Good morning and welcome to another week on my blog!
I got up early this morning. Mom and Dave are in NC again this week so I get to babysit, so I get to get up early. Since I'm not always up before the sun, I don't get pictures of sunrises very often. When I worked as a care-giver, I had to be at the lady's house around 6:30, so I was always driving as the sun came up. I took a million pictures, but never did post any, that I remember. So, this morning, I went outside around 6:20 or so and got a few pictures. I was playing with the settings on my camera, so I have a few different lightings in the pictures.
A while after Rylie got here, I made her an egg for breakfast. While she was eating, she asked about Pam. So I told her that Pam was gone right now, and she pointed towards mom's bedroom and said "Pam sleeping?" I told her no, that Pam was gone. I could've sworn she said "Pam tomorrow?" but that sounds a far-fetched. I wouldn't be that surprised, though!
Rylie and I went out and took care of Cookie and Regal. She carried out a bowl of garlic for me to add to their food, and we gave the dogs their pain pills. I made up a mixture for the dogs' ear infections, and I attempted putting that in their ears. Ha! They did NOT like that very much.
I put Rylie down for a nap a little while ago, started some laundry, and started making some laundry detergent. I've been wanting to make my jewelweed cream for a couple weeks now, and now that I have the lard I made, I can make the cream. So, I went to find my recipe.
The jewelweed recipe is on the back of a piece of paper in a very secure location, a location I would be sure to remember when I needed to find the recipe again. HAHAHAHA. After I spent an hour going through every piece of paper in the house, I still hadn't found it. I found everything else...any other recipe you'd need, phone numbers for various people along with directions to their houses, how many pounds of meat we got from the last cow we butchered, questions I wrote down to ask when I called about a milk cow that was for sale, prices from different vets for mastitis shots, the vet's cell phone number....like I said, anything else, but my jewelweed recipe.
So, I pulled up my old blog and did a search for jewelweed. And you know what I found? I found a post that I never posted, a draft, on jewelweed. It had all of the amounts and measurements that I used last time! I had planned on uploading pictures after I wrote the post, inserting them, and then posting the blog. Well, I guess I never got around to the picture part. So, here's the post I found, exactly as I wrote it July 18, 2010.
Last year, I made a Jewelweed cream. You’ll find jewelweed growing in close proximety to poison ivy, and it is extremely effective in combating itching of all shapes and sizes. I steeped this “weed” in lard, and added various other ingredients to make this ointment, and it has worked wonders on every itch, scrape, and burn. It takes away pain, and, of course, the itch! I am constantly amazed at the common “weeds” that grow everywhere, in everyone’s front yard, and have healing powers!
I noticed a few weeks ago that our Jewelweed was blooming. When we got back in town, I saw that it was almost done blooming, and it was wilting from the heat and lack of water. So I went out and gathered plenty. I also did a bit of research to add to what I already knew, and decided to add in a little plantain. If you’ve read my previous blogs, you’ve heard me rave about plantain, so I won’t go over all of that again. I’ll just say that it’s an incredible plant! Until this past trip we took, I would’ve said plantain grows everywhere. Not so. It doesn’t grow in fertilized fields in Pennsylvania. I looked and looked, in the field where we were camped, and only saw maybe one or two pitiful looking plants. I know that plantain does grow in West Virginia, though, at a particular rest stop along the way. Dad’s eyes were really bothering him, with allergy problems, and he was beginning to think that he may have an infection in his right eye. He’s had one before, and he said it felt like that’s what it may be. Plantain draws out infections, so at the next rest stop (in West Virginia) I made a plantain poultice (crushed some leaves, sandwiched that between layers of paper towels, and wet it with warm water.) He held that on his eye for a couple of hours, and he never got a full-blown infection. Well, he was too stubborn to go have it seen about, so I guess we’ll never know if it was an infection, and the plantain got rid of it, or if it was just his allergies clearing up! He did say that his vision was blurry for a little while after that, so I’m not sure I can recommend the plantain for eye infections! I don’t know what it could do…a little scary, isn’t it?!
First of all, I went out and gathered a bucket full of Jewelweed. I would’ve liked to have had more flowers in with it, but the flowers were pretty much gone by the time I went out. (Now, since it’s rained a little more, I’ve seen the jewelweed patches are all blooms again!) I just take scissors and snip off large sections of the plant…stems and leaves. I had a 2-gallon bucket overflowing before it was over with! Then I chopped it small, and put it in a large pot. This is probably a 1 1/2 gallon pot, and it was about half-full. I chopped the plantain in there as well, and it was just a few handfulls of plantain.
