Herbal experiments

by Cari Balbo


Over the past couple weeks I've been playing around with new products, new ways of putting ingredients together. Thought I'd share a few of my putterings for anyone interested.

This sunny pot of goodness below is a frankincense salve, made with a high ratio of frankincense essential oil. There's more risk of skin irritation at this level but the benefits are higher if your skin can tolerate it. I'm using it for a wrist issue and keep it next to the bed for a fragrant nighttime application. It also makes a really nice massage cream. 

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This elixir below is made from infusing brandy with dried medicinal fruits, herbs, and spices: elderberry, elderflower, schisandra and hawthorn berries, rosehips, hibiscus, cinnamon, cloves, ginger root, and orange peel. Along with a generous glug of honey, it sat for 6 weeks on a shelf, where I shook it once in a while. It's pretty intense, even at a small dose like 2 Tablespoons. I prefer mixing it with water and sometimes elderberry tincture for more palatablity and more elderberry. Next time I would be much lighter handed with the spices. 

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The color is gorgeous but not easy to capture with my camera. A delicious way to add beneficial herbs to everyday life.

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Sweet smelling rose salve. Made with rose-infused olive oil and beeswax. The beeswax I use is highly fragrant so I like to call this Roses and Honey salve. The petals are just for the pretty.

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Roses taking an oil bath.  

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One more rose picture, because roses.

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I love the color green. This gorgeous stuff is my Green Monster salve (for when your skin feels a little scary). The base is a Greek extra virgin olive oil that feels phenomenal on the skin and smells the way the color green would if it had a smell. I infuse the olive oil with dried comfrey leaf and root. Comfrey is just amazing stuff. I'll write more about it another time but enough to say that its healing properties, particularly for the skin, are no joke. Mike has skin issues on his hands and he uses comfrey daily to keep his skin healthy. Having some of this around is never a bad idea. Plus, it's so green!

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Comfrey leaf and root in Messiniako olive oil. 

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These pretties below are made from tallow infused with roses, chickweed, and lavender, combined with comfrey oil and lavender essential oil. After whipping in the mixer, they get poured into these tins to cool and I love the pattern on their surfaces. I have a lot (understatement!) to say about tallow but I'll wait for a separate post. Every ingredient in this cream is beneficial for your skin and the aromatherapy benefit can't be overlooked. Deep inhale...

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- Cari


So long, February, well met, March weekend

by Cari Balbo


February was a tough month, and a really long one for such a short one. I love winter and I have to say I used complaining about winter as a metaphor for other not-great things happening these past few weeks. And I know I haven't been alone in feeling that way. So goodbye, February. Can't say we'll miss you but there was a lot of good, a lot of beauty and joy in you and those are the things we'll remember when the bad taste of bitter cold and storm after freaking storm passes. This is Maine.  We can handle it, we just need to let off some steam.

As this month came to a close, it was a busy productive weekend of work (especially for Mike), entertaining, socializing, getting out in our woods we love so much, farm business planning, salve making, good eating. Here are some pics of the weekend.

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Gals snowshoe with my mom, sister, and our friend. Mike has made loads of nicely marked (and stamped down) snowshoe trails through the woods. It's so vital to get out in that cold air to get re-energized when the winter starts to wear you down.

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Great light on this allee of trees yesterday.  

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An example of Mike's snowshoe paths. Love.  

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From future Pigland out to the pasture.  

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Treehouse needs shoveling.  

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Ridge Pond Farm.  

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Across the field to the barn.  

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Snow.  

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Moose maple.  

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The first of March. Shapes under the snow.  

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Down the steepest headwall.  

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The snow looks like frosting.  

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Nature's tophat.  

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Some people's idea of a perfect ratio of frosting (snow) to cake (tree).  

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The Happy Woodpecker Inn.  

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Couldn't resist one more. They're so cute.  

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For comparison. And this is just what has stayed behind on this downed tree after some windy storms and settling. It has been a snowy month.  

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Gray.  

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The crane can finally poke his head out from the snow now that some of it has melted and settled. This was before last night's storm, which probably covered him up more. 

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More of Mike's many paths.

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Blue privy window.

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End of the weekend soup - turmeric corn chowder. My sister Jane saw a picture and said it looked like sunshine in a bowl. 

- Cari