Commercial hair care product

Feeding Your Skin, Your Hair and Your Health

Ashtree WildcraftingAnother season of foraging is just around the corner.  With only three ingredients remaining in the list of wild plants we wish to sell in our wild-crafted tea blends over at Ashtree Wildcrafting, we are already thinking of how we will continue to bring locally foraged, wildcrafted loose leaf tea to market.  At worst, we will be stuck with craft fairs and online.  At best, we will earn enough to purchase business licenses and get our products into local stores.

With organic and non-GMO being the current fads out there, sometimes claims cross my screen that haven’t been thought through too well.  For example, a new hair care company is claiming that you take care what you feed your body, now do the same for your hair.  The only issue with that statement however, is that by feeding your body correctly, you are, by extension, also feeding your hair by giving it the nutrients it needs to grow.  Perhaps I am one of the few people out there who have noticed that anytime I start eating better, my hair gets thicker and longer, faster.  Less stress also helps the hair grow better while more stress causes me to start losing hair.  Needless to say, with how stressful 2018 was for the latter half, I am currently relieved that my hair is on another thicken-and-grow stage with very little being lost to the brush now.

Can you feed your hair with shampoo and hair care products?  Most hair care products are unnecessary and contain chemicals you don’t want anywhere near your body.  Those ingredient lists are almost too tiny to read on purpose, and when you can read them, many of the ingredients are on the banned-but-allowed-under-a-certain-threshold list on the Canadian government website.  It has been the experience of my daughter and I, that making our own shampoo and conditioner eventually reduced to shampoo and an Argan oil blend as needed.  The oils and the castille soap are purchased at the store.  However, we infuse the water with a blend of herbs that we’ve harvested from the forest and meadow.  These herbs treat the scalp more than they treat the hair, which is necessary due to my daughter’s flaky skin issue on her head.  Nettle for example, does almost as good a job as Head and Shoulders in treating dandruff.  The high Vitamin E content of the Argan oil blend feeds the skin directly as well.  Mint, Dandelion, and Burdock have anti-inflammatory properties that calm the scalp as well.  The recipe we use calls for a tiny bit of olive or jojoba oil, so we infused some olive oil with a similar mix of herbs, swapping out the mint for plantain.

These herbs help the skin of the scalp to function better, resulting in healthier roots for our hair.  Researching shampoos and conditioners led us to believe that it would roughly a month before our hair stopped looking limp and oily all the time.  For us it was the better part of 6 months to get past that phase depending on the season of the year (seasonal changes can result in brief bouts of ongoing oiliness), and another year and a half before we both began noticing our hair getting thicker, healthier and longer.

It is important to remember that once your hair leaves the skin and flops around on your head, the part you brush and wash is actually dead.  The roots in the skin follicles are what you are feeding whether directly through the skin itself, or via your diet and lifestyle.  Having said that, Plantain and Burdock aid in darkening your hair colour, while Dandelion aids in lightening it.  Needless to say, the streaks my daughter gets in the summertime don’t go away half as quickly, and her un-died balayage treatment in the lower half of her hair sticks around throughout the year now.

Two-thirds of the way through our first year or so of making our own shampoos and conditioners, we began to discover we didn’t need the conditioner as often.  For the past year we haven’t used any conditioner save for the occasional squirt of Argan oil rubbed between our hands to touch up the ends of our hair or a squirt along the part on top to keep the skin from drying out.  This has led us to another conclusion, that the hair-care industry has largely manufactured its own market.

Curly-wavy hairStudying the origins of hair care as we know it in the modern-day, led us to discover that the lie was perpetrated that your hair was greasy and needed cleansing.  That was followed up by, your hair is brittle and too wispy, and full of knots, tame it with conditioner.  The shampoos that were made commercially were responsible for the brittleness and the development of knots.  Both my daughter and I have long hair by today’s standards, and neither of us are using conditioner now, even of our own making almost 3 years later.

One of the things that you will be taught if you take a marketing course, webinar, or spend time educating yourself on the topic via articles, books, etc, is that if you have a product for which there is no existing market, create it!  You create your market by creating the problem that your product will fix.  You then tell people they have this problem and that you have the solution for it.

