Calendula Tincture

I have always had an interest in herbalism. Over the years I have made healing foods and drinks, natural bath/body and home products, blends for various uses, etc from store bought, Wild harvested and home grown goods. My husband says plants are my thing (his are crystals/stones/minerals). I tend to focus on certain skills and crafts for extended periods of time and recently pulled out of a crochet mania to study and “play” again. A really great herbal magazine and family herbalism course came into my life at the same time my mind started to wander back and I took it as a sign. 

One of the first things I did was start making tinctures. Inspired by the course I started first with vanilla extract. I want that to brew for a longer period than the minimum suggested so instead I am turning to what I started next for my first blog on the subject. A calendula tincture. 

I have various skin issues that have been with me for much of my life. It’s a combination of genetics, diet and potentially other issues such as inflammation. I looked into breastfeeding safe herbs I could ingest as part of a regime to heal myself and calendula came up as an option. I had just enough for a small batch and got towork! 

Some uses of calendula can be found here: https://www.google.com/amp/s/draxe.com/calendula/amp/

I took my dried calendula I put in my tea and crushed it a bit in one of my mortar and pestles. 

It came out to just over 1/2 cup not being pressed down or fully powdered. I considered it half a cup. 

I then added a full cup of 100 proof vodka (80+ is best though some say 90+ proof). For this particular plant it was suggested to do a 1:2 ratio. Others may be different so look into different information on plants if you plan to make a tincture. Some dried herbs suggest adding distilled water but for this I decided not to. 

I put the ingredients in a jar and stored in my herb cupboard. It is preferred not to have air space like mine but it wouldn’t fit into any other jars I had so I took a chance. It turned out fine. I probably wouldn’t risk it again however. 

I shook it every day for the period I had it brewing. Then I let it sit undisturbed 24 hours before straining. The minimum suggested is 2 weeks of shaking plus 1 day of rest. I left mine for almost a month and strained right before the New Moon. I may be a Heathen but I have a witchy side as well. The longer the better is a general rule for tinctures. 

Once done I strained it in a plastic strainer. I have seen suggestions not to use any metal so I take that advice. 

The herbs really soak up a lot so I would pressed it out well, let it rest then go at it again. 


My funnels have not yet arrived so I placed the amber glass bottle in a bowl to catch any of the tincture that might spill and used a measuring cup to pour. 

I put the tincture in several smaller bottles (2oz) but any size or amount works. I bought mine off of Amazon but usually buy locally despite the large price difference. 

Label with the name and date bottled! My handwriting is awful. I use tape to stick paper on mine but you can get fancy with special labels! 

Tinctures last several years if stored properly. I’ll be adding a few drops a day to coffee or tea daily. Starting off small and building up to more drops as this is a new-to-me tincture. You can take directly on the tongue or add to food or drink like I do. 

Be sure to look out for future tincture and herbalism blogs! I’m only an aspiring herbalist so please do your own research!

Banana Oat “Cookies” Two Ways 

When our bananas get a bit overripe I almost always use them to make banana bread. Today, I decided to put them to use in “cookies” instead. Based on a recipe for diabetic cooking that consisted of only three ingredients. They are less friendly now but great for people with certain allergies. 

I had four bananas and the cookie recipe I have asks for two. So I made two different batches! One of course inspired by banana bread. Both have the same handling and baking instructions though which makes it easy! 

Cookie One – Banana Bread Inspired
You will need:

*2 ripe bananas (the riper they are the sweeter they are)

*1/2 steel cut oats 

*1/2 cup crushed walnuts

*1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

*1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Cookie Two – Double Chocolate
You will need:

*2 ripe bananas

*1/2 cup steel cut oats

*1 tablespoon Dutch cacao powder

*1/3 cup (or 1/2 if you’d like) chocolate chips

*1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

This recipe shows instructions per batch:

Wash hands thoroughly. 

Peel and break apart the bananas. 

Add oats to bananas and mush together as much as you can. 

At this point depending on what batch you are making add the rest of the ingredients and stir well. 

Bananas Bread:


Chocolate:







Cover or alternatively place in Tupperware or a jar and store in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours. Many recipes suggest baking immediately but the oats taste too hard to me when I do that. So I let them sit. Overnight is best. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a cooking sheet with grease/oil/butter/nonstick tin foil.

Take out and use a tablespoon to scoop out individual bits that you will form into cookies. I used a mini ice cream scooper and set them 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet. 

Bake for 10 minutes before taking them out to press down gently with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake for another 5 minutes.

