Springtime Scenes

It’s springtime!!
The weather has been improving around here lately and we’ve so been enjoying being outside without it turning cold or rainy. (Although that still happens…a lot. It is after all, Washington State. And “warm” is a relative term….to us that means more than 50F degrees.) It’s supposed to warm up to 70F next week though- I am SO excited!

I’ve been trying to have us go on walks/hikes more often, to enjoy the outdoors as well as get some exercise. Here are some pictures of a few family outings recently, and just some springtime beauty.

 

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On a walk through the woods at a local trail park

 

Our chickens are loving being able to eat all the new plants coming up!

Our chickens are loving being able to eat all the new plants coming up

 

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I love the sunniness of dandelions against these old transformer caps!

 

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Some of my favorite springtime flowers.

 

A walk on the beach turned up this cute little crab.

A walk on the beach turned up this cute little crab.

 

My sweet little girls

My sweet little girls

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I hope you have a lovely weekend and enjoy springtime! 🙂

The Garden, She is Planted. Mostly.

So, I bet from the title of my post you can guess what I’m going to write about.

Yup.

Our garden is finally in the works- most of the seeds are in the ground and a few are poking their brave little heads above the soil to open their leaves to the world.

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This is a Cherokee Trail Of Tears Black Bean.

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I think this is a Calima Bush Bean. I think.

I am so pumped!

I really hope everything doesn’t die.

Sorry, that was bad English.

I really hope that most of the seeds survive- we’ve already lost all but two broccoli plants ( out of 6) and a couple of my tomato plants are about to bite the dust.
Thankfully, I have more seeds I can plant and replace the ones that died.
I also have a few crops that I’m going to wait until late summer to plant, like another round of broccoli, some parsnips, and turnips and then in the fall I’ll do another round of lettuce and spinach and cabbage.
Here is my garden plan: it’s super high-tech. See?

Who needs a fancy computer plan if you have paper and a pen?

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That’s the only way I know what is planted where; I didn’t take the time to label everything in the garden. Maybe I will after the plants all sprout, we’ll see. There are some pretty cute ideas on Pinterest.

For those of you who can’t read my crazy drawing, here is what we planted:

Alaska Peas, Sugar Snap Peas, Zucchini, Sweet Postatoes, Soup Beans, Marigolds, Arkansas Traveller Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Calima Bush Beans, Zinnias, Red Potatoes, some other potatoes that were given to us, Black Beans, Amish Paste Tomatoes, Ox Blood Beets, Cherry Tomatoes, Oak Leaf Lettuce, Rocky Top Lettuce Mix, Spinach, Chives, Broccoli, Cilantro, Leeks, Chiogga Beets, Atomic Red Carrots, Half Long Guernsey Carrots, Radishes, Cabbage and Garlic.

Whew! I also have a bunch of herbs that are growing in containers, like Basil, Chamomile, Thyme, Oregano and some others that I still need to plant like Horehound, Borage and Yarrow.

I’m not sure where I’m going to plant those yet.

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For now, I’m just out there in the garden every day, pulling up grass roots and pesky weeds, anxiously scanning the dirt to see if any new seeds have popped up, and squealing when I find them. It’s the simple things in life. 🙂

Honey and Cinnamon- The Best Cold Medicine Ever!

Hello everyone,

Sorry it’s been a while since my last post- our family has been hit with a bad springtime cold and I have been struggling to just get dinner on the table some days. (Like yesterday. Hubby offered to just go get pizza and that sounded so tempting, but I really wanted chicken curry and rice instead. So I pulled myself together and made it! And ya know what? It wasn’t too hard, once I got started. )

Whenever we get sick we use herbs and natural remedies to help our bodies heal themselves, at least most of the time.
Pretty much unless I have a terrible migraine- then Excedrin and I are best friends. 😉
Although drinking Rosemary tea does help with headaches, I’m out of Rosemary right now so Excedrin it is.

For more herbal remedies for colds and coughs, check out my post here. 

Anyway… (my brain is a bit fuzzy…)

One thing that really helps to banish your cold is to take a few teaspoonfuls of raw honey and cinnamon every day. It tastes like dessert- it’s so good!

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Why should you take honey and cinnamon like medicine?