This wasn’t just done with shampoo and conditioner early on, it was also done with deodorant and antiperspirant.  As those have aluminum in them, we are now finally experimenting with homemade deodorants that will replace the commercial brands.  A few years ago, I began only applying the commercial stuff a couple times a week because what I was buying had long periods of active behaviour.  The latest commercial antiperspirant in my drawer says it will last up to 90 hours!!!  It’s also motion-activated, so I would apply it on Monday and find myself fighting with the soap to get it off on Thursday before I shaved or it would gum up the razor.  However, even with the slowed pace of application, I am having to use a Ph-rebalance solution first, because the deodorant we made was causing me to rash out.  This rashing is normal when moving from chemicals to natural, but the Ph-rebalancer aids in the transition, and is to be used anytime the homemade deodorant causes rashing in the future.  Homemade deodorant has baking soda if you can’t afford Bentonyte clay.  Some recipes combine the two, or use corn starch.  Ours uses corn starch and baking soda to reduce the environment necessary for bacteria to grow, but because baking soda does this via its alkaline nature, the need to rebalance your skin’s PH balance will crop up from time to time.  My son and I are having to start with the rebalancer.  One source said that for some people, that’s all they will ever need.  We’ll see how this experiment goes.  The skin’s pores need to a) unclog from years of being deliberately clogged, and b) calm down and not work has hard as they used to, to do the same job of removing impurities from the body.

But the point is that in an effort to create markets and sales for products we never needed, companies have created problems we didn’t know we had and have sold us the solution.  We only make lifestyle changes in this house when it fits within our budget to do so.  As we’ve noted in the past, we are saving quite a bit of money not buying commercial hair care products, toothpaste, and now deodorant.  We do buy the castille soap, our carrier oils that fit our budget, the baking soda, etc.  But we forage for the herbs we put into these products.

Overall, we are healthier for the changes we’ve made, including our hair.

Ashtree Wildcrafting

From Frugality and Foraging to Small Business

It’s been awhile since writing another blog post here. Physical health has not been good for months first with a damaged foot and then with a broken collarbone. This has strained already tight finances and made it difficult to get out and forage. Even if mobility had been available, the Okanagan got socked in with heavy smoke so bad at one point that our air quality was worse than Bejing’s!

Ashtree WildcraftingBut all was not lost. Various friends began telling us that we needed to start selling the teas my daughter makes from some of our dried foraged wild ingredients. Being laid up after surgery was the perfect time to start researching necessary licenses and paperwork to get the idea off the ground. Ashtree Wildcrafting was registered with the Canadian government by the end of July, and our first sale of tea from the website took place this very weekend in September! Once the smoke cleared and mobility began to return, we got out there foraging not just for ourselves this time, but for the business as well, on property whose owners granted us permission for a wide swath of their property. What began as meeting a need to stay healthy on a limited budget, has morphed into a small business!

The beauty of online business was brought home to me in the first three weeks after my collarbone surgery, when I received a couple active sign-ups over at SFI! One of those is still active, and because of these two, I was able to upgrade my affiliate status for a month in August. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to repeat the upgrade for October or not, but we’ll see. These two people saw ads I’d already posted around the ‘net prior to my accident, and saw the opportunity the way I see it, BUT had money to do more with it than I’ve been doing.

SFI recently added a couple new features to their online empire as well. Astro Auctions is one of them, and I’ve been playing those whenever I win a T-Time contest to win T-Credits. T-credits are necessary to enter these online silent auctions. Because of making EA back in August, I was able to receive 10 T-Credits in September, and spent most of those on one daily silent auction entry for several days. Those drastically boosted my Rewardical stash, because each T-credit spent on a silent auction earns you at least 10 Rewardicals, if not more. I’m saving them to help me go EA in the future.

I spent a couple T Credits playing one of the games over at Eager Zebra, and they have a new word game there as of this month, called HIDDEN. Foxes are hiding letters of a word and offering clues to what the word is. But the hints aren’t always easy to guess. If you spot a red, silver or the rare white fox, you get extra game points and other rewards as well. I’ve spotted the rare white fox twice now and have a badge to show for it. I’ve also “outfoxed” the foxes once so far, meaning I successfully guessed at least 10 words before my 30 clues ran out. If you like word games, you need to check out Eager Zebra. They have trivia, card, and sports picks as well.

The one source that seems to send me sign-ups more consistently than others continues to be InfinityTrafficBoost. I get eyeballs from other sources, but ITB continues to be the one that sends me regular sign-ups. I even changed my SFI gateway to one that says income doesn’t come without work and effort. This means there are actually people out there who honestly do want to work, and this is a good thing. There are many more out there who want money for nothing, but that never works.

