Tag Archives: herbal remedies

2012, a year for growing roots

I love the New Year. It is fresh. It is new. It is full of opportunity. You start the year with a clean slate, except you get to build on the past; lessons learned, accomplishments made. I know creating goals are a tradition often kept at this time of year, even though these same goals are often broken before the year has gotten well under way, but I still like to create an outline of sorts that helps me to figure out what I want to do with myself for the year. As our family grows, this has also become a convenient time of year to review where our family is at and where we want to see ourselves this time next year. Without creating unrealistic goals, this has been a helpful way to guide us as we move forward.

For starters, I updated our Who We Are, Q&A, Favorite Reads, First Time Here pages, and even our welcome note. No longer are we in the middle of a move, or unemployment, and our progressive changes in lifestyle ought to be reflected in the background we have provided for you, so please check them out!

It has been a while since I gave you an update on where we are with the foreclosure process. Not intentional, I assure you; there are just too many things to write about! So, in a nutshell, this is what’s going on. While Papa’s new job has enabled us to bring home a little more mula, it is still far too little to pay our mortgage as well as take care of our family, so we cannot pick up the mortgage payments and attempt to get back to where we were in May 2011 when we stopped paying them. We are, however, still paying on the home equity loan we had, at least until our mortgage company and bank decide this is not necessary.

Foreclosure, we’ve discovered, is not as simple as handing in the keys and avoiding the payments. Papa has filled out countless forms, mostly repeating the same information over and over, as to why we are unable to make the payments, etc. In early December we were finally handed a notice of foreclosure by the local court house, saying that the mortgage company is threatening to repossess the house. We have not been issued an eviction notice, but because we told the mortgage company we’re not living there, they have winterized the house.

In the meantime, the mortgage company, and the bank who owns our home equity loan are arguing over whether or not the lien on the property for the secondary loan can be dropped in order to make the house available for short sale. At this point that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. Politics.

However, with all that said, a relative of one of our neighbors, as the property used to be in the ownership of their family, has recently made an offer of $25,000 to buy the place. Our realtor agrees with us that it would be stupid for the mortgage company not to accept the offer, but again, it will be mountains of paperwork and countless phone calls, and who knows how many weeks before it is decided whether they can purchase the place for that little or not. We don’t know exactly how a sale would impact the foreclosure process or our relationship with the mortgage company or the bank, but it appears that one way or the other, the house will no longer be in our possession by the end of 2012. Time will tell.

Not entirely a nutshell I guess…

On the home front, our addition to the camper is closed in. Papa has installed windows, a temporary door, and closed in the edges of the exposed side above and to the sides of the camper so that it is protected from the elements. When we are able to save up enough money, insulating the porch will be the next project. We may begin heating with the woodstove anyway, to help thaw out the 50 gallon barrels of filtered and bleached well water, but we’re taking it one day at a time.

While we intend to have the porch complete in preparation for winter next year, Papa and I have been toying with the idea of (once summer comes) attempting to move the camper out from the porch, selling it, and using the income to build an additional room on the opposite side of the porch (where the camper was) to basically create a small home. The sale of the camper would more than cover the cost, and it would give us more freedom to create a furniture layout that works while we save up for our forever home. The downside: having to figure out a new water system if we aren’t using what’s in the camper. However, this is all in the talk stage right now. It may or may not happen.

Sometime before Chickie/Chap arrives, we also need to purchase a family car. Right now we are still using Papa’s truck and a borrowed car. I was hoping to cover the expense of a car with my herbal remedy sales, but the transition from unemployment to employment left us with no income for three weeks and the herbal money was pretty much what we lived off during that time. Now, we hope that the income tax return we get in February will cover not only our midwife expenses, but a used car as well. Something will work out.