Honey (specifically raw, unprocessed honey from local bees) is anti-bacterial and boosts the immune system. It has beneficial bacteria in it that helps kill the bad germs in your body. It soothes sore throats and even helps with seasonal allergies if you’re using local honey because bits of pollen from local flowers are still in the honey which helps strengthen your defenses against it.  Honey that has been pasteurized (that is, heated up so all the good bacteria in it are killed) does little more than soothe sore throats and taste good.

So try to get raw honey. Even though it’s more expensive, it’s worth it! We usually get ours from the local farmer’s market when it’s in season. In the winter, we get it from the grocery store and ONLY use it for coughs and colds because its like liquid gold!

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This is from the farmer’s market and it is SO yummy! It kind of has a vanilla-y taste to it from the flowers the bees feed on.

Cinnamon helps clear the airways, improves digestion, aids in reducing inflammation and eliminating phlegm and it is also anti-bacterial. It has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb as well as a spice in foods. I just use the cinnamon that we have in the spice cabinet, although of course organic cinnamon is better. But ours is just from Costco.

So how do you take this herbal remedy?

Just get some raw honey and cinnamon and sprinkle a bit of cinnamon onto a spoon.

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Scoop out a teaspoon full of honey and mix it with the cinnamon. I usually use a knife tip or the end of a fork or spoon to do this. Be careful that it doesn’t ooze all over and drip everywhere!

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Then, savor the delicious taste and relish in the fact that this medicine tastes so good and is so good for you!

Take at least two times a day, or more if you feel like you need it or are having a sweet craving. 😉

I had to laugh recently when my mom asked the kids if they wanted some medicine. She was trying to get them not to want what she was eating.  They jumped up and down and shouted, “yes!” because usually their medicine is this remedy or yummy honey thyme tea or herbal cough medicine that tastes like honey. They don’t know that most man made medicines taste bad!  That makes me happy.

I hope you have a great weekend- I’m going to focus on getting over this cold and hopefully I’ll be back with more regular posting next week.

Disclaimer: 
I am not a doctor and am not prescribing treatment for you or anyone else- just sharing what works for us and our family. If your cold continually gets worse when you’ve been treating it or you have trouble breathing or a high fever (over 104) that won’t come down, consult a doctor immediately. Be wise, people.  This is for coughs and runny noses and congestion, not a life saving treatment! 🙂

 

Shared at The HomeAcre Hop

The Roof Is On the Coop!

Last week, we put the roof on the chicken coop.

By “we”, I mean my dad…  😉 Thanks, Dad!!

Hooray!!

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My dad put up cross rafters, then layered the sheets of roofing and screwed them down. We used the same roofing as on the house and sheds; so everything matches nicely.

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Then dad put up some chicken wire across the space at the top of the coop, for ventilation and so no predators can get in.

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Now our little chickies are warm and dry and can stay in the coop all the time! They’ve been in there since Wednesday and are loving the extra space to run around and clean straw to scratch in.

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We still have a few cracks to seal up and we’re going to concrete around the base of the coop to keep critters out (mostly our dogs) and then we’re going to build a chicken run outside of the coop. At some point.

And we’ll build real roosting poles and nesting boxes for the inside of the coop as the chickens get bigger. I think we’re going to use plastic crates for the nesting boxes.

Once the chicks get a bit older, we’re just going to let them free range in our fenced orchard and garden and hopefully they won’t get eaten by hawks. We lost a chick earlier last week because it jumped over the short partition we had over the doorway of the coop and got picked up by a hawk, so we may end up letting the chicks free range less than we expected. I’ve heard that stringing fishing wire over the top of your enclosure deters hawks, so we might try that. Has anyone had success with that? Let me know if you have! 🙂

Foraging: Chickweed

One of my goals for this year is to try to incorporate new plants into our diet by foraging for greens and herbs that commonly grow as weeds or that have been growing in our yard and we didn’t know we could eat.

Chickweed is one of the first I’ve been wanting to try.

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I’ve always known chickweed was edible for rabbits and chickens, but imagine my surprise when I was flipping through an herbal encyclopedia and there it was as an herb!

Chickweed commonly grows in shaded, semi-moist areas; I’ve usually found it growing on the north side of our house or in shady flowerbeds. It’s kind of hard to describe what it looks like; it has small star shaped white flowers and is a low growing plant that spreads across the ground, typically no higher than 10 inches or so. It is found pretty much in every region except Antarctica, so chances are you have some growing near you!

