Eggshell Tea Plant Fertilizer 

Every day that I check on my small container garden I think to myself that I should really get some fertilizer. That with the size of the container combined with the amount of vegetable plants I packed in (I honestly didn’t expect them all to survive the deer and our sudden weather changes) that it would be really helpful to my plant babies. I opened my herb cupboard for something completely unrelated and realized I had jars full of washed and dried eggshells. I had kept them for other purposes mostly but some were from making fertilizer in my old home with my larger urban garden. I realized they would be perfect for fertilizer here and that I didn’t need to buy a thing! We generally only eat local eggs or organic brown eggs but I had some others from a big sale that just so happened when I needed tons of eggs for certain recipes I was making. So I pulled them out and got to work. 

Egg shells are made mostly of calcium carbonate and when steeped and tested for content showed to add calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium and phosphorus to the water. Plants NEED calcium and the other items can be beneficial as well. Saving your eggshells instead of tossing them both saves you money on fertilizers and is a great way to do a little homesteading. If you have young ones around this can be an easy chore for them to help out with. 

Here is what I currently had. I had to share our DashGo as it is a egg steaming lifesaver! I was steaming eggs for my family and excited about saving the shells. Something I shamefully have neglected to do lately. It cooks them perfectly and they peel easily hot or cold. I wish I got paid to say that. Haha! 

To make the eggshell fertilizer (commonly called eggshell tea) you will need a gallon of water and 10-20 eggshells at least. The more you add the stronger the tea will be. Be sure you are using eggshells that have been washed and left to dry fully. You can save eggshells months in advance! Even if it isn’t gardening season where you are. They don’t really go bad.

Boil the gallon of water. Use a container you won’t need for the next 24 hours. I chose my favorite used and abused pot. 

Add the eggshells! You can crush them more if you wish but it isn’t necessary. You can turn off the heat now as well. 

Leave overnight at least! 24 hours is a good amount of time. 

Strain and water your plants directly with the tea weekly! 

You can even add crushed shells directly to the soil. I did this as well before I got started on the tea. I’m impatient and wanted to give some love to my plant babies right away! 

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Herbal Electuaries 

I was recently inspired to make something I have not made in years. An herbal electuary! It’s basically a blend of honey (or another liquid sweetener but I have never tried them) and herbs. It’s great for bitter herbs or for those like myself who are really picky with different tastes but want the benefits of different herbs. It’s also great for kids as the sweetness of the honey can overpower the taste of the herbs you may be administering. Such as during flu season when you want your wee ones to have a extra boost of vitamins and proactive ingredients to ward it fight sickness. Be aware children before 1 should not be given honey. 

Before I begin let me say that you should never ignore medical help in my opinion. The news reports I see of children dying because their parents used tea or something of that nature instead of medical help break my heart. Herbs are a great way to live a healthy life but some things are too serious to be ignored as I see it. Also, be aware herbs can interfere with medications and react differently with each persons body chemistry. The properties of herbs will also change depending on how they are prepared! Consulting a certified herbalist or a doctor with holistic healing knowledge is encouraged before ingesting various herbs regularly. Especially, if you are contemplating giving them to children and teens. 

There are some that say honey never goes bad. That its chemical makeup gives it an extremely stable shelf life and a long one at that. Dried herbs also tend to last quite a while. Though there are those like myself who believe they start to very slowly lose a bit of their goodness as time goes on as soon as they have been harvested. The honey helps to lengthen their life in a sense. Honey is also known to be an antibacterial and anti-fungal. 

To make an electuary gather your herb of choice or herbal blend. I am using a pregnancy tea of my own creation here. 

I suggest grinding the herbs into a powder first. You can use a mortar and pestle, blender, coffee grinder, etc. I used a coffee grinder to speed it up.

Blend the powdered herbs with honey. Local raw honey is best! There are also types of quality raw honeys on the market that are popular with those who use holistic medicine. 

You can use as little or as much as you would like. Anything from a syrup to just enough honey to make a really thick paste.