The Poor Man's BudgetI recently ran across an article claiming you can’t live on $75 per week for a 3-member family with two teenagers. If you’ve taken my course: The Poor Man’s Budget (or anyone for that matter): A 5 Week Course – Learning to live within your means, you will know that I actually do teach how to feed your family on what I refer to as LESS than a shoe-string budget! In fact, it was those thoughts that spawned this blog to begin with. Too often, people’s ideas of saving money or spending on a shoe-string budget assume you have more income coming in than I typically do. I felt it was necessary to start this blog to show how I teach this concept, how I live this concept, and what can come of this concept. The neat thing is when figuring out methods to feed my family better turn into a business concept like they did this summer.

It’s amazing how much money people find when they strip their expenses down to the bare essentials. For my household, that stripping down means less stress trying to figure out how to pay essential bills. it is my hope that my online endeavors begin to change our financial picture, but in the meantime, how we’ve learned to live will continue to be something we share with others to help ease their loads as well.

tiny salads

Passover and Bitcoin ~ As Seasons Change. . .

Spring has sprung, which means now you’ll start seeing more about foraging again as well as my BTC adventures and financial budgetting tips, thoughts and adventures.

Around our house, we celebrate Passover instead of Easter, which made the incredibly early lunar holiday a bit of a challenge for us this year. We visited one of our usual foraging grounds to see if any plants were poking above the ground yet, and managed to come home with a few samples to at least use in the ceremony portion of the meal if we couldn’t have them as an actual salad yet. Combined with a ground-ivy my daughter’s been nibbling on at work, we managed to have very cute symbolic salads this year!

On the Bitcoin front, Uquid still doesn’t have a replacement debit/credit card yet, but for Canadians that’s not a terrible thing just yet. Today I paid a tiny amount that was placed on a new high-interest-charging Canadian Tire MCRD, through This service lets Canadians pay their bills directly with Bitcoin! The service exchanges the funds on the spot and if the bill is below a certain threshold, there is no transaction fee at Bylls. You may still have to pay a transaction fee at your wallet’s end however, so if you live in Canada and want to use BTC to pay bills, make sure you are ok with the transaction fee your wallet wants before sending your funds through Bylls or any other service for that matter. In the same way you have to decide if it’s worth $5 to have someone else shop and deliver your groceries or spend $2.5 in gas to go do it yourself, you need to make similar decisions when spending your Bitcoin. Is the convenience of using a service such as Bylls wise for you, or is the convenience costing more than you wish to pay?

Always choose the option that leaves the most funds in your wallet. If that means a little extra work, or a little longer wait time, the delayed gratification of knowing you didn’t have to spend more than necessary will pay off. Fees add up and many people forget this, wondering where their funds went.

End-to-End System for Earning, Saving, Growing, Spending BTC!

As I prepare to type tonight, I am busy in InfinityTrafficBoost doing my 100 site surf routine for the day.  The rest of what I am about to type about today however, begins with the earnings that Faucet Ally has netted me since March of 2017.  It is my goal to get ITB doing the same thing and ITB has the higher opportunity to do so in a far safer fashion.  In addition to the faucets originally listed on Faucet Ally, other contributors were found that are also paying.  These have been added to the end of the Faucet Ally page.

(NOTE: Image links are provided tonight because it seems my server isn’t always serving them to you, sorry for any hassle, but wanted to show you certain pics today)

I am now at click 57 in ITB because I realized this blog article couldn’t be written till I updated Faucet Alley!  Eesh!  To complete one task, another has to be completed first.  Kind of feels like the domestic life of a house wife, compute repair tech, or network administrator!  The job’s never done.  Or so it seems.

Since March, I’ve been on the prowl for active, useful ways of spending what I earn.  Contrary to most BTC investors out there, I am actually wanting to use this as a form of currency that benefits my family.  The incredible rise in value over the course of the past year hasn’t hurt the effort either.  At first, I was going to stick with Xapo’s wallet because they have an integrated BTC debit card.  That changed when I discovered they don’t ship to Canada.  I am Canadian, so sadly, Xapo’s usefulness came to a screeching halt in this house!  I continued my faucet earnings, found BTC PTC sites that paid decently and added those to the daily mix, and continued my research.

Eventually push came to shove and I had to do something to keep my HPConnect InstantInk subscription paid up.  That was when I discovered Uquid.  At the time, they had a virtual credit card you could pre-load after sending over BTC to your Uquid wallet.  I sent over half my earnings at the beginning of August and had enough for two month’s payments in USD.  Uquid’s provider suddenly stopped working with them, sending the company scrambling for a new card provider for their customers.  I had to go get a pre-paid gift Mastercard to keep things rolling in the interim as I could no longer use the virtual card.

