Herbal balm recipe

I hesitate to write about anything homemade right now.  It seems like a bit of a farce considering we’re straggling through each week and I made this batch of balm awhile ago, but I’m going to go ahead and post this for two reasons (see end of post)…


  1.  2.5 cups oil
  2. 75 grams beeswax  (I use a small kitchen scale whenever I use grated beeswax.  The results are too unpredictable when using volume measures.)
  3. 10 drops of an essential oil (optional)

Yes, it’s that simple.

In the following pictures you will see that I infused my oil with medicinal herbs.  This step in not necessary, but it results in a multi-functional product.

Step One – Infuse oil with herbs.  (There are many different kinds of oil to choose from.  I often use a mix of grapeseed, olive and canola oil).  In this batch I combined some oil I had infused at room temp. for several weeks, with oil infused in a double-boiler.  I used the following garden/wild botanicals: calendula, spruce tips, dandelion blossoms, plantain, red clover, golden rod, and chamomile.

Step two:  Strain herbs out of the oil (I use a bodom coffee press that we don’t make coffee in anymore.)

Step Three:  Grate beeswax and melt in a double boiler.  (It could be the same one you used for infusing the herbs.)

I buy my beeswax in big bricks from a local honey farmer.

Step Four:  Once the beeswax has melted, add the oils and stir until everything is combined.  Take the mix off the heat, add the essential oils, and stir.  Pour into clean sterilized jars and store at room temp.  This lasts a long time.  I’ve never had it go bad yet.

jars of cooled balm

Reason #1 for posting—–Versatility

We reach for this all-natural balm whenever we need

  • an anti-septic wound healer
  • anti-itch cream
  • lip balm
  • muscle relaxant
  • diaper rash cream (the reason I first learned to make it)
  • cough suppressant (Whenever the girls start hacking at night I rub this onto their backs.)
  • psychological cure-all

This is one homemade product where you get a lot of bang for your energy/time buck

Reason #2 for posting—-Upcoming mini-conference for mothers in Manitoba!

On November 3 I will be attending an event for moms called INSPIRE.  There will be workshops (photography, women’s health, clean food, etc), a speaker (me!), and a lunch.  The lovely and talented organizers are also planning to have a  “take-away” table full of good ideas.  Imagine Pinterest in real life.  I will be bringing this balm, and the instructions I typed out here, as my contribution…

If you are interested in attending, leave a comment and I will send you more details.

Long Distance Grandmas and Goldenrod

This week the girls opened up the front door and found a package on the porch they had anticipating for days.  My daughters belong to a very elite club- “The Surprise of the Month Club”, and their grandma is the ringleader.

Written on the front of the package. Can you guess?

We live over 1000 miles from Stan’s parents.  That means we only see each other about 2 or 3 times a year, at best.  Sending the kids to their house for after-school visits and hanging out with them on a lazy Sunday afternoon are things we just can’t do.  But Grandma Mary Lou has figured out something she can do.  I’m thinking she should consider being an on-line consultant for long distance grandmas.  Take a look at this creative idea and tell me how much you think she should charge for her consulting fees:) …

Bubble Wrap Hopscotch

1.  Cut out 10 squares of bubble wrap (the ones with the quarter-sized bubbles work the best) and write a number on each one with permanent marker.

2.  Set up the squares any way you want for a rip-roaring game.

We had to tape them down because it was a little breezy. They worked great inside.

3.  Enjoy the sound effects!

Here is the woman herself, with her son.

Stan and his mom at a fourth of July parade this summer.


New neighbours moved in, two doors down, this weekend.  I saw the guy for the first time this Saturday when I was biking home with this bouquet.

Biking home with my goldenrod bouquet

I pulled my bike into the driveway to welcome them into the neighbourhood.

He was wearing an AC/DC teeshirt, unloading his weights, and weight bench, into the house.

“It’s a wondeful area,” I told him exhuberantly.  “We’re so close to the edge of town and open fields…”

He looked at me.

“…to pick wild flowers.”

I looked at him.

“You know, if you’re into that kind of thing.”

I’m sure we’ll get along wonderfully.

So, back to goldenrod.  It’s everywhere right now, have you seen it?  It tends to grow in clumps because it propagates through creeping rhizomes.  The blooms smell wonderful and once you find a patch of goldenrod the harvesting doesn’t take long.  (To harvest sustainably from the wild, take no more than 20 %- 25% of the plant material growing in a certain location)

I’m looking forward to using this herb topically. (Read: I tried drinking the tea and almost gagged.  I have NO idea why anyone would consider this a “pleasant” tea, as I’ve read many times.)  I plan on infusing oil with it to make a salve, because of it’s anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, anti-spasmodic, and immune boosting qualities.  During the crusades people also called this plant “woundwort” for its usefulness in treating cuts and stopping blood flow.

The University of Maryland has more information on the medicinal qualities of Goldenrod.

For pictures to help with identification, check this site: Canada Goldenrod Solidago canadensis – Ontario Wildflowers.

Here’s the tea, all set up for a wonderful blog shot (ok, not really). This is after I made myself take 4 or 5 sips, each time reacting with a throaty growl and a shake of the head. I took this photo with the hopes that someone might explain how people get this stuff down, and enjoy it.


One last picture.  I’m sure glad survey sticks don’t need a lot of hay…

Their survey sticks satiated their horse longings, at least for tonight.

Thank God I’m a Country Girl (who lives in the city)

Wheat harvest: My dad and 2 brothers farm together.

It happens every time my daughters go visit their cousins.  The whole car ride home is one long sigh and explanation of why we don’t live in the country.

This time, after we helped bring supper out to the field with my mom, Belén gave me the ultimatum:

“By my ninth birthday we have to be living in the country, or else…”

The 6 man crew stops for a hot supper.

“That would be great,” I reply, and I really mean it.  Instead of listing off reasons like jobs and land prices I think back to what I loved about being a country kid.  In fact, I always assumed my children would do the same things I did: raft down ditches in springtime, build forts a 1/4 mile away from home, clear snow off the pond to make a rink (or was that you, Todd?), bike for miles without encountering another soul…

My older brother (the snow shoveler) in his wheat field.

But the reality is we live in a 60’x100′ lot, four blocks away from a McDonald’s.  Sometimes life doesn’t work out the way we imagined it would.

At some point during these lament-why-we-don’t-live-in-the-country car rides I usually like to ask my girls, and myself, “What is it that you like about where we live right now?”  Living biking distance from the library and friends’ houses are always at the top of our list.  I also think there is value in trying to live sustainably in an urban setting, since most people in the world will never be able to own huge swaths of land.

This is not to say we don’t brainstorm about ideas on how might get our own piece of rural property and join our generation of back-to-the-landers.   But to be honest, those conversations always end up with me questioning how we are going to shod our children’s feet, envisioning buck-skin wardrobes and a lot of stress in general.

Riding with Grandpa

This week was a double whammy. A friend of Stan’s invited us to his acreage to ride horses. If you have a girl you can imagine the consequences!

Belén started cantering with her horse (unintentionally) and she now considers herself a “real cowgirl”.

So here we are, with a street address and neighbours we can wave to while sitting at our dining room table.  Perhaps we will fulfill Belén’s wishes and be somewhere else by this time next year.  I’m kind of doubtful though.  In the mean time I hope to keep adding to our list of what we like about here; the place we’re at right now.

PS:  How many of you will be two stepping in your kitchen after you read this post, humming the song in the title?

PPS:  Did you know that Latin name for Goldenrod is Solidago and it means “to make whole”.  More on that later.

Solidago canadensis