Elderberry Echinacea Immune Tea

Today I am excited to offer Earthwise Medicinal’s first tea blend: Elderberry Echinacea Immune Tea, now available in 4oz packages!  This tasty tea gently stimulates and supports the immune system and when steeped, turns a lovely deep-rose color.  Elderberry tea is delicious just about anytime.  This blend has a naturally sweet flavor and therefore requires no additional sweetener- making it a great choice for kids.  This tea can and should be steeped twice for added value (just pour another pot of boiling water over herbs a second time and steep for 10 minutes).  This is my go-to recipe whenever I feel slightly run down, a scratchy throat, or an oncoming cold.  Often when I use this tea in conjunction with miso soup, extra rest, raw garlic pesto, and facial steams with essential oils, I am able to fight off oncoming cold symptoms before they set in.  I hope you will enjoy this hand-crafted tea blend!

Ingredients:  elderberries, echinacea angustafolia root, orange peel, licorice root, ginger root

4oz package loose tea: $8

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and the winners of the free giveaway are………

wintermint lip balm winners:

Cheri Ross
Nicole Brackman
Tamar Helfen
Amy Mandaean
Sarah Heidling
Tova Brody

rose hydrosol mister & wintermint lip balm winners:

Maia Nechama-Rachel Campbell
Stacey Shoshana Lotwin

1 Grand Prize: 1/2 hour herbal consultation, rose hydrosol mister & wintermint lip balm winner:

Cindy Kornet!!!

To claim your prizes, please email me at earthwisemedicinals@gmail.com and send me your mailing address, or if you’re in my local area, lets set up a time for me to deliver your goodies. Congratulations to all the winners and thank you for entering the free giveaway!

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Homemade diaper-wipe solution

Do you have a baby in diapers and want to save some money, as well as do something great for the environment? Consider using cloth wipes and making your own diaper-wipe solution!  Using cloth wipes with a homemade diaper-wipe solution is considerably less expensive than buying store-bought wipes, plus it’s easy to make, and smells great!  Homemade diaper-wipe solution is also great for cleaning up sticky hands and faces 🙂

Heres what you will need:

2 Tbsp Apricot kernel oil (or alternatively, 2 Tbsp of your favorite baby oil)
1 Tbsp liquid castile soap (or alternatively, 1 Tbsp of your favorite baby wash)
3 cups water
1 small spray bottle (you can find these at any CVS)

Mix the ingredients in a jar and shake it up. Pour into a spray bottle. To use, simply spray solution onto baby’s bottom and wipe with a cloth.  Apricot kernel oil smells delicious!  You can also add 2-3 drops of essential oil of your choice to your wipe solution, as long as your baby does not have extremely sensitive skin.  It’s really easy to make your own cloth wipes for free by cutting up unwanted/stained clothing or flannel sheets, or you can buy some nifty pre-fab cloth wipes (in my home we have done both).  Either way, you can throw the used cloth wipes right into the laundry with your diapers if you are using cloth diapers, or with your dirty towels. You can also make some pre-moistened wipes and keep them in a travel bag or in an empty plastic wipe container for extra convenience when you’re on the go.

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debunking the myth of cloth diapering

When you think of cloth diapering, do images of a lot of leaking poop, or dreadful smelling mounds of dirty diapers pop into your head?  You’re not alone.  But cloth diapering has come a long way since the days of diaper pins and rubber pants.  Even still, it’s hard to debunk the myth that cloth diapering is much more difficult and simply more of a hassle than disposables.  So what are the real quantifiable differences between cloth and disposables?

First of all, if you decide to have a baby, you’re gonna be changing diapers every day, whether you choose cloth or disposables.  The difference is that with disposables, your dirty diaper goes straight into the trash can (perhaps wrapped in a not-so-environmentally-friendly plastic bag so it doesn’t stink up your house).  With cloth, that same dirty diaper goes straight into a washable diaper bag or pail, later to be tossed into your laundry machine.  Basically, one gets thrown into the trash, the other gets thrown into the laundry.  Considering that the average baby uses roughly 6,000 diapers from birth to potty-training, producing about 4,000 pounds of waste that ends up in landfills, by choosing cloth diapers you effectively prevent roughly 4000 pounds of waste from entering the landfills, per child.  Now that’s a lot of poop.