I do want to stop here and point out something I know I’ve mentioned before, that while each of the difficulties we’ve faced are disappointing, there have been blessings throughout: we may be without a car of our own, but we have family who have lent us one to use in the meantime; we weren’t able to use the herbal sales as a jump start for a car fund, but it bought our groceries when we didn’t have an income; we weren’t able to finish the addition before winter, but we have a place to store water and we’re staying warm. There are just so many ways that God has provided for us and we are so thankful, because we know we don’t deserve it.

Moving on into the year – sometime in March we will welcome our fourth baby into the world, here at home with our midwife team. During and after this time we’ll be taking a break from homeschooling. I suppose that may sound funny to be thinking about considering Buddy is only in PreK, but I do like to keep track of all our projects and activities, and I don’t want to commit to that during my babymoon. I am also working on scheduling about eight weeks worth of guest posts during that time frame. This part I’m really excited about because there are so many bloggers who I know would be able to make a wonderful contribution to this blog. More info on this will be coming soon I expect.

Our homeschool year begins June 1st and ends May 31st. This year Buddy will begin Kindergarten and Girlie will begin PreK. Their education is largely based on experience – applying early reading, math, science, and social studies to family conversation, farm work, home duties, baby care, art and craft projects, etc. I have a few ideas for basic “book work”, but will be avoiding textbooks, fill-in-the-blank or rote work pages, and tests for a few years at least. I have ideas for posts on our homeschooling practices, which I expect to be sharing in the next month or two, so I won’t go into too much detail here, but I’m very excited about our early education plans!

In 2011 I took my five years of backyard herbal growing and home remedy making to selling them. It was on a very small scale, using herbal parties among family as our platform. Based on the performance of the sales, I do believe it is worth pursuing this as a home business. However, it is a lot of work, for which I am not entirely prepared to do with a new baby this year. Instead I want to focus on preparing more tea to sell to past customers, and researching business development for herbal sales in 2013.

Papa and I do want to expand our vegetable and flower gardens this year. Last year we produced enough food to have more than we needed to eat fresh veggies for the summer, but not quite enough to make preserving them worthwhile. This year we want to produce enough to can for winter eating. We also found a more local heritage seed company that we want to support when we’re ready to begin.

As for the chickens, we are pleased with the production we’ve had this year. On a good day we collect 10 eggs and a duck egg, on a bad day we find 5 or 6 eggs and no duck eggs. What we don’t use we sell to family and friends for $2 a dozen (with donated egg cartons). We have had to keep the birds in the coop for a couple days at a time to ensure they are laying the eggs where we want them, but they are mostly free ranging. This year we are planning to experiment with raising chickens – incubating a small number of eggs and seeing if we can get them to hatch. If we can, raising chickens for meat and eggs will probably become a long term project for us. And, believe it or not, meat rabbits have also been discussed around here.

Another change that I will try not to spill too much about because I want to devote it to another post has to do with a sudden jump in readership here at AFN. As I will share with you soon, it has been a surprise and a joy to see that not only are we attracting readers with similar views, but they are actively pursuing similar lifestyles, and apparently, we are helping them to accomplish their goals! I had a vision for this blog, but I honestly did not expect for it to take root as quickly as it has. Because of this, Papa and I are researching development of this blog to keep up with the growing needs of our readers. I am absolutely in over my head here, but excited all the same! Stay tuned to hear how you can help, and to learn what ideas we have in mind for the future of American Family Now.

an herbal remedy review

Last week I attended my eighth and probably my final herbal remedy party for the season. Not only am I thankful God blessed us with the extra income while we were in limbo between unemployment and the first paycheck, but I am also very excited to report that not only has customer feedback back simply positive, but a couple of my remedies have far surpassed my hopes in their design.

Like I tell my customers, I have no further education in herbal medicine – everything I have learned has been through countless hours of research and experimenting on my family. The trouble is, experimenting on one’s family takes a long time to learn the effectiveness of a time-old remedy’s use in today’s world of over-the-counter meds. So it is very exciting to see volunteers come forward, use my remedies, and give amazing feedback.

This is not a sales pitch, but I do want to tell you about these wonderful herbs because God deserves the credit for designing them.