Continuing my earnings efforts meant earning back what I’d had before August by November 2017.  December would be the moment I’d been waiting for!  Uquid found another provider, AND this time, their physical card shipped to Canada!!! YES!!!  I completed my application for a physical card on December 20th and sent over half my earnings to cover the cost of the card.  Shipping is free BTW!  The Christmas holidays came and went and I sent in a query about the status of the card because it wasn’t showing up on my dashboard.  I sent that on December 30th.  The card arrived January 2nd!  Apparently, while the status had not been updating, the application had been approved and shipping took place during the New Year’s holiday weekend!  I was so surprised when DHL Courier showed up on my doorstep that day!

Going to buy these items with this card

Today however, I got to test the card at a POS terminal at a local thrift store.  My daughter didn’t like the idea of me testing at a gas pump or grocery store, although I intend on using my BTC for that too.  So we went to Value Village and picked up a few items that were on my “to get” list.  I need to replace my cookie sheets, so we found one on the shelf today and grabbed it.  Turns out its insulated! Nice!  I’m also looking for a knitting hoop so I figure out how to knit grass.  If the experiment is a success, I will have a new way to make baskets while I try to reteach myself basket-weaving in general.  Rest assured, there will be blog posts here about that journey as I continue learning how to do things at home to cut costs while living better than if I was spending money I don’t have downtown.  Also found a replacement lid for my medium-sized saucepan.  So it was off to the till.

Screenshot-2018-1-9 Uquid card UQUID

I don’t know if it was the card’s chip, or the card terminal, but the terminal claimed the chip couldn’t be read.  The Uquid card comes with Tap-to-pay enabled, so I tried that instead and the transaction went through flawlessly.  It should be noted that the card’s currency denominations are in USD.  They don’t have CAD in their list of currencies supported for everyday transactions.  This made me curious how my transaction list would look when I got home and logged into my account.

Tap to pay

The transaction was listed as having been successfully completed, but the card balance was higher than I thought it should be.  That’s when I remembered the exchange rate between USD and CAD.  But even with the fee Uquid charges to handle that exchange on the back-end, I was pleasantly surprised to have basically earned on that purchase!  See screenshots for details.

math balance

I earned roughly $1.22 in exchange, fees included, from today’s purchase.  As I click through site 87 on ITB, I am quite happy with that discovery!

Needless to say, I have found a very workable end-to-end system for earning, saving, and spending BTC!  The bigger way to generate the earnings is through InfinityTrafficBoost.  The savings account earning interest is through, and the spending wallet/pre-load card is over at Uquid.  I invite you to check out the presentation I’ve created showing the steps to engage in to make this all happen for your household.

10 Steps to Financial Freedom

BTC pay to click and ITB will be the better ways to earn going forward.  I am still earning via a quartet of faucets I still keep active, but now I’m only doing it a couple hours or so per day instead of spending all day doing it.   These sites also let you obtain referrals and then reward you for their efforts, so that can speed up your progress exponentially if you are the type to rope in family, friends, coworkers etc.

But I sit here a very happy clicker, techie and single mother as I recount for you the path from nothing to something to spending.  You read that right, I did not spend a single dime on this path!  Not one!  Not even a digital penny went into any of this!  All I’ve invested is my time.  That’s all it can take for you as well, just your time.  So as I click through site 97 on ITB, I will close off the writing portion and start adding my graphics to show you what I’m talking about today.  I’d love to have you join me on this journey!

(PS: Pics are now added as I click through site 117 toward my 12th pool share as a TPO2 advertiser, again, nothing out-of-pocket for what I am doing!)

Picking Chokecherry

Berry Season Has Arrived! Finally!

Yes, finally!  We now have Oregon grape gracing our wild salads and it has been SO missed!  This week, we began bringing home chokecherry, a month later than it’s supposed to show up.  In fact, many trees still haven’t ripened yet.  We have two strains of chokecherry in the valley, picked one strain for the first time this week and it makes a very dark-coloured juice after boiling.  At first, I thought I’d boiled it way too long, but all that did was concentrate the flavour.  The second batch from that picking got boiled last night for the proper 5 minutes, and it was still that colour.

Black ChokecherryI like to use chokecherry in making vinegar for salads, pancake syrop, and using the leaves, dried crushed berries, and bark in teas and hot cocoa.  Chokecherry really adds to the richness of cocoa!  We don’t drink coffee, but when my daughter added some of the concentrate to a friend’s cup of coffee, supposedly it tasted really good.

While I was boiling the chokecherry last night, I paid a trip to the baking soda box as well, saving myself roughly $10 off grocery store pricing for toothpaste and facial scrub.  I also made another batch of anti-bacterial hand soap.  I have a jar of herbal infused vinegar in a corner of the counter for my next batch of vinegar hair rinse.  That will save another $3 roughly.  So all totaled, I’ve saved an estimated $15-$17 because of last night’s efforts.