So now lets talk about the differences in cost.  If you choose cloth diapers, you are committing to a significant up-front investment in the diapers (usually in the $200-400 range depending on the brand you choose and how many you buy), as well as doing one extra load of diapers in your laundry machine per day (this might cost you something like $.50/load, adding up to about $182/year depending on how efficient your washer/dryer system is).  But the great thing is, once you have purchased cloth diapers, you’ll never run out.  Every day, you get a clean stash of “new” diapers back out of your dryer (or hang them to dry for more savings).  Compare this with disposables, which have no upfront costs, but are a constant drain on your finances.  At an average of $.29 per diaper, multiplied by the 6000 diapers most likely used before potty training, disposables will cost something like $1740, or more, per child.  That’s a lot of dough and it doesn’t include diaper wipes (more on that later).  Another cost benefit of cloth diapering is that you can reuse the same cloth diapers again for subsequent children, saving you even more the second or third time around.  So by choosing cloth diapers you will be doing more work with the laundry, but you will probably also save money, as well as avoid the hassle of frequently having to schlep out to buy more diapers.

Many parents turn to natural-fiber cloth diapers because their babies have reactions to the chemicals in disposables.  Disposable diapers contain sodium polyacrylate, a type of super absorbent polymer (SAP), which becomes a gel-like substance when wet.  A similar substance had been used in super-absorbency tampons until the early 1980s until it was revealed that the material increased the risk of toxic shock syndrome by increasing absorbency and improving the environment for the growth of toxin-producing bacteria.  Disposable diapers also contain Dioxin, a carcinogenic chemical listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals  (it is banned in most countries but not in the U.S), as well as Tributyl-tin (TBT) – a toxic pollutant known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals.  Many babies who use disposables have no clear reactions to these substances, however this information may be helpful in deciding what is right for your family.

Lastly, one big difference between cloth and disposables it the cuteness factor.  You may not be able to resist using cloth diapers once you see your baby wearing some of the hip designs that are available these days.  One of the hardest parts of the decision to use cloth diapers is choosing which design to invest in!  There are four basic types of cloth diapers, each with their own benefits.  For more information on different types of cloth diapers you can check out this site which lays out the comparisons.

On a personal note, for my family the journey to choosing cloth diapers was a process.  When we had our first child we were living in a one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn with no access to a laundry hookup.  That was a big deciding factor against cloth (although perhaps we could have found a diapering service to wash the diapers for us, but the cost seemed prohibitive at the time).  With our second child, we opted into cloth about half-way through the diapering process and loved the results, which included early potty training.  With our third child, we have totally embraced cloth as the right choice for us, and really love it!  We feel happy to be able to take a big step toward maintaining an environmentally friendly household and using products that are in line with our beliefs.

If you have any questions about cloth diapering, please feel free to leave a comment below.

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Free Giveaway: 36 hours left! Enter now to win free natural body products

ONLY 36 HOURS LEFT TO ENTER!  Earthwise Medicinals is offering a free winter giveaway from Sunday Jan 14 through Jan 27 at 12am.  Prizes include seven wintermint lip balms, three rose hydrosol misters, and one free 1/2 hour herbal phone consultation (see below for details).  To enter, you  must do the following three steps:

1) Follow my blog by clicking on the “subscribe” button on the top right corner of this page.  You must be subscribed to be entered into the giveaway! If you are already subscribed, continue on to the following steps.

2) Share this Free Giveaway blog post on Facebook.  

3) Leave a comment here on this blog to let me know that you have entered.

To get an additional entry into this free giveaway, you can follow me on Twitter here and then Tweet this blog post with the tag #earthwise.  Leave a comment below to let me know about your Twitter entry.  You can enter a third time by posting any of my other earthwisemedicinals blog posts to Facebook or Twitter, leaving a comment here to let me know about your additional entry.  Prizes will be shipped to USA addresses only.  Ten winners will be chosen at random, and the winners will be announced on Sunday Jan, 29!

Seven winners will receive a free wintermint lip balm, handmade with love.

Two 2nd place winners will receive a free lip balm, plus a blue cobalt bottle of rose hydrosol.