Many of you know that for a couple of years I have been making a diaper rash cream out of comfrey. I’ve been giving this salve away to friends with babies, and confirmed that it wasn’t just my baby’s bums it could heal (because sometimes I really do wonder if I’m just imagining the miracles this salve works), but that it really is a great alternative to store-bought creams.

This year I added a new salve to my line of products, using not only comfrey, but several othe herbs: Calendula, chamomile, yarrow, lavender, rosemary, valerian, lemon balm, thyme, and echinacea.

My hope was that this remedy could be used to treat minor wounds and replace the need for antibiotic ointment. Then Papa discovered that both salves removed pain from his elbow joints, and I was amazed to discover that the first aid salve was able to remove both joint and nerve pain from my hip (thank you pregnancy!). This really is a universal first aid product!

The second most popular remedy among my customers was the clear mind tincture, which I made from basil, oregano, lemon balm, chamomile, and valerian. This remedy was made for treating various nerve-related symptoms such as insomnia, stress, indigestion, and depression. Some of the herbs have been used historically for increasing memory and energy, but while I did say that was a potential benefit, I was excited to see that it was a quick responding treatment for memory problems! The most incredible story yet came from a customer whose son has tourette syndrome. His meds were not really helping with the tics, so she got permission from his doctor to add my clear mind tincture to his morning routine, and right away the tics were dramatically reduced!

Next year I want to work on new ideas I have, such as a cold and flu treatment for young kids, and comfrey ice pack kits, but with a new baby on the way and sleepless nights ahead, I may instead be devoting much of my herbal time to drying and combining teas. We’ll see. I am happy with how the parties went, and I still hope to start a business in the next couple years, but for now I’ll use the remedies I have and encourage family and friends to use herbs for medicine. They really work!

(if you are a family or friend of mine, I do still have TONS of salves and some tinctures available for sale, email me if you are interested!)

herbal remedies 2011

We may have closed our online herbal store, but we still have a larger variety of remedies this year to sell locally, and use for our own family. I’m very excited about what I’ve come up with; learning how herbs work and in what combinations they can be used, for so many ailments.

Five years ago I began with comfrey ice packs and each year I have added a few more herbs and preparations, experimenting on my family to see what worked and what didn’t.

This year, in addition to a few single herb teas and tinctures, here are the newest remedies I’ve added to my medicine cabinet.

Nature’s First Aid Salve. This salve is the result of a hope I’ve had for some time to replace pharmaceutical antibiotic cream for minor wounds.

Baby Bum Salve. Last year’s salve did not have calendula, like this year’s version, but everyone I’ve given a tub to now swears by the stuff and won’t put anything else on their baby’s bum. My only frustration with this year’s salve is that while I thought I used the same proportions of oil to beeswax, this year’s did not turn out as creamy. Oh well, it’s not supposed to be a lotion, since it is to be applied as needed for rashes.

I made three different teas using varying combinations of herbs to create woman’s tonic, cold and flu remedy, and asthma relief teas. I did not realize how much dried herb it takes to make tea, so this supply is limited, but I did want to share something really neat that happened when Papa was helping me prepare the asthma tea.

Papa has had trouble with cedar-induced asthma, and his airways haven’t been quite the same since his allergic reaction to the wood. While he was breaking up the herbs, he said he started breathing easier – just inhaling the dust from the herbs breaking down! I was really hoping to create a tea that would help him, and I think I may have done it, but next year I hope we can build another solar dehydrator so I can dry more herbs at one time!

I then created three tinctures: a clear mind remedy to improve memory, alertness, energy, and reduce stress; a headache relief remedy – self explanatory; and a digestive aid to help with cold symptoms and colic.

What herbs did I use in my remedies? Here is a list of the plants that grew well in my garden this summer (not including other cooking herbs and veggies): calendula, chamomile, yarrow, lavender, rosemary, valerian, comfrey, lemon balm, thyme, echinacea, horehound, anise hyssop, sage, basil, and oregano.