I chose to make mine a little syrupy. I plan on using a teaspoonful in hot water for a tea. You can eat it directly but when I’m pregnant it’s hard to consume certain textures easily so I am going the tea route. Some people even create lozenges with their blends to take directly and raw! 

Make sure to store in an air tight container. I made very little this time around as I plan to make a few different blends with the honey I have. 

A spoonful of the electuary a day is what is typically suggested. If you’re using it to fight sickness, promote sleep, help with nerves, etc more can be taken. Just be sure to study up on the herbs you are using. Electuaries can be taken immediately! 

Electuaries can also be used for ritual purposes. To ingest SAFE and EDIBLE sacred herbs before an undertaking. Of course this is just an idea and I am not responsible for anyone taking this for their own use. 

Strawberry Cake Filling

I made this surprisingly quick and easy filling for my Midsummer cake! I had a few people ask for the recipe so here it is! 

You will need:

*2 1/2 cups cut up Strawberries 

*1 cup water

*3/4 cups sugar

*3 teaspoons cornstarch 

Mix cornstarch and water together on medium heat.

Once the mixture is fully blended add the strawberries.

Then add the sugar. I added a tablespoon of raw local honey to boost the sweetness and flavor but it isn’t needed unless you like a sweeter filling. 

Mix the ingredients well on medium heat. I took a masher lightly to the strawberries but it isn’t needed. 

Cook for about 10 minutes while stirring continuously. 

After it is done cooking allow to cool completely before using as a filling! Enjoy! 

Midsummer 2016

I joked a few days ago that when you’re a single person celebrating a holy day it seems to be a lot easier to do what you planned. Even last minute. Even with no plan. To have funds for supplies for cooking or craft making, to follow a schedule or ritual of sorts, etc. That in comparison being a parent with a family and a child/children can be a lot more difficult. That you can plan all you want but inevitably you’ll probably end up with pizza delivered as your family feast. With a mumbled: “Sorry. It’s pizza again.” When you’re setting out the first serving as an offering. That half your crafts may be unfinished and you’ll be cleaning your sacred space up right before it’s time to use it instead of preparing it ahead of time. Luckily, we fared well for Midsummer this year.

My daughter woke me up with a soft “hai” about an inch from my face before she bounced down into my arm and snuggled her face against me. My husband was downstairs and came upstairs to greet us with a “Happy Solstice!” after hearing us get up. Soon after we ventured downstairs and my husband lured me into the kitchen to show me a nice clean table (such a rarity) and a piece foxglove he collected for me. He knows how much I love them and how sad I was they were all at the end of their lives by Midsummer. He found one with a few blooms left for me. Then he revealed he had actually collected everything. Top to root. That it was waiting for me in the garage. I was so happy! I had only harvested a root from this plant once before. He said: “I wonder what the neighbors think of me going for a run and coming back with a 5 foot plant.” Haha! As if they are not somewhat used to it. After that we listened to Swedish Midsummer music and watched videos on traditional celebrations before moving onto more child friendly songs for our toddler. AKA more upbeat songs with funny words that she laughs at without knowing what they mean. Accompanied by lots of silly dancing of course. Eventually, my husband made us his amazing waffles stuffed with goodies for a special breakfast and we sat together and enjoyed that. 

Throughout the day we cleaned and talked and enjoyed ourselves. My husband had opened up the house in the early hours of the morning so our home smelled like the sweet dampness of the dewy flora around our home mixed with the invigorating scent of various pine and Western Red Cedar from the forest behind our home. We burned candles and incense as the day grew slowly warmer. Lately, the sun has not made much of an appearance until the afternoon when it fights it’s way through the clouds. 

Other things we did were putting on brightly colored clothes (mostly) and then we went for a walk to collect wildflowers.

Checked on our small but thriving vegetable garden. 

Transplanted a Fern to a pot I painted with the rune “Sowilo” on it (and added a Lemurian Seed Quartz to the soil). 

Baked honey and strawberry cake with strawberry filling and cream cheese frosting. 