We have half a turkey roaster filled with dried purslane to pound up, as well as more dried nettle to crush as well.  My daughter brought in more Mountain Sage to dry and we finally crushed our first round of dried narrow plantain leaf this week.  Broadleaf plantain is growing well finally!  Looking forward to gathering their seeds later this fall.  Gathering salsify roots to do more test boils.  See how the stringiness changes as the plants die.  Got three more on a hike a few days ago.  So foraging is slowly picking up steam.  Not a good year so far, but we’ll see what we can lay aside for the winter this year.  If the roots soften up decently, we’ll have a root veggie this winter, and if the false Solomon’s Seal berries thaw out nicely, we’ll have wild peas for dinners as well.  I need to test that theory now that we have a decent handful in the freezer.


Foraging and Friends: The Wild Adventure Continues. . .

Lovage leaves drying on the deckForaging in my part of the world has received quite the setback thanks to a very wet spring. The plantain plants are only now in enough abundance to start harvesting. Wild strawberries are several weeks behind as well. Domestically, we were blessed with a huge amount of Lovage, a cousin to the celery only stronger in flavour. I managed to dry and crush most of the leaves to make a very nice celery spice! After being given some salt, I intend to take some of it and turn it into Lovage celery salt.

RhubarbWe were also given some very nice Rhubarb that has already made one beautiful batch of pancake syrup and seen entrance into batches of scones and pancakes themselves. I plan to make several more batches of the syrup as that will save money having to buy it at the store. Not only will it save money at the store, it will cut down on the chemicals and preservatives being ingested as well.

Sometimes doing things yourself is not always a money-saver, healthier perhaps, but sometimes more expensive. Around this house, we are about both saving money AND eating healthier! So being able to make celery salt without the additives and make syrop without the extra ingredients as well, hits the best of both worlds.  Some of my readers might laugh, but I’ve decided to ensure I have enough sugar for baking, cereals, pancake syrop and a pine needle syrop intended for lung ailments.  I therefore divided up my current sugar stores into several containers!

Wild ParsleyWe have wild parsley growing up in the hills and have made two harvests so far. One has been nicely crushed into just under half a usual spice bottle. The other harvest still needs to be washed, dried, and crushed. It is currently in the back of the fridge freezing. Gotta love it when fridges do that, not merely their freezer boxes.

Wild Parley, Prairie Sage, Crushed Juniper BerriesWe also found Prairie Sage growing on the property where we live. It is a milder smelling sage than what is bought at the store, but still a pleasant smell. It’s first use has been in a bottle of home-made fly spray for the two horses.

That third bottle there on the counter is crushed juniper berries! When crushed and stored like that, it emits a very strong scent when the container is opened. I’ve already learned the hard way that when seasoning meat with it, a little goes a VERY long way! I look forward to experimenting a little bit this coming Canada Day as we cook up some lamb ribs we were given, and creating a stew-like sauce to go with them featuring elements such as diced lovage, wild parsley, crushed juniper among the usual onions and garlic. Yes, the foraging lifestyle has its own unique flavours.

Purslane HarvestOur dinner salads have finally come back full swing. Plantain, dandelion, false solomon’s seal, purslane, and finally chickweed and a ground vine for good measure. I need to make more chokecherry vinaigrette, but that won’t happen till we are harvesting those berries this summer. One major thing we learned over the winter months was that we hadn’t harvested nearly enough chokecherry to get us through till the next harvest season! We hope to change that sad state of affairs this summer!  Nor had we harvested enough purslane!  Needless to say when my daughter was asked to weed a garden at her place of work, she came home with a huge haul of both purslane AND chickweed!  Both have been divided in half for either immediate consumption or drying and crushing for use in teas, baking and medicine.

Chickweed in the Salad SpinnerNear our home and up a logging road, there are many chokecherry stands, so we hope to overrun the house with them until they are either boiled, frozen, or dried. Those same harvesting areas are also crawling in oregon grape, kinnickinnick, and surprisingly the wild strawberry as well. Our home could be very interesting as we end up with stuff drying all over the place at various times in the season.

Drying Nettle leavesAlready, we’ve harvested, dried, and begun putting to use the nettle in our area. Nettle gets used in baking, tea, shampoo, conditioner, and its seeds are also a wild seasoning. Again, we almost didn’t have enough once I began using it in crackers and more teas, so we need to get far more this year to last through until next Spring.

