Homemade Yogurt, Dependably Good, Lower Environmental Impact, and Incredibly Frugal


On average a gallon of organic whole milk costs six dollars.  One plain cup of unflavored yogurt costs around one dollar.  This is all you need to make yogurt.  For seven dollars you can easily make a gallon of organic, rich, pure yogurt; that works out to about $1.75 per quart.  I have access to a local farmer’s milk, which I get directly into my own glass gallon jugs, which makes it even cheaper!  For starter yogurt I love to buy Fiddle Creek Dairy yogurt which comes in glass jars.  They treat their Jersey cows right; they are 100% grass-fed and, I know from visiting their verdant farm, are very happy and loved.

Being such an economical source of protein and calcium, I use it for breakfast, for smoothies, in sauces, in place of sour cream, and served plain alongside spicy curries.  It is easy to make, even without special equipment.

In yogurt-making, there is one thing to be finicky about:  cleanliness.  Thoroughly wash, in hot soapy water, everything that you will use; pot, spoon, ladle, jars, etc.  Some recipes call for sterilizing everything with boiling water, but I’ve never found that necessary as long as everything has just been washed well.

What you don’t have to be finicky about:  measuring.  I pour whatever amount of milk I have into a pot, and for the starter yogurt I scoop out about a cup’s worth, no matter the quantity of milk.

So, without further ado….

  1.  Heat whole milk over medium-low heat until it reaches 180 degrees.  Remove from heat and let it cool to 115 (you can ice bath it if you want to hurry up the cooling).
  2. Dump in your starter yogurt.  Do not whisk it, do not harass it at all!  You want to keep the integrity to the yogurt.  (This was the best advice I’ve received in all my years of making yogurt; it truly makes a difference in the final texture).  If you are going to be pouring the yogurt into several containers, just make sure each one gets some of the yogurt blob.
  3. Pour into large glass jar(s).  Situate them, without lids, in a cooler or bucket of hot water, making sure it comes up as far on the jars as it can without floating them.  Cover with heavy towels or blankets and let them incubate for at least six hours, even overnight is fine as long as the heat is maintained.
  4. Refrigerate and enjoy!!!

Some folks use their homemade yogurt as their starter for the next batch, but I don’t.  I find more success with starting with a fresh culture, and I love the quality of Fiddle Creek Dairy’s yogurt.  Their glass jars are also handy around the house or are readily recyclable!

So there you have it…less packaging waste, saved money, and a tasty, easy, healthy food!



There was nothing to say, but plenty for the hands to do.  I cut vintage fabric, lace, and paper into long strips and wrapped them around rough-cut bars of soap, finishing with jute or sea grass tied in a simple bow, the ends dangling over the side.  I cut the craft paper labels and affixed those.  Piles and piles of “dressed” soaps, tucked into paper bundles, swaddled in bubble wrap, and sent to all over the United States.

And just like that the weeks passed with the smell of hot glue and essential oils, with the continual littering below my drafting table of paper and fabric bits.  With the baby continually sniffing at the soaps, crinkling his nose with delight.  And my soap shelves grew bare and sparse and I marveled at it all; this unexpected provision from a hobby gone madhouse.

image1-6 image2-3 IMG_2728 Though we were unable to establish an online shop yet, the email orders came flooding in.  It was good timing; I’ve been ordered to rest and all but my hands have obeyed.  I sat at my drafting table and worked and worked without tiring out my heavily pregnant body.  And it’s been a good distraction from counting down the weeks until baby’s arrival.

It’s quiet and fulfilling work and it feels like a gift.  There’s flexibility and variety and creativity, and remarkably, a profit margin.  Usually my work in this world brings every good thing except a paycheck.

I was surprised as the days passed that I had no words for here; I had my quiet work and a quiet heart.  The snow is falling outside, the children playing there turning it all into a magical blank canvas upon which to create.  The baby sleeps deep and the turkey bakes with the smell of orange zest and rosemary.  And my words are few, but come from a grateful, quieted heart.