Let sit on sheet for 5 minutes then move to a cooling rack. If you do it earlier they will likely break apart.

Enjoy when cool! 

Natural Bug Repellent 

In a group I help run I posted about a natural bug (and arachnid) repellent I was making for our porch and patio today. It was essentially half my essential oils and a stick of cinnamon I soaked in a half and half vinegar/water mix. There are many different oils and herbs one could procure to help ward off a variety of bugs without chemicals. 

Some of these include:

*Lavender

*Citronella

*Lemongrass

*Tea Tree

*Eucalyptus

*Mint (any kind)

*Marigold

*Geranium

*Cedarwood

*Rosemary

*Citrus – Lemon, Lime, Orange, Grapefruit, etc. 

*Cinnamon

*etc. 

I usually do a mix of what I have on hand to ward off different types of bugs but if you have a specific pest you can easily find specific herb/s for them.

After I have made my repellent I either add a cup to a gallon of water and wash the porch with it or I put it in a spray bottle and spray around door and window frames, etc. I would avoid getting this near your plants. If you have children or animals I would spray where they can’t lick or touch it and/or use only safe ingredients that won’t harm them if accidentally consumed.

If I’m making something for the skin I use half witch hazel instead of vinegar and put it in a spray bottle. Be careful not to spray too close to clothing as it can stain. Spraying on shoes or socks before a hike is helpful. 

Alternatively, you can add a 2% dilution of these oils to body lotion and do a rest patch to make sure you are not allergic. Please look into the properties of the oils before attempting this. I am just giving suggestions as a place to start researching. 

Here is a basic bug repellent I used to make: 
Witch Hazel soaked in fresh Geranium and Marigold (then strained!), Spring Water, Essential Oils of Lavender, Peppermint, Lemongrass, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree and Citronella. 

I don’t have the exact amounts as I do things as I go without recipes half the time. I would still make a 2% dilution of the oils. The herbs should be soaked 1-2 weeks. Dried works as well. 

I hope this proves helpful in the warm months ahead! 

Cheesy Potato Bread Rolls

I love potatoes. When people say “bread is life” I think: “right after potatoes.” When combining the two I feel as if I am creating pure joy. In this blog post I’m sharing one of my versions of potato bread but I’m making it into rolls then adding a bit of cheese to the mix. Because cheese too is life. Unless you’re lactose intolerant and also gluten intolerant. Then maybe not.

I was very surprised I had not posted a blog about potato bread yet as I make it fairly often. Growing up one of my favorite sandwich breads from the regular grocery store was (is) potato. Homemade potato bread isn’t quite the same unless perhaps you are using potato flakes (instant mashed potatoes) or spend time breaking down potatoes into a thin liquidy purée. Even then the texture is different. I like my potato bread with some small clumps because I am a fan of the feeling. 

You can easily double this recipe but I use this as is generally due to my husband being gone frequently. So my toddler and I gobble these up over a few days span (sometimes). 

You will need:

*4 1/2-5 cups flour (1/2 cup for kneading)

*1 1/2 cups shredded cheese 

*1 cup warm milk (I used cashew in these pictures as it’s what I had)

*1/2 cup mashed up potatoes (I use red for the sweetness)

*1 stick melted butter (1/2 cup)

*2 tablespoons sugar

*2 teaspoons salt

*1 tablespoon dry active yeast

*1 egg 

I like to boil or bake potatoes for meals but generally make extra for other meals or bread. Here I had three small boiled red potatoes in my fridge. Mashed up they made half a cup. The picture shows more but I just had not smashed them into the cup fully. I mash what I have first to see if I should double the recipe or not. It depends on the amount of potatoes I have made generally. You can also use leftover prepared mashed potatoes. 

Add the yeast, sugar and milk together. Stir well and then let sit for 5 minutes. 



Add the butter, egg, half a cup (at least but hey…go crazy) of shredded cheese of your choice and salt. I also added a pinch of dill, a pinch of turmeric and a teaspoon of nutritional yeast. You definitely don’t need to add these but I like it. You could add other herbs and spices for a more complex flavor to the bread if you would like however! Rosemary is also great.

Mix by hand with a wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment of a mixer.

When fully mixed add half a cup of flour at a time up to 4 cups. 

Remove the paddle attachment (use a spoon to pull any dough off) and add the dough hook if you are using a mixer. Add another half cup regardless of hand mixing or using a mechanical mixer. 

After mixing if the dough still looks sticky you can add up to another half cup. 