Yes, there were some lessons learned over the winter regarding how much we did or did not store up for ourselves! Hopefully this year we display learned behaviour on that front. It isn’t enough to pick only for one week. We are now picking such that we split each week’s harvest in half thanks to our salad fixings also being used for teas, medicines, baking, and hygiene products. So we take each salad harvest and dry half of it for current and future use.

By now, the rough estimate in savings is somewhere around $500 since last August. We have only bought dried cranberries and apple sauce this spring because our windfall apple harvest ran out in April and our berry vinaigrette ran out around March. If we do things correctly this year, we’ll reduce those store purchases even more next year.

Salad greens

Wild Adventures Part 8: A new foraging season has begun!

Spring has finally sprung in the Okanagan after a long cold winter that lasted through to the end of March.  It took awhile for the plants to get going as a result, but once they did, this household made a major surprise discovery!

Crown Land - creekLast November, we had to move yet again, for the second time in two years.  When we were house-hunting,  we reached a stage where it became humanly impossible to find a place to live.  We made up an impossible list of needs and preferences, then laid that before God.  Included in that prayer was the request to be near foraging grounds so we could continue our wild adventures.  FrontcounterBC had shown us that our new location was near crown land and when the snows began to recede, we began exploring.  That crown land is going to be a treasure trove of berries by the time June rolls around!  Its crawling with Oregon Grape, Kinnickinnick and Chokecherry!  We took a couple treks out to our old stomping grounds near the regional park and came home with one evening’s salad roughly.  But those weren’t the biggest surprise.

Salad greensThe grasses and hillside around our rental property began to grow and lo and behold. . . we are LIVING in the middle of a foraging ground!  Yarrow is growing in droves up on the hillside above us, along with barley (read quack) grasses and Arrowleaf Balsam Root.  However, down around our portion of the yard we didn’t give the horses, we have dandelion, chicory, alfalfa, and another salad leaf I am still trying to identify, growing in such abundance that we can have several days’ worth of mixed green salads in maybe 10 minutes of picking!  The alfalfa is blow-overs from the hay field below us.  As we are up on a hillside now, the dandelions are slower in getting their flowering heads up, but I saw one today.

If we want plantain, purslane, Solomon’s Seal and chickweed in our salads, we’ll still have to go elsewhere, but it was such a surprise to find so many salad greens growing right where we live!  We’ve already discovered that Yarrow leaves add to the flavour of salsa, prompting my daughter to think about making our own salsa in the future with Yarrow leaves added to it.  When you look up DIY and natural personal hygiene products, Yarrow comes up as often as chamomile, so I look forward to seeing what I can do with all those plants above our property!

Mixed wild salad greensIt’s nice to have the salads again as we discovered that winter salad teas, while they may have a similar nutrition count, are not as filling and were missing the phytochemicals that we need.

We estimate now, that between what I’ve spent preparing to make this lifestyle change, and what my daughter has spent preparing her horse for foraging, we have still saved ourselves over $300 since last August!  Thanks to the Okanagan being commercial orchard country, shopping in the woods may get us away from many of the chemicals found on foods in the grocery store, but not 100%.  It feels good to have better health without having to buy pills to get it, however.

Our wild adventures have resumed!

Wild Adventures Part 7: Drinkable Salads

They come in all shapes and sizes.  Some come with attitude, some come placidly.  But ALL are at the mercy of critters, birds, and now US!  Yes, the wild adventures continue as we realize summer is turning to fall in our neck of the woods, and we have to consider how we’ll continue trying to save money as plants wind down for the year.

The idea of drinking our salads came up in conversation and research turned to things that grow nearby that can be turned into tea with a bit of honey.  So far, we have three tea blends.  According to a book on edible plants of Canada, evergreen needles can be used in teas, just not every single day, particularly for one species of Pine.  It was interesting to see how this book spoke positively about Ponderosa Pine, while everyone else spoke negatively.  The only negative is that if you want to have kids, don’t ingest Ponderosa pine while pregnant, it contains an element that will abort the child.  Otherwise, all warnings seemed to pertain to various tanins.  Tea in general has tanins as well, with green tea having more tanin in it than black tea believe it or not, and the reason most teas are black is precisely because of the tanins in the water.  However you don’t see tanin warnings on boxes or bags of store-bought tea.

Thanks to schedules being what they’ve been lately, we haven’t had time to forage for our usual salad fixings, but one outing did give us a fair bit of tea fixings.  So we’ve been drinking our salads for the past week.

