It’s garlic time! Time to plant garlic, that is. To get you motivated for getting those hands dirty, here are some of the wonders of garlic that make it a MUST in any garden, even an ornamental garden!

Garlic, how do i love thee? I love thee very much! I’ve heard friends recently say “that recipe calls for 4 cloves of garlic, and that’s just too much!” NEVER! NEVER TOO MUCH! I may be sweating garlic from my pores and panting from the mouth, but there’s never too much garlic for me!

According to nutritiondata.com:

This food is very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Calcium, Phosphorus and Selenium, and a very good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and Manganese.

Caloriecount.com agrees and neither website can say ANYTHING bad about garlic at all:

Like onions, i put garlic in just about everything i cook. It adds flavor, spice, and when roasted a real decadent creamy element. I usually put at least 3 cloves garlic in everything. Vitamin C, Calcium, and Iron are all things my body needs a lot of, especially since i don’t eat a lot of citrus, dairy, or red meat. I planted as much garlic as i could fit into my gardens this year, but am still disatisfied with the yield. So far i’ve only been able to harvest the whips, or immature garlic that you eat more like a scallion. But their leaves are browning and the bulbs are finally expanding a bit, so i think in about a month or so i’ll be harvesting and setting out to cure and then braid for storage. Store garlic in a cool, dry place: which doesn’t exist in my house. But i use it up so fast, it generally doesn’t have time to rot. You can’t store garlic in the ground like onions, it will rot if you’re not diligent.
These are last year’s garlic braids. Hard necks don’t like to be braided. This year’s are much prettier. I’ll have to take some photos soon.

Some garlic growing/cooking facts:

  • Each green leaf you see above ground equals a ‘paper’ on the clove and eventually a bulb. Wait for the leaves to brown, but not completely or you risk rotting. Check below the soil a few times until you see a nice plump bulb, harvest one and assess the situation. you want the papers to be pretty developed to protect each clove.
  • Garlic gets meaner with more abuse: if you put garlic cloves through a garlic press or bash to a smoosh with a knife, the garlic will be spicier. For milder tasting garlic, only tap the clove to remove the paper, then dice carefully.
  • The greens are edible when the plant is young.
  • The scapes and flowers of garlic are very tasty, almost like oniony broccoli. Saute and enjoy!

Ever since I heard that “Oil of Olay” may use animal testing, i decided to stop using store bought facial cream. Luckily, at about the same time i discovered Rosemary Gladstar’s recipe for natural lotion. I then adapted that recipe to  create the lotion my customers know and love:  Everywhere Cream. I love Everywhere Cream, but i also like to use a beauty serum just before bed that is concentrated of pure oil and essential oil, without the water and beeswax that makes E.C. so great for daily wear. You can make the same serum easily, and can substitute your favorite essential oils, depending on your skin’s needs.

Simple Beauty Serum

  • 1 part jojoba or sweet almond oil
  • 3 parts hempseed oil
  • several drops essential oil of your choice (peppermint, lavender, patchouli, helichrysum)
  • several drops calendula oil (oil infused with calendula petals)

Jojoba closely matches our skin’s natural oils, which makes it the perfect choice for a facial moisturizer. It also has a very long shelf life, which makes it a great choice for a “a little goes a long way” type beauty product. You’ll have this serum on your shelf for a long time, and you don’t want it to spoil. Unfortunately, jojoba is becoming endangered/ near extinct, so i try to limit my use of this precious oil. Sweet Almond oil is also very gentle and non-irritating to facial skin. It is much less “oily” than thicker oils like olive and shouldn’t cause breakouts. Hempseed oil is my favorite oil for mature or sensitive skin. It helps to smoothe out wrinkles and scars, and is great for all skin types.  I choose peppermint and lemongrass essential oils: peppermint is good for puffy skin and lemongrass is great for reducing pores. Don’t use too much of either  though, as both are a bit volatile and can sting.

I also like to add a few drops of calendula oil that i purchase from Herb Pharm. You could also infuse your own, but i like to purchase theirs and not risk getting my oil moldy from petals that may not be dry enough. Combine all ingredients in a small vial and massage a few drops into your face before bed every night, focusing on your ‘trouble spots.’ I think you’ll notice happier (and less wrinkley) looking skin within several weeks!

Do you moisturize your face before bed? What do you use?

Are you signed up for our newsletter? Don’t miss out on special discounts, Nude Soap news and great DIY tips. This month’s newsletter is all about keeping cool during these late Summer months.

Grab the cucumbers and your swimming trunks! Subscribe to our newsletter!