And From the Kitchen…

And From the Kitchen…

Oh, how I love a plate of good food.  The catch is that, the better you become at cooking, the less fun going out to eat at most places is.  I thought of this as I proceeded to “fix” the bland guacamole at one restaurant, even going so far as to ask the waiter for some fresh lemon wedges.  A bit of salt, lemon juice, and hot pepper sauce later, there was a decent guacamole before me, but still not so near as good as homemade.  Not.  Near.

Make some:

Mash avocados.  Douse with fresh lemon juice (don’t even think of the plastic lemon full of bitter juice, just don’t), maybe one lemon for every three avocados.  Mince white onion, mix a spoonful of sugar into it and squeeze the mass with your hands (extracts the excess sulfur).  Pour hot water over the onions and let it sit for a bit.  Rinse thoroughly with cold water, pat dry, and add to the bowl (this is a latin american trick I learned living in Chile and it really lets the onions showcase their taste without overwhelming other flavors).  Mince 1 jalapeño and 1 tomato for every avocado used and add those too.  Mince cilantro, at least a 1/4 c. per avocado and add that.  Mix all that deliciousness together.  Now the salt…don’t skimp on the salt, you want to bring those flavors out into full bloom.  Test with a tortilla chip, to take it’s own salty quotient into the equation.  Taste, eyes rolling back and an involuntary groan of pleasure escaping.


Now going to authentic ethnic restaurants is rarely disappointing and most usually my reactions to what is set before me are downright comical.  I simply cannot stop sighing and exclaiming and groaning with delight.  I am Bob from “What About Bob?”.  I can’t help it.  When a tikka masala is creamy and spicy and exquisitely complex, when the jasmine rice is al dente and fragrant, when the naan is hot from the oven, and when the cucumber sauce on the gyro dribbles it’s dilly goodness down my throat, I am undone.  Can’t.  Contain.  The.  Joy.

But I am no thorough food snob.  McDonald’s french fries, when they’re piping hot and salty, are heavenly.  And there is something about spicy nacho Doritos inserted inside a turkey sandwich on a hot summer’s day that is just rockin’.  Don’t get me started the simple pleasure of Dr. Pepper in a glass with ice alongside pizza.  Or Butterfingers.  Mercy.

And now I give you my favorite salad, which is painless to make and is made nearly daily in our home to add zing to the meal:

Cut up some lettuce and/or spinach, cabbage, avocados, tomatoes, shredded carrots, julienned celery, whatever you have on hand, and throw it all in a bowl.  Chop up some green onions or garlic chives and add to the bowl.  Mince some parsley or cilantro or both and sprinkle that in.  Juice a lemon into a separate bowl and stir an equal quantity of a mild oil to the juice (safflower, sunflower, or light olive work great).  Stir about a 1/4 tsp salt in and get it emulsified with a mini whisk or fork.  Pour over the salad.  Test for saltiness; add more if the flavors aren’t zinging, or more lemon.  This zingy salad pairs so well with creamy, heavy, or cheesy dishes, awakening your palate every few bites with it’s zest and freshness.  My children fight over the seconds.  This pleases me much.  I’m so addicted to these flavors that I will order salads at restaurants with a side of lemon wedges so that I can make this (more or less) with the oil and salt at the table.

The downside to all this culinary happiness and productivity is that my children cannot be tempted by the offer of Hey kids, how about cereal for dinner? or Why don’t we just have some ice cream instead of making a big meal?  No, they will give me a withering look and ask plainly for real food.  So here’s the desperate quick fixes for those tired evenings when the palate is still annoyingly expectant:

Parmesan Pleasure-  Boil pasta just to al dente; nothing worse than a floppy noodle mushing about in your mouth (shudder).  Top with grated fresh parmesan, chopped tomatoes, salt, and a splash of greek dressing.  Comfort food for sure.