Two teas that have gone over well so far have the following ingredients:

You will need:

To serve in mugs for four or more people
Use two quart jars or of similar size

Tea #1

two or three juniper berries per jar
handful of fresh chopped apple per jar (half that for dried)
a couple pinches of mint per jar
three large pinches of crushed nettle
three or four large pinches of crushed chokecherry leaves
handful of fresh halved rosehips split between two jars (half that for dried)

Tea #2
two pinches of fir per jar
one clump of dried apple per jar
two small pinches of nettle per jar
one clump of dried kinnikinnick per jar
a few rose hips per jar
two or three pinches of chokecherry leaves per jar
a teaspoon or less of crushed dried chokecherries

Add the above ingredients to each jar.  Heat up your kettle.  Pour into jars and let steep while you start dinner, or pour into jars and let steep all night ahead of tomorrow’s dinner.

Simply add honey to taste.

Even a third tea recipe, and the first one we tried being a carbon copy of tea #1 above but with pine instead of mint, tasted not too bad.  All three of these combinations tasted better when the emptied jar’s tea components were dumped into the second partially-emptied jar’s water and allowed to steep in the fridge over night.  Dividing up the difference and adding hot water to melt the honey, gave the tea a mellower texture and allowed the flavours to infuse better.

We still plan on having our wild salads if we can get a few more foraging days in for green leafy additions.  But we’ve just entered the season for Juniper berries here, and will be foraging for more of those soon!

In other non-shopping news, the boxes of windfall apples we gathered awhile back are slowly getting processed.  We have four pie packets and three cobbler packets in the freezer.  We have several month’s worth of apple sauce in the freezer as well, and have begun drying chopped apple for use in tea, gerbil food, and my daughter’s pemmican experiments.

Yes, my daughter is making pemmican and made her third batch this week.  Apparently this third batch was the best so far.  She used a flour mix of coconut, acorn, chokecherry, and ground dried apple to toss with the ground up stew beef she cooked.  She threw in ground up dried purslane as well.  I think personally, that this will be the recipe she goes for in the future.

Preparing the Kinnikinnick for drying was an exercise in amusement!  I couldn’t help taking pictures and posting the following homemade meme to Facebook!

What looks, cores, bruises, and tastes like an apple but is NOT an apple?!After posting that meme, I turned on the oven the next day to actually dry them, then went to get my daughter from work.  Upon entering the house, she promptly declared the place smelled like apple pie!  I had neither seasoned, nor made apple pie, only dried the bearberries in the oven!  So not only do these little things look, taste, bruise, and core like miniature apples, they also smell like them!

We also managed to find more Oregon grape that hasn’t shriveled up yet.  Hopefully we’ll be able to harvest way more next year, but we didn’t know these were edible till late in the season.  We have a decent amount to keep us from buying dried cranberries for a little while, but not for the entire winter season sadly.

Another plant we need to keep bringing more home of before they die off for the year, is nettle!  That stuff, while a pain to harvest if you’re not careful, has so many uses in our hygiene and dietary requirements!  Both it and dandelion!  I haven’t mastered how to cook burdock leaves and flowers yet to add those to our salads or sauces, but apparently after cooking they taste like artichoke.   We’ll have to experiment more with that next spring.

Our own garden is slowly releasing stuff for us.  We are regularly harvesting basil and mint and those plants are making their way indoors.  Our purslane dirt bag has largely taken, though a few in the middle appear to have died.  The potatoe plants look almost ready for harvesting as well.  Attempts to grow comfrey plants from seed took half the year, but we now have tiny seedlings.  Comfrey will be used for medical purposes once it grows big enough.  We may also try growing our own kinnikinnick over the winter and see how that experiment turns out.

Shopping in the woods has led to the discovery that not everything about a given plant is known by everyone, and we are having to piece information together.  Eventually I need to start recording what I know of each plant and making posts about those, then updating them as I learn new things.  Needless to say, these wild adventures aren’t ending anytime soon.

Wild Adventures with Marilynn Dawson

Wild Adventures Part 6: Processing Continued. . .

Home tea blendI sit here tonight drinking a test cup of nettle, dandelion, chokecherry leaves, semi-crushed dried berries and stems, and homegrown mint leaves and stems.  I mixed one part dandelion to two parts of everything else more or less, and one part mint roughly.  The resulting tea had a very grassy taste with a decidedly nettle scent, but with a bit of honey, tastes very mellow.  Not bad as it grows on you.  That mix of tea is now in a little labelled container up in the tea cupboard.  There’s enough chokecherry crushed to make tea for a long time this winter!  Nettle has a decent amount in the cupboard too, but I only had enough dandelion root for the blend I put together this evening.

infused shampooThe first bottle of infused shampoo is in the shower now as well, along with infused facial scrub and leave-in conditioner.  We also made more of the chokecherry vinegar as well, meaning I need to pay back the VISA for yet more buckets of salad mix and salad dressing.  I also need to pay back the VISA for a second bottle of shampoo as shortly, all of us will be using the same shampoo instead of different bottles.  I’m looking forward to updating that spreadsheet needless to say!

