Herbal Tinctures- What Are They & How To Make One

Hollyberry Herb Farm

An Herbal Tincture is a method of preserving the medicinal attributes of an herb in such a way will allow you to use the herbs long after their season is gone.  As I have said before, the more herbs you eat, the healthier you will be.  However, at certain times of the year, certain herbs are not available.  So, by making tinctures you can use herbs all year round.  Typically, to make a tincture you steep the herb of choice in vodka or brandy for four to six weeks.  Once the herb matter is strained out and the liquid re-bottled, the tincture will keep indefinitely.

The essential oils and herbal essences are soluble in alcohol making alcohol a better solvent than vinegar for making tinctures.  Once the menstruum (plant material and solvent) has steeped, all the herbal goodness and health benefits of the herbs will be suspended and concentrated in…

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Wild Rose Cupcakes & Buttercream Frosting: A Divine Confection

gather

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“Mystery glows in the rose bed, the secret is hidden in the rose.” 12th Century Persian Poem

Don’t underestimate the power of this demure, pretty, little cupcake. Behind its girly facade lies a scent and flavor so compelling, so transporting, that it has been from time immemorial associated with magic, mysticism, esoteric secrets, sacred sexuality, the unfolding of higher consciousness, and most especially – divine feminine power.

The story of the wild rose (from which all our domesticated roses descend) could fill books – and has. Reputed to be millions of years old, the five petal rose (Rosa canina) blooms in late spring in woodlands and fields across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North America.  The colours of our wild rose vary from pale pink to dark cerise, and are extremely nutritious, high in Vitamin C, antioxidants, polyphenols and bioflavonoids.

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Here in the Pacific Northwest, our native species are…

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Fun with DIY: Skinceuticals-Dupe Vitamin C Tutorial

The Acid Queen

UPDATED 8/10/16: I am so thrilled that people still find this tutorial useful! I’ve grown a lot as a DIYer since I first wrote this tutorial (and even launched a skincare business), and to give you the best experience possible, I’ve updated the instructions based on my own personal best practices. The recipe itself is the same.

Back to our originally scheduled programming…

I have tried a lot of DIY vitamin C recipes in my time. A lot. Of. Recipes. I’ve experimented with different emulsifiers, solubilizers, humectants, film formers, even preservatives. I used every online recipe I could find and tried to tweak them all. I hated almost everything I made.

In a fit of desperation, I Googled around to see if anyone had created a dupe of the phenomenal Skinceuticals CE Ferulic serum. Lo and behold, Lotioncrafter had just the thing. I tried it, and it worked. It…

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A Super Easy Old-Fashioned Creamy Dessert: Honey Lilac Posset (Or Rose, Elderflower, Peony, Lavender…)

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“Be cheerful knight: thou shalt eat a posset to-night at my house”  William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Dating back to the middle ages, the posset is making a comeback. Perfect for when you want to whip up a special dessert with minimal effort, it’s made with three ingredients, honey, cream and lemon juice. These are boiled together and chilled overnight. That’s it. And if that isn’t wonderful enough, try infusing your posset with spring flowers like lilac, wild rose or elderflower. Simply divine.

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If you follow Gather’s fb page you’ll likely have noticed we’ve become smitten with possets. This began when I discovered this amazing recipe for Lemon Lavender Posset. Because lavender wasn’t yet ready, I decided to use what was in full bloom at the time -the glorious fragrant blossoms of lilac. The results were delicious.

This inspired Jennifer to create Elderflower Posset (she tossed in a few of our native

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Black Cherry – for Wildlife, and People, too!

The Natural Web

Black Cherry or Wild Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) is a bountiful tree for wildlife, and an important species for humans, too.  It blooms in spring, with a profusion of long, slender, densely packed flower clusters.

Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) in bloom Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) in bloom

The flowers offer nectar and pollen as enticements to a variety of bee and fly species who need this food to survive. The insects become Black Cherry’s unsuspecting pollination partners.  In return for the food provided to these insect floral visitors, the flowers benefit by having some of their pollen transported on the insects’ bodies and deposited advantageously for pollination on other Black Cherry flowers.  Successful pollination will result in fruit that ripens in late summer and fall.

A broad spectrum of animals eat Black Cherry’s fleshy fruit. Many thrushes, woodpeckers, sparrows, bluebirds, tanagers, orioles, and Cedar Waxings are among the dozens of bird species that eat the fruit.

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The Hidden Dangers of Botany

Pursuit of botany starts off innocently enough: maybe you are a gardener interested in learning about plant biology, maybe you are a survivalist wanting to learn about edible plants, or maybe you are a wildlife lover who wants to attract hummingbirds to your yard. Whatever the reason, you need to make sure you are fully prepared for the havoc you may wreak upon your life.  Before you read that gardening book, click that link, or go to that native plant conference, take the time to educate yourself about the hidden dangers of botany:

  1. You can’t un-see the scenery.

Like walking in on your parents, plant identification is one of those things that you can’t un-see.  Before you learn about botany, the world around you consists of only vague categories of greenery.  Afterwards, plant scientific names practically scream themselves at you every time you go outside. Sure you might feel “more…

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natural hair dye with black walnuts!

almost exactly blog

IT’S FINALLY HERE! a natural hair dye for those that want to be any shade of brunette (literally…from light brown to almost black) because, let’s face it, brunettes are better 😉
i tease, i tease!

and if you saw the sneak peek picture i gave y’all a couple posts ago, you’re right if you guessed i was holding Black Walnuts! i’ve always wanted to try this dye, but never wanted to shell out the money for black walnut hull powder when i knew i could pick them up in huge quantities from around my parents’ home. sooo i waited….and waited… BUT now i have 10 extras to take back with me! woohoo!

black walnut hair dye - all natural & completely non-damaging way to be any shade of brunette you wanna be!

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How To Make An Herbal Tea

The Making of a Home

Passion Flower makes a wonderful tea that can really calm the nerves. Passion Flower makes a wonderful tea that can really calm the nerves.

When talking with folks about herbs I find that one of the big mysteries of growing herbs is how to get them from the garden to the table- especially in regards to medicinal herbs.

Well, the simplest way to use an herb to make you feel better is to make a simple tea.  The directions below will seem overly simple but that is the point- it is simple.

Tea using fresh herbs:

A tablespoon of selected herb

1-2 cups of boiling water

Place herb in heat-proof container and pour water over the herb.  Place a lid on the container and allow to steep for 10-15 minutes.  It is important to keep the container covered as the essential oil (where much of the herbal goodies are) will evaporate in the steam. Strain herb matter out.

Enjoy- that is it. …

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