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It has a nice, fresh taste- not bitter at all, and when chopped up into small pieces fits really unobtrusively into a salad. Make sure you chop it finely though because the stems can be stringy otherwise.  I picked some last week and stuck it in a salad and the menfolk ate it without even noticing what it was! Not that you need to sneak it…but some people might be weirded out by thinking they are eating chick weed from the yard.

Why would you want to eat chickweed?

It has great nutritive benefits!

Chickweed helps your body absorb nutrients more effectively.  It helps reduce inflammation, is an expectorant and can be used to help reduce phlegm from common colds. It also helps improve digestion and soothes the kidneys, sore throats, bladder, urinary tract and when eaten regularly even can possibly help reduce cysts in the breast or ovaries.

Chickweed used as a poultice can be used for skin conditions like bug bites and stings, and helps draw out puss from infected cuts. For even better healing properties, you can combine it with plantain leaf when making a poultice.

We feed it to our chickens and they love it, and the kids just pick it and eat it raw sometimes, right from the plant. I love finding herbs growing in our backyard!

Of course, I am not a doctor and cannot prescribe treatment for anything, and these statements haven’t been approved by the FDA. I’m sharing what we’ve done as a family and from the herbal knowledge that has spanned centuries of use. Make sure you know without a doubt what you are eating before you go picking random flowers/plants from your yard or the forest as there are poisonous plants out there! 

For more information on chickweed, check out this website or this one or go get yourself a great herb encyclopedia.

We have an older similar version of that book and I LOVE it!

I don’t get a commission from Amazon for recommending this book, it’s just a great one to have in your library.

Have you ever tried chickweed? I’d love to hear about it!

 

Shared at Wildcrafting Wednesday.

Chicken Coop: Construction-In-Progress

Last weekend we started building the chicken coop.

We have 17 little chickies that are a week old today, and they’re fast outgrowing their little container that they’re currently in. Hopefully in the next few weeks we’ll be able to move them into this new coop.

It all started with dirt.

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Moving sod, digging, leveling the dirt to get the site ready to build on. We all jumped in and got it done.

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Thankfully, it was a nice sunny day. Then we dug a trench around the perimeter of the site (which is  10′ long x 8’wide ) so that we could put chicken wire down in the dirt and bury it to deter any digging predators/pests like rats or raccoons.

And once we were done, we realized that the trench wasn’t over far enough. So we dug it again.

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Next, we dug the post holes for the corners!

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And installed them..

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My Dad has a never-ending supply of wood, being a logger. We’re so thankful for that!

We used cedar posts and fir for the cross beams and the main body of the coop.

We were going to use this log as corner posts, but when my brother Brian opened it up, it was full of termites. Ick. Thankfully we had more cedar for posts!

We were going to use this log as corner posts, but when my brother Brian opened it up, it was full of termites. Ick. Thankfully we had more cedar for posts!

Then it was time for the rafters to go up! This was interesting to watch. I’m glad I didn’t have to help; it was rather precarious! The guys tied a rope around the cross beams and lifted them up, then slid them into the notches that had been cut into the front posts. It took a few tries of sawing bits off and adjusting the beam to get it to fit.

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End of day one: Not too bad! We got a good start on this project.

Day two: We laid the chicken wire on the floor, buried it, then finished putting up the rafters and started on the walls.

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We peeled the logs for the rafters to help them dry out quicker and keep them from rotting.

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Then Dad and Tim finished putting up the rafters and started on the walls.

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Then, we found a door lying around in the back shed and built a frame for it.

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And installed it.

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Finally; as the sun was sinking behind the hill and the temperature was rapidly dropping, a bit of the walls began to go up.

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The guys were so ready to come inside and eat dinner at that point- it was a long, hard day but we got a lot accomplished!

I can’t wait til next weekend when we can work on it some more and hopefully get the rest of the walls done!

 

 

Shared at WildCrafting Wednesday

We Have Chickens!! (again)

Yesterday, the chicks came in at the local farm store and we just had to go and get a few.

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Or…

Seventeen.

Yep. Seventeen.

We have the chicks under a red bulb heat lamp to help them stay calm and not peck each other.

We have the chicks under a red bulb heat lamp to help them stay calm and not peck each other. And of course, to keep them warm. They have to be at 95 degrees for the first week.

We planned on getting an even dozen- with us buying six and my mom and dad buying six, but then my mom (who loves babies of any kind) decided that if we ever move out and take our six chickens with us, she still needed a good-sized brood so she wanted ten chicks instead. And then we miscounted and an extra chick somehow made it into the box.