And honey and milk bread (with half coconut flour). 

Later, we played with friends outside and shared cake with them. 

Our “feast” wasn’t anything amazing as our day had been full of celebrating and merrymaking. We also were on our second day of celebrations! So cuddles with our daughter were called for to end the second day. 

The day period we had attended a local Midsummer event. We are lucky to live in an area with a part of the county that has a large Scandinavian population. There are many “Viking themed” shops and a local chapter of the “Sons of Norway” that holds regular classes, meetings and events that appeal to us. This year we were able to make one of their Midsummer events (last year we moved to the area a month late). 

We showed up to watch them decorate their midsommarstång (also called a majstång among other names) or “Midsummer Pole.” with local flora the club had collected. Once finished the children and teens from the club led a procession through the city to bring more people to watch the pole rise. Once gathered it took some time to raise the pole but it was fun to watch. Traditional Midsummer songs (in Swedish) were sung and dancing occurred. It was a ton of fun and I can’t wait to attend again next year! 

Cherry Pie and Crust Recipe Using Canned/Jarred Cherries

Some time ago my husband purchased a jar of Hungarian sour cherries. I kept promising to make a pie with it but never got to it. Today, I finally did! I mixed it with two cans of Oregon tart cherries for a yummy blend. 

To make the crust you will need: 

*3 cups flour

*1.5 cups of butter OR 1 cup shortening and half a cup of butter. I used all butter. 

*5 tbs warm water 

*1 tbs vinegar

*1 tsp baking powder

*1 egg

Mix all the ingredients well! I used melted butter so I added everything together then added the butter. Slightly still chilled butter is ideal but you can use melted and chill the mixture while you prepare the filling. 

To make the pie filling you will need:

*48 oz of canned or jarred cherries (appx)

*3-5 tbs sugar (depends on how sweet you want your filling)

*3 tbs cornstarch

*1 tsp lemon juice

*1 tsp vanilla extract 

*1/2 tsp salt

Strain cherries and save 3/4 cup of juice. 

Mix all ingredients including saved juice together. 

Heat on low for approximately 5 minutes while stirring constantly. 

Let cool while preparing the crust. Preheat oven to 425 F.

Roll out dough into two round sheets. One will be used to fill the pie container and the other will be used for the lattice work. 

Place crust in container and trim off excess. Add pie filling. Ours was left to chill a little too long and was a bit hard to work with. My husband worked the crust so he had the idea that it didn’t matter what it looked like as it was still going to be delicious. 

Cut the remaining crust into strips. Use egg whites to bind the crusts together when layering if desired. We simply pressed them together. 

My husband literally gave no f*cks concerning the appearance of this pie as he was eager to get it baked and consumed. So the following photos might not be the prettiest. Haha! 

Bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Lower temperature to 375 F and bake until crust is golden and the filling is bubbling. Approximately 1 hour. If the crust is darkening too quickly you can cover it with tin foil. 

When finished put onto a cooling rack until cooled completely. Enjoy! 

Homesteading Herbalism – Mugwort 

Home grown mugwort! We have several jars from different parts of the plants that were harvested at different times back home. I wanted to write a really quick blog on mugwort to share! These are some bare bones to get you started. 

Mugwort is a prominent herb in Urglaawe and Braucherei. The American Heathen practices that originated in Germanic Europe. It’s a family favorite here and sacred to my goddess Frau Holda. Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is one of the 9 Sacred Herbs to the Anglo-Saxon people. It is mentioned in “The Lacnunga” that was written after the Christianization of the area but still gave insight into the popular practices of the populaces who tended to hold on to some of their Pagan rituals. The 9 Sacred Herbs are said by some to refer to the world tree Yggdrasil while some texts say these correspond to the 9 different illnesses. In either case the herbs were used by Odin (or Woden to the Anglo-Saxon’s) to defeat the serpent which was a symbol of death and suffering. Mugwort was used by the Anglo-Saxon’s not only to flavor their brews but to also protect against evil and illness among other things. Today, it is commonly used in divination, dream pillows, for protection, to increase psychic powers, for healing, strength, astral projection, safe travel, spiritualism and more!