When fully mixed by the mixer I still like to knead by hand. It gives me a better idea of the texture of the bread and what it may need. Use up to half a cup of flour for this. The weather, temperature in your kitchen, etc can all effect the dough. 

Place into a greased bowl and cover. Let sit 1-2 hours. Some recipes suggest placing it in the fridge for 24 hours then letting it come to room temperature and rise. I’m too impatient for this. Though I have tried it before and it doesn’t seem to make a huge difference. Do what feels right to you! Experiment! 

When the dough has risen pull apart into desired sizes. I generally don’t pay attention to numbers and just pull apart to size. Be aware they will puff up so make them a bit smaller than you would like. 

Use both hands to pinch and tuck the dough into itself to form the rolls. You can alternately just roll them into balls.


I stuffed some with extra cheese because why not?

The best way to make these rolls is to put them in a glass dish like this. Grease and add rolls with room to spare.

I also put some on our ugly old cookie sheet to show the difference in baking coming up…

Let rise 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Brush with oil or butter if desired then bake for 30 minutes. 

Remove and add cheese! Then bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted. 


With the glass dish you are able to add much more cheese. The pieces are closer together and the sides keep cheese in.

With a cookie sheet a lot of cheese falls off so you both need to add less and also watch for burning. You can stick the rolls closer together but some may still miss out.

This is what happens with the cookie sheet. Some bits were too cooked and I had to crumble them off. The upside is you’re not pulling rolls apart and leaving softness exposed.

Here they are with the glass. They are much more moist!

Let cool for 5-10 minutes or so before serving. You don’t want to burn your mouth with hot cheese! With the glass you let let the rolls sit in the container before removing. With the cookie sheet use a spatula to remove right away and set on a cooling rack. 

Enjoy! 

Homemade Bounty Bars Recipe

Most of the time when I feel like making something in the kitchen I want to make it immediately. So I go in and rummage through cabinets and the fridge to see what ingredients I have and start from there. I wanted to make something that didn’t require too much energy so I decided on a chocolate treat with minimal work involved. I decided to make Bounty bars. For those of us in the states it is like a Mounds bar. A Bounty bar is typically found in the UK and Canada but can be found in specialty shops, etc internationally. I am lucky enough to have had them and was happy to make some at home. I also didn’t have the corn syrup and marshmallows needed to create the base for Mounds or an Almond Joy so I kinda had to go this route. 

You will need:

*7 oz bag of coconut flakes

*14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk

*2 cups chocolate (I used chocolate chips but you can buy chocolate specifically made for candy)
You’ll also need wax paper and either a double broiler or a microwave for the chocolate. 
Optional: extracts for the coconut blend and sea or kosher salt for the chocolate to enhance the flavor. Though these are not used typically. 

Mix the condensed milk and coconut together. Use 1/4 cup less condensed milk for not so “milky” bars if you prefer that. 


I added 1/2 a teaspoon of almond extract but coconut or vanilla work too. They are not needed or required however. I added it for my personal tastes. 

Form into bars with your hands and set on wax paper. Freeze for 30-60 minutes. I put mine in the freezer then cleaned the house a bit. Leaving them longer doesn’t hurt them. 

Melt chocolate! Either in a microwave with a microwave safe bowl or in a double boiler. I didn’t temper mine as I had a toddler helping and forgot. You can temper yours by melting in increments before adding more chocolate and then setting the bowl or pan in cold water. Seeing as I don’t have pictures of this I would refer to a YouTube video for help if you need it. If you don’t temper it you will run into the issue of it cooling fast and making not so pretty bars. 


I used two forks to toss the bar around. Use whatever you have handy. Spoons, chopsticks, etc. I had also added raw almonds for a crunch in some pieces as you can see here.

Set to cool. Wax paper would have been best but you may get a pooling of chocolate so I went this route of using a greased cooking rack. 

Let the chocolate set for a few hours then enjoy! 

Steel Cut Oat and Honey Bread

If you have read some of my older blogs you would know we like to buy in bulk and store food in glass jars. My husband bought me the “Outlander Kitchen” (http://outlanderkitchen.com) book last year and with it a ton of oats. Then he went to sea and I had no one to cook and bake for. I was pregnant and had no appetite most of the time and even though my family loves my food I felt insecure in giving it away to others with different tastes. So I didn’t use much. I had my baby at the start of the year and decided to finally start using it up. Here is one recipe I wanted to share (not from “Outlander Kitchen” just FYI)! Steel Cut Oat and Honey bread! It’s a bit crumbly but delicious! You can easily add to it as well. Add in raisins, chocolate chips, spices such as cinnamon, etc. You can top it with a glaze, honey butter, chocolate drizzle, etc as well. I made mine “plain” to show you a good starting point. It doesn’t taste plain at all though! You can easily use this blend in muffin tins as well for individual treats. 