Pizza-tilla-  Spread pizza sauce on tortillas or english muffin halves, or crackers, top with cheese and whatever toppings you have on hand.  Bake until crispy and bubbly.  A bit of minced onion, diced ham, and pineapple on top amps the flavor Caribbean-style.

Tabla Supper-  Cut up leftover meats, chicken, cheese, sausages, and serve alongside chopped chunks of cheese, pickles, and crackers.  Mix honey and mustard together, get out some horseradish and honey and jams and lay out everything on a big wooden board and taste the night away.

Burrito Rapido-  Mix a can of refried beans together with a can of chopped chilies and get it heating in a skillet.  Stir in shredded cheddar and some canned salsa.  Slap that savory filling into tortillas and serve with sour cream galore and more salsa.  Yum.

And so, here’s a glimpse from my kitchen, from my life as a groaning gourmand.  May your day be tasty.

matter1 daily1 work IMG_2491 IMG_1806 IMG_0456 IMG_0444 IMG_1810 pups6 diapers3



Free Fats Are My Love Language

On the dining room table, on the top of a bookshelf, on my desk, and in a corner of the living room.  The soaps, dutifully curing, are taking over my home, surface by surface!  Last night we made a 100% lard soap, lightly scented with peppermint essential oil.  We jokingly call it the “Winter Minter”, and it’s such a corny, ridiculous name that it just might stick.  It looked like heavy cream going into the mold and my soaping partner and I sighed delightedly.

Today my husband is picking up two pig’s worth of lard from a friend who heard we’re making soap and offered her bounty to us.  Another friend offered us suet from his butcher shop to render tallow.  People giving us free fat is like winning the lottery!!  I’m so grateful!

Tomorrow we harvest our honey with my husband’s cousin and his wife.  It’ll be quite gratifying to see that sweet liquid gold come pouring out of the extractor.  So, basically, I’m all about sugar and fat while still being regarded widely as something of a health nut.  Smile.

On the reading front I’m working my way through “A Short History of Byzantium” by John Julius Norwich and “Common Ground:  An Introduction to Eastern Christianity for the American Christian” by Jordan Bajis.  What a blessing to have such depths of information at our very fingertips.  And they go so well with mustard pretzels.  I digress.

Morning light is pouring across the goat milk tea tree soaps, pouring in and saying that it’s probably time to get out of my pajamas and out of my reverie.  Time to head out in search of olive oil for an upcoming chamomile baby soap for my dear wee ones.  Time to wash the diapers and pull some meat out of the freezer, and in general, make this home hum with life-giving activity.  But I’ll let that creeping sunshine have a few more minutes of my sleepy-eyed wonder.

Why My Home Smells Like An Orange

soapmaking1Why hello there, mad scientist!  Yes, yes, this is the face of undisguised, unmitigated glee that I wear as I stir up a batch of soap with my dear friend Andrea.  Tonight we made 6 lbs. of a lemon-orange-coconut shampoo bar.  The fats were olive oil and coconut oil.  No artificial fragrances, just straight-up lemon and orange essential oils.  Oh, and there’s egg yolks in there too, I kid you not!  And beeswax.  And giggles.

We had talked on the phone this morning, and I let go an idea that we should make soap tonight after all our combined ten children were blissfully asleep.  It was an easy sell, because she’s obsessed too.  That helps.  Or aids and abets.  Whatever.

The point is this:  we’re two mamas of lots of littles and we’re finding niches of time to pursue a dream together.  We do what we can, when we can, with what we have, and it’s a bit glorious.  At least, we think so, in our goggles, gloves, and “lab coats”.  We may give 90% of our energy to our responsibilities throughout the day, but there is a bit of living and laughing and dream-realizing to squeeze out of the 10% left.

Photo on 9-5-14 at 2.28 PM

So as that huge fragrant slab of soap cures in my living room and blesses my home with a clean orange scent, I feel gratitude for this adventure.  It’s creative, scientific, and incredibly practical, and deeply, deeply, FUN.  What have you been putting off for “when you have time”?