With the Summer heat at its hottest, i thought i’d rekindle an old series of mind: wholesome wednesdays and start with one of the coolest veggies i know: cucumbers! Cucumbers might be one of my favorite things to snack on, and are definitely one of my favorite veggies to grow. They can be a little finicky – you have to keep them well watered, always a bit moist, and up off the hot ground. But if you treat ’em right, they are top producers of tasty, portable, summery veg. I can get a bit tired of cucumbers by the end of the season, cuz really = what can you really do with cucumbers other than snacking on them or adding them to salads?? A lot of things actually, these are some of the dishes/preparations i make with my cukes:

  • Cucumber salad – cucumbers, balsalmic, olive oil, seasonings, and any other veggies you might want to throw in
  • Tzaziki sauce – cucumbers with yogurt and seasonings
  • Pickles, vinegar or fermented
  • Cucumber buttermilk soup
  • Cucumber tea sandwiches with cream cheese
  • Gazpacho soup
  • Cucumber water for hydration and weight loss (just drop some sliced cukes in your water pitcher!)

One of my favorite cucumber snacks is actually as simple as slicing up the cuke, plating it, sprinkling on some salt, then drizzling all the slices with Sriracha sauce. Mmmmmmmmmm.

So, what’s the big deal about cucumbers? They’re not only edible: you see them listed in various beauty products and cleansers. Cucumbers are great diet foods: you can pile up a plate of cucumber slices and eat to your heart’s content with zero guilt: they’re 95% water! This website has some great information and recipes for cucumbers. Cukes are as good for the skin as they are on our tastebuds.

The World’s Healthiest Foods website has some great things to say (as always) about our cucumber friends:

The flesh of cucumbers is primarily composed of water but also contains ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and caffeic acid, both of which help soothe skin irritations and reduce swelling. Cucumbers’hard skin is rich in fiber and contains a variety of beneficial minerals including silica, potassium and magnesium.

Cucumbers are a very good source of the vitamins C and the mineral molybdenum. They are also a good source of vitamin A, potassium, manganese, folate, dietary fiber and magnesium and contain the important mineral silica.

The silica in cucumber is an essential component of healthy connective tissue, which includes muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and bone. Cucumber juice is often recommended as a source of silica to improve the complexion and health of the skin, plus cucumber’s high water content makes it naturally hydrating—a must for glowing skin. Cucumbers are also used topically for various types of skin problems, including swelling under the eyes and sunburn.          -WHFoods.com

Cucumbers are a great source of fiber, can help reduce blood pressure, and are good for the skin – so why aren’t you eating a cucumber right now???  Here’s the nutritional breakdown:

I’m headed to the farmer’s market now to load up on cucumbers! What is your favorite thing to do with your cucumbers?

Foraging doesn’t have to be in the woods or even in a wild place… one can find GREAT foraging in your own driveway or along a neighbor’s fence. (Be sure it’s a friendly neighbor, or that the produce you’re foraging is, in fact, not being harvested by them).

Earlier this Spring my husband came in all excited that he had discovered a cherry tree tucked along a fence between our apartment complex and a neighbor’s house. I watched the fruit as it developed through the Summer and picked the first one the other day. They’re dark red fruits, the size of a very LARGE cherry and are not tart but not too sweet either. They taste more like: plums! But is that what they are? Here are some photos of the fruit and foliage. I’d love to pick a whole mess of these guys and make some honey sweetened jam or compote…. but it might be nice to know what fruit i’m actually dealing with!

What’s your vote: Cherry? Plum? Something else?

