Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Giving "Thanks" During Hard Times ~ Happily Ever After?

Oftentimes we romanticize the plight of the pilgrims.

Their journey consisted of wild storms in the violent, stormy seas and a lack of fresh food for many months at a time. There was seasickness and dirty diseases while being surrounded with buckets of filth for the uses of everything else I dare not mention. Showers and clean clothes were non-existant. These people were also among passengers who taunted them for their faith on their historical voyage to the "New World".

Notwithstanding all these torments was the grief in their hearts lingering from their final good-byes to loved ones. For others it was the great detachment from the civilized world as they knew it. They would most likely never see that world and those left behind loved ones ever again.

When they finally arrived at their destination, their troubles were not over! They lost one half of their people to starvation, disease and cold in the first winter.

And this was a journey led by God because of their faith in God?

Surely they must have felt forsaken? They had every opportunity to lose hope. But, what did they do when given the opportunity?

They thanked God for everything He had done for them!

Truly there is much to learn from a people like this! In these uncertain times, it is so easy to lose heart. Looking back to the journey of this God-fearing people, we can see the grace that has been shown to us in our present circumstances because of their endurance. {Think of the legacy you may leave the next generation because of the life of faith you are currently living!}

May their example stand out like a beam of light during our dark moments for what was their source of strength?

Dear reader, it was the Living God and the inspired and encouraging words of the Scriptures!

This is the faith that we must hold on to in our own lives when our journey goes down a thorny path of sorrows, storms and pain. This is the faith that will sustain us in all circumstances. And when our life takes us to some scary scenarios, we know that we are safely in the place God has chosen for us…

"In every thing give thanks:
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18

{emphasis mine on "you"}

We know it isn't this life where we will live "happily ever after" but the next one to come. The Lord has already laid down His precious life for you, for us (John 3:16). And for that, we should always be thankful...

"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts,
to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful."
~ Colossians 3:15

This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Modest Mom Monday's, Homestead Barn Hop, Monday's Musings, Marriage Monday, Titus 2sdays, Titus 2 Tuesdays, Tuesdays with a Twist, Raising Homemakers, Make Bake Create, Wise Woman Link Up, Wow Us Wednesdays, Whatever You Wish Wednesday, Wildcrafting Wednesday, The Scoop, Coffee and Conversation, So Much at Home, Homemaking Thursdays, Home Sweet Home, Hearts for Home Thursdays, Home Acre Hop, From the Farm Blog Hop, Farmgirl Friday, Front Porch Friday Blog Hop, Simple Meals Friday, Foodie Fridays, Simply Natural Saturdays and Clever Chicks Blog Hop. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. This was shared a while back on my other blog and edited slightly for this blog.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Mulling Spice" Room Spray ~ Autumn Aroma Essential Oil Blend

"The smell rejoiceth the heart of man, for which cause they used to strew {herbs and flowers} in chambers and places of recreation, pleasure, and repose, where feasts and banquets are made."

Ah, the warmth and coziness of autumn is captured and bottled in this aromatic blend! To make this seasonal room spray, place the following ingredients (in order) in a small spritzer bottle:

Let mixture sit for 24 hours and it is ready to use! Simply spritz around your home and soak in the sweet and spicy scent! 

This would also make a lovely hostess gift if paired with our DIY mulling spices and/or simmering potpourri. Happy homemaking, ladies!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Make Your Own Gifts ~ A Lovely List

"When people take the time and care to make the presents they give, 
they put into the gifts not only the materials needed,
but also a part of themselves."

Whether you want to pamper someone with hand-crafted bath and body products or give a practical person something serviceable, there are many gifts that one can make from items found in the pantry, scrap bin or even your back yard! Here are some easy projects that we shared which would make lovely gifts (most of which include printable tags and labels)!