And Then We Made Soap

And Then We Made Soap

soapmaking Just take a moment to absorb the full beauty of our be-goggled faces.  Ha!  My dear friend Andrea Bailey and I began our soap making adventures yesterday on quite possibly the most humid day all summer (thus why we are soaping in the kitchen and not on the porch).  We look happy here, and we were, but mostly we were terrified.  You see, in soap making you need to handle sodium hydroxide, known as lye, which is death itself in powdered form.  The stuff can eat away metal for pete’s sake.  So we were nervous and we had banished all children from the house.

We made eleven pounds of soap that morning.  ELEVEN POUNDS.  (Imagine me bopping about excitedly)  We made a tea tree-goat milk with vitamin E and a honey-oatmeal soap.  We managed not to burn ourselves nor blind ourselves (thank you, handsome goggles!), nor did we explode anything.  We did giggle a lot though, and sigh with contentment as we poured out irresistibly creamy soap into the molds.  We veritably hummed with joy as our dreams worked themselves out into fragrant slabs of beauty.  I think the most common remark that morning was “This is so satisfying.”

And it was and IS, because this morning we cut the soap….

Photo on 9-2-14 at 1.44 PM ..and this is a crappy photo taken by my computer’s camera, BUT LOOK AT ALL THAT GLORIOUS SOAP!!!   And this is just my share of the batches; Andrea has the other half. To the left is the honey-oatmeal, to the right the tea tree-goat milk.  Chuck-full of excellent oils, essential oils, and good-for-the-body stuff.  No synthetic colors nor fragrances, just good soap.

Now we let it cure at least four weeks and it will lighten a bit and become harder.  And I will stare at it in a doting way several times a day.

Our next batch is a citrus shampoo bar and then we are going to be rendering suet to make tallow for a whole bunch of marvelous recipes that we have in mind.  Yes, we’re going all pioneer-women, and it really is ridiculously fun.

So I’m grateful, ever so grateful, for this dream becoming fleshed-out and for these special times with my friend.  And that we didn’t get acid burns.  That too.

The Great Unlikely, Or How I Funded My Soap Making For Free

In the midst of harvesting our gardens and canning, I have been preparing for the adventure which is soap making.  I LOVE good soap, but not good soap prices.  I also love knowing just exactly what chemicals I’m putting on my skin (the less being the better).  I have a budget from selling two antique pieces on craigslist totaling $95.00.  For that amount I needed to be able to buy all the supplies I’d need to set up shop (consumables like fats, essential oils, and lye go on a separate budget as I hope to sell soap and recoup those costs).  When you’re on a tight budget you can either get incredibly frustrated or incredibly invigorated by the challenge.  I chose the latter, with fervor.

I was inspired by this lady, Marsha, who on a YouTube video thoughtfully and simply went through making cold process soap, and most importantly, she pointed out all the ways that you can do it cheaply.  Because it is one of those things that very easily could be done much too expensively.  She showed a wooden mold her husband had made for her.  My husband made one for me the next day out of scrap wood.  Do you know the story “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie?”; well, if you give this wife a soap mold, she’s going to want to scour online sales, thrift shops, and discount places for all the other bits needed to make soap making a reality in her life.  And she’ll want to do it without adding weight to the load of the family budget.  So she sells some unnecessary antiques that she acquired off the curb and at a yard sale, and looks at that $95.00 and grits her teeth, and says, “Let’s do this thing”.  And then she stops talking in third person.  Mercy.

So, soap making supplies can be costly.  Like, there’s a beautiful wire soap cutter that slices 12 perfect bars at once for, oh, five hundred dollars.  Or the divided molds with removable sides for eighty.  But, as my obsessive tabulations below show, it doesn’t have to be a break-the-bank proposition.  And this applies to any number of hobbies; don’t let sticker shock keep you from realizing a dream.  Realize that there’s usually another way to do things and get comparable results.  Relish the challenge!