Medicinally, mugwort is used by women to help with delayed menstruation and to regulate the menstrual cycle. It is also create to stimulate the digestive system, aide gas and bloating, in calming nerves, in relaxing muscles, etc. It is a popular ingredient in some Asian goods and medicine as well. 

Making Sugar Scrubs! 

Sugar Scrubs are one of the easiest homemade body products you can make! For a very basic recipe you need a sugar of your choice, essential oils and then a carrier oil base. Clays, herbs, blends of different sugars, etc can also be added. Sugar Scrubs are great for removing dead skin naturally and for moisturizing the skin. They can also be very inexpensive to make! I am making a Lavender Sugar Scrub today! 

Lavender is not only calming but is used medicinally as an anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antidepressant, anti-fungal, anti-microbial and for detoxing to make a few things. If you’re magically inclined lavendercan be used for love, peace, happiness, to attract a lover, sleep (dreams/rest/etc), to relieve sorrow, purification, and OH so much more! It’s one of my favorites!

Getting Started! 

First off you will need a container. Glass is best in my eyes. I use jam jars as they are thick and easy to dip your fingers in to pull out the scrub. I also use the wide mouthed jars that are shorter. If you’re worried about dropping glass in the shower I would bring in a hand towel to hold it firmly. You could use plastic but it’s porous and will absorb oils as well as not keep as long. 

For sugar I used raw Tamarind sugar in this blend. There are various sugars on the market. Ranging from exotic and expensive to cheap white cooking sugar. They all work! Having a variety is nice as well as having them in different sized granules to aide in exfoliating better. I would fill up your container about 3/4 full. You need space for the oil as well as some air in case the oil starts to pool. You don’t want it to leak!

With your oil you can use olive oil or look into other types of carrier oils. My preferred base is pure sweet almond oil with added vitamin E oil to increase the shelf life. Apricot oil, jojoba, coconut oil, etc also work well. There are various kinds and wash gas its own properties in healing so I would study up first!

I used lavender infused jojoba that I made using a cold process method (aka letting it soak for weeks in a dark cool place). I prefer using herbal oils to just essential oils but you can do what you would like. I left my lavender buds in but you can strain them out if you choose this method. 

You can still add essential oils to increase the scent or essential oils alone with a plain carrier oil. Less is more. Please do in depth research into EO’s before using them! 

Mix well and package! I would leave them at least a day to “mingle” before use. Though they are ready now. To use just take a small bit at the tips of your fingers and start scrubbing away! You can do this in a bath or shower. Be aware it may make your floor slippery so please be extra careful. I am not responsible for anything that may occur. I am simply suggesting uses. 

Making Herbal Bath Salts 

I have been making bath salts for seemingly forever. If you don’t already know from reading my other blogs my family was big on crafts growing up and we still are. I even made and sold homemade bath products for many years using top quality ingredients. Here I am sharing a way to make bath salts that anyone can make fairly easily with a trip to a store or two (no promises here). No fancy salts or super expensive ingredients. 

If you want to be super simple just use Epsom salts alone. They are easy to obtain, inexpensive and can be used in a variety of ways to treat soreness, stiff muscles, in healing some skin ailments, for relaxation, headache relief, etc. They can also be used as a laxative and as an additive in gardening. It is not actually a salt but a naturally occurring compound of magnesium and sulfate. Some holistic approaches to health recommend regular Epsom salt baths to draw out toxins and such from the body. If nothing else it is a nice addition to your bath or foot soak. 

I decided to make a rose bath salt as an example! Energetically speaking (if that’s your thing) roses are said to be used in creating/promoting love, increasing psychic powers, healing of all kinds, luck, protection, sexual attraction, boosting confidence, etc. Medicinally, in the way it is being used here it is great for softening chapped skin and helping to heal abrasions. Roses have other holistic medicinal uses but be sure to procure the right type of roses. Not all are edible or are the correct breed for use. Safest way to go is to purchase dried roses sold for tea blends. 