Today’s post is a very important message to all the skin-parents out there. A friend of mine recently sent me an email warning me about using essential oils on my dog, Pocket. As i posted recently, i have blended an essential oil mixture to use on Pocket to prevent fleas, ticks and mosquitos without relying on those nasty chemical treatments. I’ve been using it with good success, as an occasional neck drip but mostly as a “rub it around on her belly and tail feathers” barrier when we go hiking. She’s had no problems, but i was also careful to dilute the essential oils i used with a lot of jojoba oil. It’s very important to remember that essential oils must ALWAYS be diluted before use, for humans and pets alike. There are a few exceptions that can be used undiluted on occasion, but as a general rule you should water down your essential oils in oil, vodka or witch hazel.
In my friend’s case, she was using a brand name treatment that is available in stores and across the internet. Please read her warning below and weigh your options carefully when choosing a flea treatment for your pet:
Be very, very careful when using essential oils on Pocket. I honestly wouldn’t recommended it at all.
I used Sentry brand “Natural Defense Flea & Tick” squeeze-on treatment, as well as the same name carpet powder. The ingredients are peppermint oil, cinnamon oil, lemon grass oil, clove oil and thyme oil.
Within one day of treating Tres, he was having severe difficulty breathing. I wondered if it was the flea treatment, but thought that it would be strange if any of those ingredients caused him harm, as I thought they were safe (which is why I used it, as opposed to a chemical treatment). Well, three vets and four days later, we finally found a vet who had seen this before and read studies on it and, yes, essential oils can be toxic to dogs and cats. Their bodies metabolize them differently than ours. Tres’ rapid breathing was caused by his body being so acidic that it was toxic from the oils. His body was trying to get lots of oxygen to help his liver and kidneys eliminate the toxins. It has been nine days and his breathing is still not quite normal. But it is better. He wouldn’t eat, he could barely walk and he sounded like he was hyperventilating. It was HORRIBLE. I would just lay in his kennel with him and sob. The vet said we are lucky that he is still alive.
The only thing we could do to treat him was wash him with dish washing detergent (4x) make sure he had plenty of clean water, high quality protein (he would barely eat though) and lots of rest. And 12 mg of Benadryl twice daily. We go to the vet next week to do blood work to see if there has been any permanent organ damage. We’re hoping and praying that there isn’t any.
I’ve called the company and they refuse to acknowledge that their product could have done this. I find that interesting, considering that I found 200 complaints about their products killing/harming dogs and cats at the Consumer Affairs website and there is a Facebook page of people with similar experiences who are gathering up in order to file a class action lawsuit against the company.
It is going to cost $400 to get our area rugs cleaned (I used the powder on them) and we’ve incurred a few hundred dollars in vet bills so far. Sentry says that they will do an investigation and “possibly” refund us for costs incurred.
PLEASE pass the word on to all of your friends and family with beloved cats and dogs. Products with essential oils are even more harmful to cats, as they clean themselves and ingest them. The best flea treatment to use is Frontline Plus.
Josh made up a new slogan for Sentry: “Works so well it kills your pet, too!” 😦
Scary stuff! Please be careful when using any medication on yourself or your pets, natural or chemical. Also avoid clove oil like the plague: it is intensely volatile and dangerous even to humans if undiluted. Use it on your gums, carefully, but keep it away from the pups! Prevention is always the best policy: plant flea and mosquito preventing plants in your landscaping like pennyroyal and catmint, brush and pick over your pet often to see if fleas are even a problem and always be careful when using a new product on your pets as they may respond differently than you’d expect. I like to mix a carpet powder for home use that should be safe for everyone involved: a blend of 60% baking soda and 40% diatomaceous earth plus a few drops of essential oils for the scent. The b.s. freshens the house and the d.e. helps kill unwanted pests. I’ve also heard from a reader that you can shake salt all over your house and let it sit for a day before vacuuming…. that sounds a little messy but very safe.
Be careful out there, everybody! -Miranda & Pocket

Summer came a bit late here in Philomath, but the fleas are out, the dogs are itching and it’s time to unveil our newest product: Sham-pooch!

This gentle blend of vegetable oils is great for most dogs’ skin and fur and has been infused and scented with essential oils and herbs chosen for their flea, tick and mosquito repelling attributes. I didn’t use ground oats i this recipe, but may be adding some to my next batch for doggies with especially sensitive skin. This shampoo has lots of lather, which makes sudsing up your dog easy (relatively) and by skipping the bottle you’ll no longer be terrifying your dog by wielding a foreign object near its face while you struggle to balance and get him wet and sudsy without drenching yourself. I can’t wait to have outside space again or perhaps a utility sink – for now my shower will have to do and a water proof apron is not to be underestimated. This soap ISN’T overly moisturizing, so your hands may dry out a bit after washing Fido. Be sure and follow with a moisturizer and observe your dog to be sure this blend isn’t too drying for their skin.

Before (dirty and itchy)…  During (not stoked)…  After (Clean! Happy!)

Rubbing your dog with this citrusy smelling bar of soap is pleasant for dog and person alike. You’ll love the smell and how easy the soap lathers up. Your dog will probably wish they still smell like ‘funk’ but will be happy to have clean and shiny fur. I’ve chosen several essential oils that repel ticks and fleas, but please continue to check your dog for marauders and consider treating them with a natural flea preventative before you take a hike in the dry grass.  Peppermint, lemongrass, cedarwood and citronella are all powerful oils that leave this soap fairly heavily scented. I’ve also infused the olive oil used in this soap with pennyroyal, an important herb for repelling fleas. If you’re not already growing pennyroyal, consider adding it to your living space. Having pennyroyal growing in areas where your pets roam is an excellent strategy for keeping fleas at bay, especially if your dogs or cats enjoy rolling in the soft foliage. Catmint is another excellent repelling herb, especially effective on mosquitos. Note: both are fairly invasive plants, so don’t plant in your veggie garden! I have plans for a walk way with stepping stones and climbing thyme, chamomile and pennyroyal: lovely and useful!

Pocket says: hurry and get your own bar of Sham-pooch before they’re all gone! As usual, this soap was made in a small batch (only 17 bars!) so get yours before they’re gone. I will make another batch of Sham-pooch to be ready in a month and a half or so, at which point i’ll be deciding if this blend will be Summer seasonal only, or part of my regular cast. Be sure you sign up for our monthly newsletter so that you stay in the loop on ALL our seasonal products. 🙂

What say you, should Sham-pooch be available all year or as a Summer special?? Leave me a comment with your answer!

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