You will need: 

*2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

*1 cup steel cut oats (I used quick cook but both work)

*1 cup boiling water 

*1 egg

*2/3 cup milk (I used cashew)

*1/4 cup honey (at least!) 

*3 tsp baking powder

*1 tsp salt 

*1/2 stick butter (or 4 tablespoons oil of choice)

*butter, cooking spray or whatever you prefer to grease your bread pan

Take oats and add boiling water to them in a heat proof bowl. 



Let sit for an hour for quick cook or two hours for regular steel cut. 

Start to preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit as the next steps will go quickly. 

Melt butter and honey on low while stirring continuously. I used a whisk (my tiny one ran off with my toddler).

When the honey and butter are fully melted and combined add the mixture to the oats and blend together. 

In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients fully.

Add milk to the oat blend before dropping in the egg. Mix well. 


Add the wet and dry ingredients together.

Here I used my Kitchen Aide as my kid likes to watch it work) but you can mix with a spoon. Mix until just fully blended. Do not overwork it. 

Grease bread pan and pour in mixture. 

Shake gently and then slap against the counter to even out the dough and have it fill in any gaps. 

Bake for an hour on the center shelf. Some ovens may require a little more time. Use a knife to check to make sure the dough is baked through. 

Immediately take out of the pan to cool. You can top it now if you wish or don’t top it at all. I used salted butter as it brings out the flavor. 

Let cool fully then slice and enjoy! 

Candied Pumpkin Spice Nut and Seed Medley Recipe 

Every year one of my aunts sends around treats of candied nuts. I have been dreaming about tasty candied nuts and seeds so I decided to make some because I couldn’t wait. Impatient much? This is a large batch for entertaining, big families, gifting or saving to eat all by ones self. Teehee! The recipe is easily cut in half. They are spicy, sweet and salty all in one. I used almonds, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), walnuts and pecans. You can use any blend you would like or just one but or seed! It’s super easy and tasty!

You will need: 

*2 lbs of raw unsalted nuts or seeds. I used 8 ounces each of almonds (about 1.5 cups), pepitas (about 2 cups), walnuts (about 2.5 cups) and pecans (about 2 cups). It’s easier to weigh it all but if you can I gave approximates for measuring. 

*2 egg whites 

*1 cup white sugar 

*1 cup brown sugar 

*2 tablespoons water 

*1 1/2 tablespoons salt 

*1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

*1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

 

Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare two baking sheets with non-stick aluminum foil.

Measure out nuts and seeds. 

Blend nuts and seeds together. 

Measure out sugar, salt and spices. Blend well. 

Whisk egg whites and water until frothy. 

Add egg mixture to nut and seed blend. Mix with spoon or with hands.

Scoop everything into the bowl with the sugar mixture. Toss together until everything is coated evenly. 

Evenly place ingredients onto baking sheets.

Bake at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour. Stirring every ten minutes. 

Cool completely and then enjoy!

Crispy Pumpkin Seeds Recipe

Pumpkin seeds are probably my favorite thing about taking apart pumpkins. Sure, purée is amazing when you are using sugar pumpkins but making Jack O’ Lanterns and other decor you won’t be eating makes the work somewhat of an unrewarding job when cleaning them…except for the seeds! It is a long and time consuming process but so worth it! I might have cried when I burnt a batch before. Seriously. 

The other day, I cleaned out the “guts” from a sugar pumpkin destined to be purée. To start you simply need a pumpkin and to use whatever method you decide on to remove the guts. It depends on what you’re doing with your pumpkin. So we will start with the guts. 

You will need:

*Pumpkin guts! These are the stringy fibers and seeds. 

*Salt

*Oil

*Seasonings of choice. You can make salted, cinnamon sugar, cayenne, pumpkin spice, etc. Here I am making salted because they are my favorite. 

*Tools such as bowls, strainer, spoon, etc. Read the entire recipe before beginning to make sure you have everything you need! 

Pull seeds out of pumpkin fibers. Toss or compost the fibers. This is time consuming, slippery and messy so take your time. They don’t need to be perfectly clean. 

Soak seeds overnight in salted water. This is a method my mom taught me. They somehow create crispier and more flavorful seeds as well as helping prevent sticking a bit. 