And one first-prize winner will win a wintermint lip balm, a bottle of rose hydrosol, and a free 1/2 hour herbal phone consultation with yours truly.  You can check out the prizes here:

wintermint lip balm

rose hydrosol

Good luck, and please, be sure to leave a comment here on the blog so I know that you entered! 

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medicinal teas and spices: how to harvest and dry herbs for maximum potency

One thing I have come to look forward to every winter is when I get around to pulling out all the medicinal and culinary herbs that I have gathered and dried in the summer, removing them one by one from their paper bags and processing them into teas and spices.  I mean, if you can’t go smell the flowers outside in January, might as well enjoy a fragrant dried bouquet, or add some pretty summer blossoms to your tea, right?  One of the main goals when harvesting medicinal and culinary herbs for drying is to preserve as much of their potency, flavor, and color as humanly possible. You want that bunch of dried herbs to look, smell, and taste as much like it did 6 months ago when you picked it.

So here are a few tips and considerations to keep in mind when you harvest and dry your herbs for ensuring maximum potency:

1) Weather Conditions: First of all, you want to make sure that weather conditions are right for harvesting your herbs. The best conditions for harvesting herbs are dry and warm weather. Moisture can spell out disaster for your drying plant material, causing mold and spoilage. So, wait for a few consecutive sunny dry days before you set out to harvest your medicinal herbs.

2) Harvest Quality: Harvest only healthy, vibrant looking plant material. Trim and discard leaves and plant parts that are discolored or sun-bleached. Also make sure to use care when harvesting herbs to incur the least amount of damage to the remaining plants a as possible.

3) Storage: This is very important. You want to protect your freshly harvested plant material from developing mold and also protect it from household dust and light. One great technique I use for this is to divide up the plant material in small, loosely gathered bunches and then to place the fresh herbs directly into brown paper lunch bags to dry. Be sure to label the bags with the name of the herbs and the date and location it was harvested
(trust me, you won’t remember what the heck is in that bag a few months later).  Place the bags in a dry, well ventilated environment, such as on a shelf in your pantry. Keeping the herbs in paper bags for drying will ensure that your herbs will not be exposed to light, moisture, and dust, which will in turn protect the color, freshness, and quality of your drying plant material.

Heres a bunch of lavender that we picked last summer:

And here’s what I pulled out of the bag yesterday:

Ok the lighting is bad, but c’mon, that’s pretty good, right? 🙂

Now for the final step of drying your herbs: having fun using them!  When you pull the herbs out of the bags a few months later, that is a good time to process them into spices and tea.  This will ensure that you will actually use and enjoy your herbs, as opposed to letting them sit on the back of your shelf collecting dust until next spring.  You can place the bulk plant material into a bowl and gently crush it into small pieces, discarding the stems.  This will shrink down the storage space needed for your dried herbs considerably and prepare them for immediate household use.  You can then place the freshly crushed herbs into new or recycled jars in your kitchen, and enjoy the fragrant and delicious addition of fresh medicinal teas and culinary herbs in your diet all winter long.

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how to make your own green cleaning products at home

A few months ago when my 3rd child was born I decided that it was probably a good idea to have someone help me clean my house occasionally in order to avoid sheer insanity.  At least temporarily.  Well, after some research I found a wonderful family that has a local business called Inner Spaces Eco Services, and not only are they wonderful people who have become my friends, but they also make all of their own freshly-scented cleaning products.  This got me inspired to follow suit, as I had been thinking about it for a while, and now I had someone to show me how.  It’s a lot easier than I imagined, and I love the natural smell and sparkling clean that these natural, chemical-free cleaning products provide.  Here’s what you’ll need:

8oz white distilled vinegar
8oz water
2 Tbsp liquid castile soap (optional)
20 drops lavender essential oil
10 drop tea tree oil
1 spray bottle (you can reuse one you already have)

Simply mix all the ingredients in your spray bottle and clean away! You can change up the essential oils if you prefer a rosemary or lemon scent for example instead of the tea tree or lavender. If you’re interested in making your own products at home, here’s some exciting news. Mountain rose herbs is offering a free give-away for an abundant supply of these natural cleaning supplies, as well as some great recipes for cleaning products. You can enter the giveaway here on their blog.  You can enter this giveaway until Monday Jan 9, so act now to enter!

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