Writing Letters

If you enjoyed these simple projects, we share 100+ more ideas on how to frugally use up fruit scraps in our Ebook here! Most of the recipes come with matching gift tags and make lovely gifts! Happy kitchen-crafting, ladies!
All the fine print. This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making MondaysModest Mom Monday'sMonday's MusingsMake Your Home Sing MondayGood Morning Mondays,  The ScoopTitus 2 TuesdaysTuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersThe Homesteader HopWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays,  Coffee and ConversationHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeOur Simple HomesteadAwesome Life Friday Link UpFive Star Frou Frou Friday, and Shabbilicious Friday. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. This post may contain affiliate links (which are merchant links that help to support this site at no additional cost to you if you purchase an item through them). *The quote by Tasha Tudor was found on one of my favorite blogs, Little Birdie Blessings.
DIY Make your own gifts

Friday, November 7, 2014

How to Make Elderberry Medicine ~ Home Apothecary Series

"Elder’s berries have immune-enhancing properties, and they’re often combined with echinacea in immune-stimulating remedies for colds. The berries also have powerful antiviral properties and so are helpful in treating viral infections including flus, herpes, and shingles. They’re also used for treating upper respiratory infections."

Plainly said, elderberries are immune building and bad-bug-busting berries! They have both antiviral properties and are anti-inflammatory which make them a natural flu and cold fighter that can relieve coughs, sore throats, (upper respiratory infections) bronchial infections and sinus conditions. They can also be used to treat herpes, shingles, while some claim it even helps with allergy relief. The berries are also high in vitamin C, flavonoids , and other polyphenols. 

"Both elderflowers and dried Elderberries contain substances which ease inflammation and pain. Dried Elderberries soothe the intestines and have been used for all inflammatory bowel diseases. They have a very gentle laxative action, which may explain their decongestant properties. They also have a mild tonic action to help arrest diarrhea. Many other herbalists besides myself have observed a strong connection between bowel problems and respiratory congestion. There also appears to be a strong connection between bowel obstructions and fevers in children."
~ The ABC Herbal by Steven H. Horne

In order to properly identify an elderberry bush, here is a video clip of herbalist Rosemary Gladstar sharing information about it, what it looks like and where it grows (I don't have one to show you pictures myself). The bush flowers in June and July (and are used medicinally as well). Harvest only the ripe elderberries (around September-ish) as consuming unripe berries may cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Note: These recipes all use dried elderberries which are more concentrated (I don't have access to fresh). In order to use fresh, simply double the amount of berries called for in these recipes. 

How to Make an Elderberry Tincture ~ 3 Ways

One of the most popular ways to preserve the elderberry for use as a medicine {with an excellent shelf life} is to prepare an elderberry tincture. You can create a medicinal tincture with either 80-100 proof vodka, gin, brandy or rum (we use vodka), apple cider vinegar or food grade glycerin. Alcohol makes the strongest extract, vinegar the second strongest and finally, glycerin is the least potent (but it's beauty is in the fact that it is sweet tasting for children, is without alcohol and boasts a longer shelf life than the vinegar option). Please visit here if you are concerned about using alcohol based medicine.

This post will teach you How to Make a Tincture with elderberries and shares about the proper dosage.

$weet $avings: If you regularly purchase Sambucol syrup for your household, you would be saving a lot of money if you made your own! Use the glycerin-based tincture recipe in order to reproduce something similar. A 7.8 ounce bottle of the syrup on Amazon runs for $19.87! To purchase a pound of organic elderberries will cost the same amount but will enable you to make many different types of elderberry medicine with a significantly larger yield! 

Elderberry Throat Spray Recipe

To make this herbal throat spray, mix together 2 tbsp. of elderberry tincture (recipe shared above), 2 tbsp. of raw honey, 1 tbsp. warm water and 1 drop of peppermint essential oil (make sure your essential oil is food-grade, if not, use 1/4 tsp. peppermint extract). Pour into a small spray bottle and use as needed (hold sprayer close to mouth, press button briskly for a full spray to the back of mouth and throat areas). {This recipe was inspired by The Nerdy Farm Wife.}

Elderberry Oxymel Recipe or Immune Boosting Herbal Soda

Visit here for our instructions to make an elderberry oxymel or an immune boosting herbal soda.

