until Thursday, July 5, so sorry!