((chopped weed pics))
Now I added lard. A lot of people would get icky about using lard in this, but the lard is actually great for your skin, and helps the skin absord the other beneficial ingredients more efficiantly. I think I ended up adding about a quart of lard. You want it to be able to cook down, and be thick in the oil, without being too dry. The amount of oil you use is relative to the amount of herbs you have…and you don’t have to get as much as I did! As you will see later on, you can tweak the recipe for the amount you’d like.
((lard in weed pic))
I let this cook down for a while…
And then added about 1 cup of chamomile flowers. I read that they were also good for skin ailments…
I let it continue to simmer for a long time…a few hours, stirring to make sure it wasn’t burning or anything bad like that!
I actually left this on the stove (not on!) all night, and the heated it back up in the morning to finish making it. I figured a little more time infusing all that helpful stuff wouldn’t hurt! I did have to reheat it then, though, because the lard solidified slightly.
After it was warm and relatively thin again, I set up a straining contraption. My chamomile was old and there were a lot of powdery pieces, and I wanted to make sure none of that went through, so I set up 2 different straining cloths. You can see a little of how I did it in this next picture…it’s a handkerchief (unused!!!) followed by a piece of an old T-shirt, in a wire mesh strainer, sitting in a glass bowl! Oh, on top of a pot-holder, since it was hot! Do be careful and choose your bowl wisely. Mine proceeded to crack and I had jewelweed oil everywhere. The table will never itch again. Oh, and also…it would be easiest if the cloths you chose to strain through weren’t very important and could be thrown away. I didn’t relish the idea of trying to get lard and cooked grasses/weeds out of a cloth, so I chose straining cloths that could be thrown away. Cleanup is a breeze that way! (Assuming your bowl didn’t crack and leak oil everywhere, that is!)
((straining setup pics))
Pour the gunky stuff through and press it was dry as you can…make sure you get all the oil out that you can!
((pics of straining))
Now you have pretty (sort of….) jewelweed oil! Truth be told, you can just use this as an anti-itch oil, but I think a creamy consistency is more desirable!
((pics of oil))
The proportions I’m using for this recipe are for 3 cups of infused oil, so I measured this into a different (non-broken) glass bowl.
((pics of 3 cups))
To this oil I added 4 ounces of beeswax. Now, if you’re not using lard, and are using a liquid oil instead, beeswax proportions WILL be different! Lard is semi-solid, so you will need less beeswax when working with lard than when working with, say, sweet almond oil. We have these great beeswax pastiles, and they beat the stew out of trying to shave pieces of beeswax off of a block!!! 4 oz…
((pics of beeswax and adding it))
Now in goes 1 tablespoon of Vitamin E oil…
((pics of vit e)
And 1 1/2 teaspoons of aloe vera concentrate…
((pics of aloe))
Now we have to melt all of this together, which takes approximately 4 1/2 years. Or so it seems…. This should be done double-boiler style. I put water in a large pot, and then set this glass bowl with the ingredients in it down in the water, and heated the whole contraption up.
((pics of heating))
After the 4 1/2 years, or until it’s all melted together, whichever comes first, you can take it out, to be poured into the containers of your choice. I was able to use these 1 cup glass jars that Mom had ordered for another product!
((Pics of jars))
And just pour the jewelweed ointment into the jars!
Let it cool completely, and there you have it!
((pics of finished))
These actually turned out darker than the batch I made last year. I think I steeped the herbs longer, and the added plantain may have altered that as well.
If you’re like me, now you’ll be trying to find a bite that itches so you can try it out…you know, that bite that woke you up at 2am itching so bad, and now you can’t find it?! Don’t you just love when that happens? Or is it just me….
So, that's what an old blog post draft looks like. :) When I make the cream this time, it'll be a little different...I don't have any chamomile, for one, and I think I'll add a couple things. I decided I needed to make a couple raised beds and import some plantain and comfrey. Looks like I'll be hiking and gathering this afternoon!
BTW, I need something to cheer me up...I didn't win the awesome orange mixer from PW. :( I want one of those soooo bad!