Elderberry and Nettle All-Natural Allergy Tonic

Visit here for our instructions to make this all-natural and effective allergy tonic. 

Elderberry Infused Herbal Honey Recipe

To learn how we make an Elderberry Infused Herbal Honey, visit here.

Elderberry "Scrap" Syrup Recipe

This is a handy recipe to make with all your elderberry scraps (see below for explanation of what I am calling a "scrap") or you could also make it with fresh and dried berries (amount are shared below).
  • 2 cups "used" elderberries (I gathered all the discarded berries from the projects shared here ~except~ for the alcohol based tincture since they were "spent" after that project, and I added them to a freezer container each time and froze them until I had 2 cups worth {some are coated in honey and glycerin but that is no problem). This is intended to make a frugal syrup by utilizing the last medicinal goodness of the elderberry (I wanted to stretch them because I have to purchase mine). However, if you have access to an elderberry tree, you can just use 1 cup of fresh elderberries instead or even 1/2 cup of dried elderberries. 
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup raw honey 

Place berries, water, and spices (if using) in a stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Let this cook for 30 minutes and then smash the berries to release any remaining juice.  Strain the mixture. Once the liquid has cooled down to a warm temperature, stir in honey until it dissolves. You don't want to put the honey in while it is hot since it will kill the beneficial enzymes present in raw honey. Ladle into clean quart jar. This syrup will last for about 2 months if stored in the refrigerator.

Important Note: Infants under 1 year should not be given honey.

Elderberry Medicinal Infusion DIY

You can also use the elderberries (or even the "used" ones after a project) to make a medicinal infusion. Place about 4 tablespoons of dried elderberries in a clean quart jar or teapot. Add in some boiling water and let this steep for about 30 - 40 minutes. Strain and drink a cup three times a day (or until symptoms subside).

Prepare an Elderberry Tisane (Herbal Tea Blend)

You may also like to prepare a tisane (herbal tea blend) with your elderberries. My husband drinks different combinations each night before bed to relax (and benefit from the herbal properties). For example, once we tried a bit of lavender, chamomile, a few rose hips and lemon balm. Be creative! What do you have growing right now? Prepare your blends according to the seasons! Citrus peels are fun to use and very wintery while the florals are easy to find in the spring and summer.

Elderberry Link Up

Do you have any recipes or information on elderberry usage? We would love for you to share with us! Please join our all about elderberry link up! It will be open until the end of this month (December 2014) in order to give you the opportunity to share all you have on this magnificent fruit (and the medicinal elderflower as well)!

Printable Information Sheets for Your Herbal {Printable Herbal Here}:

Elder (sambucus nigra) Monograph Sheet (usage, properties, etc.) by The Mind to Homestead
Elder (Herbal Information Sheet) by Annie's Place to Learn
Elderberry Fact Sheet from the USDA

Further Reading and Recipes:

How to Make Elderberry Cough Drops by The Mind to Homestead
How to Make Elderberry Vinegar by Mary Jane Butters

Don't know where to find elderberries, etc? I purchase my supplies here {affiliate links}:


This article is a part of our Create Your Own Home Pharmacy Series.

Disclaimer: I am not a certified herbalist but a homemaker interested in the arts of natural healing. The information I have learned has been gleaned through study of some of the following favorite books; Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's GuideGrow Your Own Drugs by James Wong, and The Complete Illustrated Book of Herbs by Reader's Digest and websites of herbalists (such as the Bulk Herb Store Blog).

I am not a doctor. While I do seek scientific confirmation of the safety and effectiveness of the herbs and remedies I use, remember that using remedies is a personal decision. Nothing I say on this blog is approved by the FDA or intended to diagnose, treat or prevent disease. All things on this blog are my opinion or the opinion of others. Also, if you have a medical condition, are taking pharmaceutical drugs, or are pregnant, please consult your physician prior to taking herbs.