My Soap Supply Budget

Budget:  $95.00

  1. digital scale:  $35.00 (on sale on Amazon)  This was the only precision instrument needed, so I didn’t bother looking for a used/possibly damaged one.
  2. gloves:  $2.00 (Dollar Store)  Needed for working with lye.
  3. spatulas and whisks:  $4.00 (Target)  Would have been more, but they were on sale and I had a five dollar gift card from buying our school supplies there, so saved $12.00!
  4. pitcher:  $2.07 (thrift store)  Soap making requires soap-only vessels as the lye would cross-contaminate my kitchen supplies.
  5. wooden soap mold, 10 X 20 for making 25 bars:  free (scrap wood)  (thank you, handy husband)
  6. safety goggles:  $18.00 (Amazon)  I needed chemical goggles that would prevent lye from splashing up into my eyes, which could cause blindness or severe damage.  Very worth that chunk of the budget!  Don’t skimp here!
  7. measuring spoons:  .75 (thrift store)  Good for measuring essential oils or nutrients like oatmeal or honey.
  8. small and medium liquid measuring cups:  $1.75 (thrift store)  When doing different colors or textures, these allow the batch to be divided.
  9. large pitcher:  $1.00 (thrift store)  For mixing and pouring raw soap.
  10. silicon mold:  $3.00 (thrift store)  Makes twelve decorative soaps, originally designed for baking in, these are ideal for soap making due to being able to pull away from the soap easily.
  11. two knives:  $2.75 (thrift store)  For cutting the bars.
  12. immersion blender:  $14.99 (Ollie’s Discount Store)  These are used in the saponification process to bring the lye and fats into a creamy relationship.
  13. vegetable peeler:  $1.29 (Ollie’s)  Used for trimming up the edges of cut soap bars.
  14. two candy thermometers:  $3.98 (Ollie’s)  To get both the lye and the oils/fats to the same temperature.
  15. long stainless steel spoon:  $1.79 (Ollie’s)  To stir the caustic raw soap.
  16. small batch wooden soap mold:  free (scrap wood)
  17. cutting surface:  free (my father in-law had a scrap piece of Corian countertop)
  18. books on soap making:  free (public library)
  19. stainless steel pots:  free (extras not needed in the kitchen)  These are used for melting solid fats down.

Total spent:  $92.42, under budget by $2.58

Wasn’t that a fun romp through my obsessiveness?   HA!

IMG_2455 Some of the supplies….doesn’t it just make you, I don’t know, want to make soap RIGHT NOW?IMG_2456

So, you see how I roll.  And best of all?  I’ve whirled my friend Andrea into my soaping vortex and we’re attempting our first batch on Monday.  So.  Indescribably.  Excited.

What dream can you work on that you’ve put off?  What could you sell to help you get there?  Trade a good for a better and let me know how it went!


What I Can, While I Can

The afternoon was warming and the elderberries were darkening crimson and I’d gone out to collect some ahead of the birds.  If you wait too long, the ripe berries, just the size of peppercorns, cascade to the ground with a stiff breeze.  Near half of them feed the birds and I can’t begrudge that.  So you have to go out, see, when half the cyme is still green and harvest what you can, when you can.

Sirens were in the distance and the sun beat down and the mulch was damp under my feet from the morning rain.  The sirens neared.  Police cars came up our street, lights flashing, officers huffing up the street counting down house numbers, looking for a particular place, across the way, a few houses down.  A man opened his door and waved them in.  More sirens pierced the air from far off.

The man paced in the front yard as the officers brought bags in from their cars, a yard brimming with flowers and bushes.  Arms waving hopelessly I heard him tell another neighbor what was going on.  I heard snatches of his words.  My sister.  Unresponsive.  Heart attack.  Gave her mouth-to-mouth.  Just nothing.