I bought the roses from one of our local co-ops as well as the oil I used to make my rose oil. If you don’t want to make your own herbal oil and then wait a few weeks for it to infuse you can pick up an essential oil of your choice. Please make sure to research oils before using them. I can’t tell you how many times I see people use essential oils incorrectly and potentially dangerously. Just because the bottle says it pure and ready to use doesn’t actually mean it is! 

Here is my blog on making infused oils: Cold Infused Herbal Ritual/Perfume Oil | The Heathen Homesteader

https://theheathenhomesteader.wordpress.com/2016/03/15/cold-infused-herbal-ritualperfume-oil/

I started with grinding my roses in one of my mortar and pestles. I lightly ground some for more aesthetic purposes then took the rest and pulverized them. You will have to test how much of the herb you are using works for you. Be sure to use skin safe ingredients and be aware of how they can effect you if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication or have a medical condition. I am not responsible for how something effects you. I’m just giving potential suggestions for use! 

To add a bit of color I added a powder I have had for a while. This isn’t needed. If you want color many craft stores carry skin safe color additives in their soap making section. You can also create your own color using natural ingredients. 

Then I mixed in baking soda to use as a skin softener. I used two teaspoons as I am making a batch big enough for two jars. 

Then add Epsom salt! So easy right? I filled my jars with a little over half Epsom salt to get an idea of how big I should make my batch. Some people will add sea salt or even table salt along with this but you don’t *need* to. 

Mix well before adding your oil. 

If you are using essential oils you only need a few drops depending on the size of the batch you are creating. My oil is jojoba infused with roses and isn’t as potent or pure so I put in quite a bit.

Let dry a few hours before packaging or use right away! Some people prefer to use a muslin tea bag to keep the herbs contained. 

To up your bath salt game you can add natural borax (not commercial store bought stuff), exotic salts, clays, top shelf oils, etc to your blend. Many natural food and holistic type stores will have a variety of ingredients for you to try. 

Simple Sourdough Baguette Recipe

After weeks of feeling drained and unwell I have been finally bursting with food making energy! First up is a sourdough baguette! A really simple one at that! This recipe makes one baguette unless you want to rip the dough in half and make two smaller loaves for dips or small appetizers. I did both to show the difference. I also left the larger loaf to sour for about 18 hours compared to the 6 I left the two smaller loaves. This resulted in a loaf that had spread out and risen more in the case of the single loaf. Both were fairly dense but soft and delicious with thick chewy crusts. There are other recipes for an airy bread that I will share at another time. 

You will need: 

*2 cups flour

*1/2 cup sourdough starter

*1/2 warm (not hot) water

*1/2 tsp salt 

Mix all the ingredients together! No waiting to let the yeast rise. Super simple! 

Drop onto a floured surface to knead. The dough is slightly dry and cracks easily. Don’t worry about it. You only need to work it for a few minutes. 

Roll into a ball! Or two if you want smaller loaves. 

Roll ball into a log shape. If it’s cracking too much for you get a small bowl of warm water and dip your fingers in to help smooth cracks. 

Once you are satisfied with the shape you can cut indentations in if you would like for aesthetic appeal. 

Grease a baking sheet and sit your bread on it for 3-6 hours at least. The longer it sits the more it may rise but the more sour it will get as well. 

Preheat the oven to 425 F when ready to bake! I brushed my larger loaf with oil to help the crust darken better. The smaller loaves I brushed with salted butter about 10 minutes in. You don’t need to do either but it helps the color and in the case of the butter it adds flavor. 

Bake for 15 minutes or so. Without oil or butter it will be a very light tan but adding other things to the crust will result in a golden brown. 

You can serve immediately or let sit until the next day to rewarm and serve. Great for dipping into sauces, stews and soups or to cut into slices for appetizers! 

My daughter couldn’t wait for it too cool enough. Haha! She loves homemade bread so much.