I already have fresh ideas for remedies I want to make next year, but until I know how well my remedies will sell this season, I don’t want to get too excited; I still have to think about adjusting to having four kids next year!

Why we are closing our herbal store

Yes, it is true. Just weeks before our 2011 herbal remedies will be available, we have decided to close our online store.

Why the change of plans? For three reasons: one, response to the salves we had available last year was less than exciting; two, I have six herbal remedy parties scheduled among friends and family so far and I don’t think I will have much left afterwards to sell online.

The third reason is a little more complicated. We live in Maine where making and selling herbal remedies is legal, but in order to avoid FDA regulation (which is cost prohibitive to a home-based business) we have to keep our sales within our state.

My interest in herbal remedies began in part because increased government intrusion into people’s lives made me wonder how long it would be before over-the-counter medications became a thing of the past. I wanted to ensure that even if that happened I would be able to treat my family’s illnesses.

My suspicions grew when herbal remedies were made illegal in the UK. How long before pharmaceutical companies decide they don’t have enough control over home-made remedies and start banning them in the US? It’s not that far-fetched, really.

My hope is that not only will growing, preparing, and selling herbal remedies locally will enhance my knowledge and skills, but that I will also inspire others to take responsibility for their own healthcare as well.

That inspiration is why I will continue to share with you how we prepare our remedies, because even if I can’t sell them to you (if you live out-of-state), I can do my best to encourage you to do it for yourself. I have found it a rewarding experience and I’m so glad I was inspired to start in my humble kitchen.

Making herbal teas

We have had far more rain recently then we could ever wish for. Because our camper sitting on top of an underground river, not only did we get our vehicles stuck in the field, but we also have to deal with moisture inside. Which is why I freaked out when my “dry” chamomile was damp.

So, on an already crazy evening, Papa and I did an emergency rescue of the dried herbs before they went bad. Thankfully I discovered that the paper bags were wicking moisture into the herbs before it was too late, and after a little baking of some of them we repackaged them into plastic bags to avoid that problem again before we can sell them.

I’m almost ready to finish my remedies, finally update our online herbal store, and start offering herbal parties to friends and family. I’m so excited to be sharing my new knowledge of herbal medicine with others and really hope it takes off! Stay tuned for the unveiling of our new store, probably late this month!

a few changes

A whole week without posts, I can’t imagine how you have managed without updates from our family! (I do hope you hear the sarcasm) Even with the week off, I was in doubt for a few days whether I would have enough time to accomplish my short-term goals for blog development before the time I told you I would be back. Despite the craziness of the past couple weeks I have still managed to make a few changes and breakdown my goals into easy steps which I can take over the course of the next few weeks while still posting updates.

a friend comes to visit

 Updates to AFN this week include adding mentions of our newest baby and house updates on the Who We Are page and Q&A. The Store page has been updated with our current Sale on comfrey salves in prep for the release of our new remedies this fall.

 I also removed comment moderation, which means new visitors will be able to share a comment and not have to wait until I approve it to see their comment on the page. Spam will hopefully be caught by the WordPress program, but if not I will delete it as soon as it is spotted. The last of the noticeable changes is the option in the side column to add AFN to your RSS feed, which some blog readers prefer over email subscription. We want this blog to be convenient for our family, friends, and new visitors to enjoy.

 I can’t wait to put all my ideas in action, but it may take some time. Keep checking back to see what’s new. Don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already, and share your thoughts – we love comments!

Entrepeneurism in the blood

We totally get ourselves over our heads. Glen and I both are dreamers and we’ve always got the most awesome idea, that rarely comes to complete fruition. Think Crystal Iris, No Poop Coops (which we haven’t given up on yet), midwifery (as of this date), pregnancy support center, adopting a dozen kids (which we may still do, years and years from now), the Square Up, and a bunch of other things I’ve already forgotten about.

Atlas, wrapped in the same blankets that kept Glen warm when he first cam home from the hospital.