I had laid the bowl of elderberries aside and joined a knot of neighbors on the hot sidewalk.  I watched a man’s heart being broken on a sunny afternoon.

The fire truck came and after an eternity of minutes, the ambulance.  Grim-faced paramedics sped in with more bags and a plastic gurney.  When they didn’t rush her out with speed, when the pace of it all slowed way down, when the fire truck pulled away, and the officer escorted the brother to a side yard to write down details, I knew.

I didn’t know the woman; all I know is that she was in her sixties and that they didn’t know how long she’d been in the state her brother found her in.  We all walked back to our homes; death is too sacred to be a spectator event.

The grapes are ripening next to the elderberries.  They’re a small variety, sweet with an edge of bitter.  Tougher skins than grocery store grapes that are bred to uniform perfection.  I slip some into my hands and chew them in the hot sun on a day that that man won’t forget.

Life; we don’t all get a hundred years of it and it can end swift and on a sunny day no less.  We don’t get uniform lives, predictable ones.  They’re full of sweet bits and bitter ones and the whole deal looks nothing like what’s advertised, does it?  But it’s good.

So, I can’t farm, I can’t have chickens, I can’t breathe life into our dwindling accounts, and I can’t just run back to South America where life had so much life and color and purpose.  But I can make soap.  Stay with me now.

What can I do while I can do something?

I have a hundred dreams, so I pulled one out of storage.  Making soap.  I love good soap, but unless I find a screaming deal on some goat milk or triple-milled french stuff, we can’t buy it.  I knew it would cost some money to get some equipment, but not much.  So I sold a hutch I’d refinished (that I’d picked up from a curb for free) and an antique ice crusher on craigslist.  I had ninety-five dollars to make a dream come true.

Thirty-five went for a good quality digital scale, the only precision instrument needed.  I weaseled my husband into agreeing to build me some soap molds out of scrap wood.  I plundered my cooking supplies for extra pots and measuring containers that could be dedicated to soap-making.  I watched YouTube videos and checked books out of the library.  Long gloves from the dollar store.  Safety glasses left over from fireworks.  And fifty-nine dollars left over to buy fats and lye and essential oils.

It truly is something to be able to do something.

Now it’s just a matter of deciding what kind to do first…lemon-lime-coconut shampoo bar?  Honey-oatmeal body bar?  Tea Tree-Sweet Almond?  Peppermint-Goat Milk for Christmas gifts?  Should I open an Etsy shop?  Try to sell locally?  Just make for ourselves and friends?  Or maybe slow down and see how my first batch turns out, crazy self??

But, I CAN DO SOMETHING!  That’s the joy and the hope of it.  I’m not trapped by our fences, but free to create within them.

And I realize that in the past year’s time I’ve seen many dreams come true…I am now an amateur beekeeper and supplied our household with a year’s worth of honey with extra to give away.  I got to take a pottery class and feel all that slippery clay yield to my shaping hands.  I taught myself candle dipping and have now both white and deep yellow beeswax tapers aplenty to light our way through winter.  I wrote a short story that I love; the first story I’ve ever exposed to public view without cringing.  I started this small corner for writing, for spilling words and exercising my writing muscles.

All of this happened as many of my dreams came crashing down about my ears.  Oh the irony.  Oh the grace.

So I will do what I am able, as long as I am able, and I’ll count it as joy.  Because it really doesn’t matter how wide our fences are, but how we live within them.


Perfect Toxicity And Healing Rattiness

My whole yard is full of medicine.  Plantain a-plenty, comfrey, violets, chamomile, onions, dandelions, elderberries, rose hips, and such.  Down at the stream the offerings are burdock, dock, black walnut, watercress, jewelweed, and stinging nettle.  Useful herbs for making tinctures, compresses, healthy salads, teas, and salves; they abound everywhere, naturally.  Unless you blast your yard with herbicide that is.

Then you get grass.

