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.

Six reaons NOT to go canoeing with children (and why we do it anyway)

1.  Packing

Packing for three days in the back country takes me at least one full roll-up-the-sleeves-and-set-your-jaw kind of  day.  Especially when my daughters are simultaneously playing, eating, and creating like it’s the last day they’ve got left to live.

Mama’s thoughts: “AUUGGHHH. Can’t you children just sit in one spot for the whole day so we can leave this house clean???”

2.  Leaving

I hereby challenge any loving, mature couple to strap themselves, their kids, their gear and two boats into/onto a small car.  If you are able to manage the feat unscathed, you have my utmost respect.  I owe you even more if your child has diarrhea at the side of the road, five miles after setting off from home.

3.  Repacking

…from the car to the canoe, from the canoe to the campsite, from the campsite to the canoe, from the canoe to the campsite, from the campsite to the canoe… you get the idea

The trip starts with a small river… and a bit of a sprinkle

I know this is supposed to be a “con” picture, but do you see that long natural beach!

4.  The weather

Heard on the radio as we pulled out of our driveway:  “Rain in southern, central, and northern parts of the province… plan on staying at home on the couch with some blankets and a movie…”

Fortunately the rain didn’t turn out to be a problem.  We did encounter wind on the second day.  And, since wind = whitecaps = swamping our canoe, we piled all our gear into the biggest canoe, sent the men off to battle the waves, and then hiked 7 km to our next campsite with the three kids.  I’m not sure who had the hardest job.  Weirdly enough, Stan said it was the highlight of the trip…

Honestly, those whitecaps were bigger than they look!

This was our first trip with another family. It was wonderful having another 2 adults around for situations such as this one.

5.  Winged insects

I spotted approximately two mosquitoes this weekend so I feel sheepish claiming this one, but Susanna did get stung twice by hornets.  Stan looked at me immediately, then at the ground, and asked, “What do we do for this?”  I didn’t get it for a moment and then my eye caught a plantain leaf.  In the next second we were both chewing on plantain to make a spit poultice for her fresh bites.  Plantain acts as an anti-histamine and an anti-inflammatory.  It is also used to draw out poison from snake and insect bites.  Although Susanna wasn’t thrilled to have her parents saliva dripping off her, it did seem to help.

6.  Wildlife

Shalain and I were about 25 meters from our campsite when we heard a rustling noise in a nearby berry patch.  The kind of rustling that makes your blood feel like fire in your veins.  I gripped my bear spray and she got her bear bangers ready; then we met her husband Kent.  He had just run into the same bear.  It stared at him, he stared back, and then it ambled into the raspberries.  Not an epic story after all.

homemade bear bells

So why do we bother to go at all?

I could answer by recommending Last Child in the Woods or reflecting on how it feels like time travel to be in the back country-as if cell phones and blogs like these cease to exist.  Instead, I’ll just post a few more pictures.

I didn’t pack any toys, not even the stuffies, and they survived.

Shalain, Lake and Kent with Belén

Fish from the first day. Belén caught the whopping pickerel (walleye) in the middle. Next time I’ll pack less wieners and more lemon and butter.

Thanks for the bow saw, Derek.

Susanna took this from the car

How do you and your family enjoy the back country?

Any canoe trip recommendations out there?

PS.  About that kayak Stan made… it turns out it needs a few tweaks before we’ll take it on another trip.

We started the trip towing the girls behind us in the kayak. It didn’t track well and the whole thing resulted in a lot of screaming and two soaked kids. After five minutes on the water we ditched the kayak in the bush and repacked.