But at the heart of all this is the spirit of entrepeneurism. If that’s not a word, I’ll bet you can gather the meaning anyway. We like to create, design, imagine. And if we couldn’t do those things life wouldn’t be much fun really.  While we do these things because we enjoy them, we’ve also clung to the hope that one day our ideas would provide some kind of income, so that Glen would be free to pursue asset-building that uses his mind more than carpentry does. Don’t get me wrong, we both GREATLY appreciate his job, and Glen has repeatedly said that he couldn’t ask for a better employer, but it’s just not us.

Nemo making blueberry muffins

And so, the pursuit of home industry as a family goal has been on our minds since the founding of our home. I don’t want to give away too much right now because I plan to do a couple special posts next month which will have a lot of what I want to say now, but think greenhouses, farmstands, organic eggs, and herbal remedy parties, and you’ll get the idea.

Chicken Hotel - in process of upgrading the chicken coop

Take these bloggers for example, who use every available resource on their small property to produce useful and beautiful things. While we don’t intend to use every square inch of our property in this endeavor, we really do want to get the most out of the assets we have, including our minds. And if that means we can generate an extra income together, wonderful! It’s something we can involve the kids in, it’s healthy, we can help others to be healthy, and it just plain feels good.

Daphney helping me make hand lotion

What is your family’s home industry? How do you inspire entrepeneurism and financial independence in your children? Please tell me, I love ideas!

Oh yes! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with your families!

My Herbal Cabinet

Honestly, I’ve never had that many pills in my medicine cabinet, and most of them were vitamin supplements. Even before I learned why large amounts of medications are generally not good, Glen and I just didn’t feel that great about using them unless we REALLY needed to. But after my great success with comfrey, I was inspired to learn more about herbs as a natural alternative to drugs, a more gently approach to treating illness and discomfort in the body.

This past spring I added to my garden nettles, yarrow, and skullcap, and decided that I would try making different kinds of herbal treatments including tinctures, infusions, and salves. Unfortunately the nettles did not take, but a friend recently gave me a couple of her nettle plants so next spring I’ll try again.

I found lots of resources for different herbal recipes, and lists of uses for these herbs. Much of it was found through Google, but a few of the books in my collection include The Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year, The Pregnancy Herbal, A Garden of Herbal Remedies, New Choices in Natural Healing, and The Ministry of Midwifery. Surprisingly, many of the remedies mentioned in midwifery books apply to other health challenges families face.

I printed a list to post on the wall of all the uses I found for my new remedies. Things like infections, cuts and bruises, headaches, insomnia, pms, toothaches, muscle pain and more. I think it’s very rewarding to be making my own “medications” for far less money and far less side effects.

Speaking of saving money, I started looking up prices for premade tinctures, oils, and salves. Even the ones made from regular olive oil like mine were really expensive! I currently have two quart jars of oil infusing in the closet and each one is worth about $80! I could never afford to buy this stuff already made, but doing it myself it is SO cheap. If you are concerned about the negative effects of long term use of medication, if you can’t afford over the counter drugs all the time, or you just like doing things yourself, I highly recommend making your own herbal remedies.

And they really are effective! Daphney broke out with a rash of some kind, it looked like hives, and I immediately put some of my comfrey/yarrow/skullcap salve on it. Within 45 minutes it was only faint lines instead of big puffy white lines, and shortly after disappeared. The comfrey salve clears up diaper rashes at least as quickly as medicated diaper ointment. The skullcap tincture really does take away headaches, and the comfrey ice packs, well, let’s just say, they’ve saved us at least a couple trips to the ER with Daphney!

Next year I plan to grow even more herbs, except Glen will be doing much more to help me. He has become inspired to take over much of the gardening, beginning with a green house he wants to assemble, from used materials, in the backyard. I’m so excited to see him jump in because now this truly will be a family venture! He’ll do the growing and I’ll concoct the remedies. Who knows, maybe I could even start selling a few of them now and then.