Unblemished wide swaths of it.  Oh, and neighbor envy.  And probably a good measure of pride.  I get it; I have this intense urge to roll around on such lawns and enjoy their carpet-like uniformity.  I would much rather play croquet there than on my own weedy turf.  Less chance of getting stung by a bee as there’s no clover about.  Wait…no bees?  No bee food?

My yard is alive.  There is a veritable ant highway across the walkway.  There is the regular helicopter-like thrum of the bumblebees.  The birds adore the wild patches and the plump grubs and worms.  The bees delight in the clover and bee balm and you should see the spiders in the fall (shudder).  The compost bin wreaks of life, earthy organic vitality being slowly wrought into rich soil.  Things grow here like mad.

“You must really have God’s ear”, says Bob, our elderly neighbor as he looks out on our gardens.  I laugh with him.  He’s lived on this block forever and had gotten used to seeing the place looking less, um, lively.  pa

The front lawn was a mat of zoysia grass, which I’ve heard works pretty great in Florida and could see works pretty miserably in Pennsylvania.  It was green for three months out of the year and promptly turned a sad brownish-yellow for the rest of the year.  Apparently a traveling salesman had come through selling a miracle grass and if you look around our town you can see who was duped by their sad, sad lawns.

Being that I’m anti-herbicide, we had to peel that zoysia grass right off with a skid loader; scalped the whole front yard.  The neighbors had a good laugh when I planted two unpromising-looking sticks in the dirt.  Now those elderberries are about fifteen feet high.  Grapes stretch across a trellis beside them, a white nectarine tree just beyond the strawberry patch.  Artichokes mingle with mints, rhubarb with the roses.

Tonight found me popping off chamomile flowers and filling a small glass jar with them.  Every diaper cream had failed poor Henrik’s irritated bottom, and the chamomile that I’d raised from seed over winter was finally ready to harvest.  My bees darted past as I worked and bugs crawled over my feet on their way to somewhere.

In the kitchen I poured olive oil over the flower heads and set it aside.  The chamomile oil wouldn’t be ready for another two weeks, but I was glad to have it started.  Some backyard medicine is fast, some slow.  Comfrey is fast; so fast indeed that if you chew a leaf up and apply it to an open wound, you’d better be sure there’s no debris inside, because it will heal shut right on top of it quickly.  Onions are fast.  As soon as a child complains of ear pain I reach for an onion.  Cutting it from roots to tip, I remove the innermost part, which is the perfect size for inserting into the ear canal without risk of it slipping in altogether.  I heat the onion piece over a burner, nestled in a spoon until I can smell it’s aroma.  Into the offended ear it goes, topped by a damp warm washcloth and a heating pad.  Within minutes they’re fine.

My comfrey patch healed a serious muscle tear in my back within one evening of alternating cold and hot compresses of comfrey tea.  My nerves have been soothed by drinking lemon balm tea which is aggressively trying to take over the tea/herb garden.  Mosquito bites are attended to with a chewed plantain leaf or a dollop of lavender oil.

I’m certain my “medicine cabinet” looks a lot different that most people’s.  There’s charcoal powder, essential oils of all types, homemade salves, witch hazel, glycerine, bentonite clay, a big chunk of beeswax.  But most of the medicine is outside, growing and contributing to the ecosystem.

Okay.  I know this won’t make you put away your herbicide/insecticide, nor will it make you forsake Neosporin and Tylenol and such.  Most of you are probably quite happy buying pharmaceuticals at Kmart and keeping your lawn pristinely uniform with neonicotinoids (present in aforementioned sprays, which happen to kill honeybees and other pollinators who are absolutely essential to our very way of life…don’t you like peaches and apples after all?).  Anywho, I realize my lifestyle holds as much appeal to some as eating a shoe.  That said, maybe this could inspire just a few nutty types to see weeds in a new light, to see in the rattiness a bit of healing, to see in the perfection a bit of toxicity?  Maybe?

No?  I need some lemon balm tea…