So we have seventeen baby chicks and boy, are they adorable!

As far as breeds go, we have Australorp, Buff OrpingtonRhode Island Red and Barred Rock chicks- all great laying breeds and some are dual-purpose for meat birds as well, although I don’t think we’ll be eating any of these. Unless like six turn out to be roosters or something.

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Ethan holding either an Australorp or Barred Rock- they’re hard to tell apart at this age!

We made sure to get organic feed so that we’ll have healthy chicks that haven’t been fed GMO grains and in turn, we’ll have healthy eggs once they start laying in about five months.

I’m happy because the feed is semi-local. It’s from Canada, but in British Columbia, which is only a few hours away and as the chicks get bigger and are able to eat larger grains, we’ll buy feed that is unprocessed, organic whole grain feed and is from Bellingham, WA; only two hours away! So we’re supporting local businesses as well.

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As soon as the chicks are big enough, we’ll let them free range around the yard in a semi-enclosed space, to gobble up bugs and grass and get great nutrition the way God intended- from nature! We have a lot of hawks and eagles around here, so the chicks will have to be under netting or chicken wire most of the time to stay safe. We’re hoping the dogs will also help protect the flock from getting eaten. So far they’re doing pretty well with the chicks, although Daisy tried to pick one up in her mouth. She wants to mommy them, but she’s not too gentle about it! Our dog, Lucy is really protective of the chicks- she remembers the smell from when we had our chickens in Memphis and knows not to eat them. Bailey, the puppy doesn’t seem to care about them. She took one look and then walked away.

The kids sure are having fun with the chicks, they want to go check on them all the time, but we make sure the chickies have enough down time that they don’t get over handled and the kids are not allowed to go in to see them without an adult. I don’t mind checking on the chicks, I think I’m having just as much fun with them as the children! 🙂

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Maybe I”ll do an upcoming post about how to take care of baby chicks, for those who would like to get a small flock and are not sure how to start. I’m by no means an expert, but this is our second time around with baby chicks and I’ve found lots of great resources on chicken raising. I’ll include some links and tips to get you started, at least. 🙂 Leave a comment if you think that is a good idea.

Hope you have a great Thursday!

Homemade Flour Tortillas

I wrote a couple days ago on my Facebook page that I’d made tortillas to go with dinner, and promised to share the recipe later, so here I am! 🙂

I’ve been baking all kinds of things for years, even made my own pasta  for a while, but for some reason making my own tortillas didn’t occur to me. Or when it did,  I was kinda scared to think about doing it. What if I burn them? How do you cook them?

Flour tortillas are so easy to make! I wish I’d gotten up the courage to try before now. I don’ t think we’ll ever buy tortillas again- they are so much more flavorful and less gummy than the flour tortillas you get at the store, and don’t have any of the weird preservatives in them. All you need are a few simple ingredients you probably already have in your house.

You also get to get your fingers into the dough and get messy, which is so much fun! If you have little helpers at home, they will love this. I love it too! Flour is so soft, and it just feels nice between my fingers.

Homemade Flour Tortillas

Makes 8-10 tortillas per batch

3 cups all purpose flour

1/3 cup Coconut oil or olive oil or lard from pastured pork

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp. baking powder

1 cup very warm water

Put the flour in a mixing bowl, add the coconut oil and smash around with your fingers until you have a bunch of tiny lumps throughout the flour.

Add the salt and warm water and mix until it turns into a nice dough.

Form into balls, let sit for at least 30 minutes.  It won’t really rise, but the dough needs to sit.

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Get out your rolling pin and on a floured surface, roll out your tortillas til they are just thick enough to stay together when you try to peel them off the counter. Supermodel thin. They will rise when you are cooking them, so make them thinner than you want to start with.

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I made them too thick the first time and they kinda turned out like pita bread instead of tortillas. Which wasn’t bad, per say; but they were more bready than we were shooting for. All of my tortillas also end up being  fun cool shapes, more like a rectangle or a stretched animal skin than round.  It gives them character. Makes eating more interesting. 🙂

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Cook your tortillas in a cast iron skillet on medium high heat til bubbles form on the first side, then flip the tortilla and let it go another few seconds. If I roll out one at a time, I can usually get another tortilla rolled while one is cooking. And if you happen to burn it a little- it’s okay. I did the same thing. They still tasted amazing.