Strain seeds. Rinse if you are making sweet seeds to remove salt. Most of the extra fibers should slip off of the seeds and stick to the strainer as well. Thanks salt water! 

Place in a flat container to dry. This can take several hours depending on the amount of seeds in the container, temperature in the home, etc. You can see some extra fibers here. Remove them or leave them. They don’t hurt the seeds. I wouldn’t use paper towels or a rag to help. The seeds will stick to it! Which is a PAIN to deal with later. I prefer waiting over using the oven to dry the seeds. 

Once dry cover with just enough oil to wet the seeds. I prefer to use my clean hands to massage the oil in and around. 

Add seasonings and toss the seeds. 

Roast in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes or so. Stirring halfway through. Be sure to get the seeds on the sides especially. 

Let the seeds cool completely after removing from the oven then enjoy! 

Homemade Edible Play Dough 

Yesterday was a busy day. Cooking, cleaning, baking and mommying. A friend suggested I make my toddler play dough to help keep her happy and busy when I can’t be hands on with her. I have been wanting to make play dough for some for quite a while but never got around to it. I have made it before when I was younger for my baby sister and kids I babysat over the years but it was time my little one had some too. This recipe is safe for toddlers in case they decide to eat some. It makes quite a bit too! I ended up giving half to the neighbors!

You will need: 

*2 1/2 cups flour (unsure how gluten free flours would work if you are curious)

*2 cups hot water 

*1/2 cup salt (I used Kosher)

*3 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used melted coconut) 

*1 tablespoon cream of tartar

For coloring and/or flavoring you can use 2 packages of a powdered drink such as Kool-Aid or use food coloring and either food grade “kids safe” edible essential oils or flavoring extract. For the second option I would experiment with what works for you to determine how much you need. 

Start heating up water. I used a pot on the stove top but you can use a tea kettle or a microwave. 

Mix flour, salt and cream of tartar. 

Add flavoring and oil. Mix well! 

Add food coloring to the water if you are using it. 

Pour water into flour mixture. 

Mix! Mix! Mix! 

If you need to alter the color a bit feel free to here.

You will need to mix for about 10 minutes until it becomes smooth, flexible and cool. Alternatively, you can knead it once it cools for the same amount of time. Kneading produces a better dough I have found. 

Store in an air tight container when not in use. Have fun! 

Pumpkin Spice Coffee Syrup Recipe 

While waiting impatiently for my pumpkin seeds to dry today I decided to make some pumpkin spice coffee syrup. I considered buying some but realized I had everything to make my own! Other than a nice pump container to keep it in. Which I worked around. This type may not last as long as commercial syrup but at least I know exactly what is in it and it tastes great! You can also use this thin syrup in place of regular syrup, to replace honey in Fall baking, etc. It isn’t limited to just coffee! 

Read all the instructions to make sure you have all the tools and ingredients you need before beginning!

You will need: 

*1 1/2 cup water

*1 cup brown sugar 

*1 cup granulated sugar. You can switch out sugars to suit your needs, tastes, etc. I used white sugar as I ran out of Tamarind. 

*1/3 cup pumpkin purée 

*1 tablespoon vanilla extract

*2 teaspoons cinnamon

*2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice 

Add sugars and water to a pot. Turn onto medium heat and whisk for a few minutes until the sugars fully dissolve. 

Add spices! You can use more or less than listed to suit your tastes. Whisk a bit before adding the pumpkin.

Add in pumpkin and whisk for a minute. I used homemade purée so it never really got creamy like canned purees can. 

Reduce heat to low so the concoction will not boil and then continue whisking to prevent burning. Simmer 8-10 minutes. I did ten minutes due to my homemade purée not breaking down as easily as store bought. 

Once finished immediately strain using a fine strainer or cheesecloth. This worked for me. 

It helps to do it in sections as it can clog. 

Use a spoon to scrape the bottom and help flow. 

Add vanilla extract to syrup and stir well when finished straining. You can add it before straining but I prefer this method. You can save the chunky leftover bits of purée and spices to bake with.

Place in containers! I didn’t have anything with a pump so I used this bottle. It’s actually kind of fun and makes me feel all witchy! 

The rest I added to jars. 

This should stay for about a month based on your home temperatures, etc. Adding a spoonful of honey to the mix while cooking can help preservation as well. Alternatively, you can refrigerate the mix for 3-4 months but it may come out thicker and in larger portions so be careful when pouring. Enjoy!