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If you have any leftover from your meal or are making them for wraps, etc, then stick the tortillas immediately into a 2 gallon ziplock bag. A one gallon bag will work if your tortillas aren’t too big, but I tend to make larger ones so I need a bigger bag. Remember that these tortillas don’t have any preservatives in them so they won’t keep for a month like store bought tortillas will. Freeze them, or eat them right up. We haven’t had a problem with any sticking around for more than a week so far, since they are so good. I’m not sure beyond that how well they will stay.

This is what I used my tortillas for. Chicken Enchiladas. Delicious. 🙂

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Have fun making tortillas!

This post is shared at WildCrafting Wednesday.

Re-Mineralizing Tooth Powder

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about tooth re-mineralization, how it can reverse cavities and even heal them without having to go to the dentist.

Say, what?!

That’s right. Read this mom’s testimony about how she healed her son’s cavity.

The original idea of healing cavities as opposed to drilling them out comes from Dr. Weston A. Price, DDS. He was a dentist back in the 20’s and 30’s and discovered that cavities come from nutritional deficiencies and once those are corrected, the cavity heals itself.
He has a book on it called Nutrition and Physical Degeneration that I’m planning on reading- I haven’t read it yet but the subject is fascinating.

Not having health insurance; this is of some interest to our family since we don’t really have the funds for paying for the dentist.  My son has cavities in his molars, and I’d really love to heal them without having to go to the dentist.

I studied up on the subject and decided to purchase some Fermented Cod Liver Oil/ Butter Oil Blend and also make some Re-Mineralizing  Tooth Powder.

Dr. Price found that the combination of butter oil and fermented cod liver oil worked best to replenish nutrition needed for healthy teeth. Let me tell you, it doesn’t taste good. But it works, and it’s less expensive than going to the dentist!

The idea behind the tooth powder is to replace minerals back into the teeth that are lost over time. Bentonite clay is a great mineral resource, and it binds toxins together to remove them from your body. You can also take it internally, but be warned: it’s a laxative as well!

Using Bentonite clay in your tooth powder leaves your teeth feeling super squeaky clean, way cleaner than using just baking soda and salt, which is what I was using before. My teeth also look whiter than they did, and they stay clean-feeling all day long as opposed to just a few minutes. It’s a cosmetic grade clay that I also use in my face wash, it gently exfoliates and leaves your face feeling really soft.

I found this recipe for the tooth powder at Frugally Sustainable– an awesome website chock full of frugal, sustainable goodness. I seriously visit Andrea’s site all the time, she has such great articles! There’s more information over there about tooth re-mineralization as well- just click on the link.

Here is my version of the recipe:
(I didn’t have any essential oils, so I just skipped using them.)

4 Tbsp. Bentonite Clay

1 Tbsp Baking Soda

1 Tbsp. Myrrh Gum Powder

1/8 tsp Ground Cloves

1/8 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

2 packets of Stevia in the Raw (optional)

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Mix everything together in a small jar, and sprinkle a little bit onto your tooth brush. We used WAY too much the first time and our mouths were SUPER clay-y.  Not cool. So just a tiny bit goes a long way.

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This recipe makes about 4 oz, which will last a very long time. All four of us in our family use it and I imagine it will last us several months, since you use such a small amount each time you brush your teeth.  The kids like it, it tastes nice and clove-y and leaves your mouth feeling nice and clean. We’re still getting used to the lack of minty- freshness, but if you wanted to, I imagine you could add peppermint oil to remedy that.

You can get the clay and myrrh gum powder at Mt. Rose Herbs– it’s pretty affordable and they have great customer service and such a variety of wonderful products! (I don’t get any money for saying that- it’s just true!)

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Since we’ve begun using the tooth powder and the cod liver oil, I have noticed that all of our teeth look whiter and I think my son’s cavities may be getting smaller- it hasn’t been that long, so I can’t be sure. If they are, you will hear about it!! 🙂  What do you use for toothpaste? Have you ever thought of using tooth powder, or do you use a different recipe? I’d love to hear about it!

P.S. None of the links in the post are affiliate links- I haven’t gotten to that point yet in blogging. They’re just links to where you can buy the ingredients for the powder, if you want to. 🙂

Shared at Wildcrafting Wednesday and The Homeacre Hop