The flour attempt with dried rice pulp resulted in very fine almost salt-like granules coming out of the grain mill.  Trying to crack dried chokecherries with the hand grain mill threatened to tear up the countertop, so we resorted to pounding in the mortar instead.  Eventually I was able to use the mill to break the berries down further, but only got them so far.  Using a metal strainer, we managed to get maybe half a cup or more of chokecherry flour to date.

The first batch along with the rice made about one cup that I threw into the breadmaker using the basic white loaf recipe.  The resulting loaf proved dense, meaning I probably should have chosen the whole wheat bread recipe instead, but otherwise, the loaf did not taste much different than normal.  I’ll be testing again soon.  The second reason for denseness may be due to the fact the chokecherry flour has no gluten in it.  We’ll see how the next loaf goes.  We have lots of dried berries to crack and grind now!  We’ll have to see how much flour we actually get out of it.  Rumour has it this flour can be used in place of corn starch for thickening soups and sauces.  I’ll have to try that out soon too.

infused facial cleanser and conditionerFacial cleanser, shampoo, conditioner, tooth paste, window cleaner, bathroom cleaner, tea, salad dressing, salad greens. . . all a mix of foraging, vinegar, baking soda, and more liquid glycerin soap than I thought I’d end up making. . . eucalyptus oil thrown in here and there for good measure. . . eventually I’ll be able to clean both the house and myself using far fewer chemicals!  The wild salads have more nutrition in them than what we were doing before as well.  Add to that saving money on those aspects of grocery shopping, and it’s a win, win, win situation.

Chokecherry harvesting with Marilynn Dawson

Wild Adventures Part 5: Chokecherry Escapades!

The wild adventures continue!  This past week, my daughter and I brought home quite a bit more chokecherry than we’d originally planned!  The original plan was to get nettle, and it took several days even before THAT came home.  But the day we intended to get nettle, we realized a huge stand of chokecherries in the same spot, were literally loaded with ripe, dark purple berries!  We still had to finish picking the berries off the leaves and twigs in the bag from the past weekend, so we sat down to see exactly how much had come home!

The previous weekend’s haul was laid out on trays to dry.  The second haul filled two medium mixing bowls, or one ice cream pail!  The picture above shows a larger bowl on the left, which was laid out to dry on cookie sheets, and the two medium bowls that filled the ice cream pail later that night.  Those bowls of leaves and twigs are being pounded down for use in loose-leaf tea.  Not all the twigs can be used, but smaller ones are kept in the mix.  Those bowls are still drying as we speak.  I crushed some into the storage bag already, but most of it is still drying out.

I decided to try my hand at making grape-chokecherry jelly, following instructions for chokecherry jelly.  I almost made candy instead!  I have a jar of very solid jelly that nearly broke a butter knife when I tried to get some out of the jar after it cooled!  I’m now thinking of warming it up to hopefully either “water it down” or add eucalyptus powder to it and drop it onto plastic wrap to make my own “soft” lozenges.

Nettle leavesWe did eventually get the nettle, bringing home a full grocery bag’s worth of leaves and stalks.  Taking care to pick them clean of the stalks resulted in filling a salad spinner!  The wet leaves didn’t take up much room, but as the leaves were spun dry, they fluffed out to fill the entire thing!  I’m looking forward to making some infusions with the nettle, one of which I will try drinking as a way of assisting my adrenal health, hair, etc.  We’ll see how it goes.  I don’t know if we picked enough for the full experiment, or if it will be “as supplies allow”, but we’ll see.

This picture was after one of my cookie trays came available and I took some of the leaves to spread out to dry.  I’ll spread out more as more of my sheets come available.  I was reminded of a few trays I forgot I’d hidden in the laundry room, so need to pull those out and press them into action.

My attempt to soak a burdock tuber did NOT soften the bark.  I had let it soak for at least two maybe three weeks, but all I succeeded in doing was drawing out the oils in the root, and infusing the water.  So I threw out the root and poured the water into a jug for use in some of the other products we plan to make around the house.  The other two roots as a result may end up going the same way.

We’re doing a lot of “play it by ear” right now.  It seems as I’ve read various blogs on foraging and processing, that every single blogger out there has gone down the same path in some fashion.  Figure out what you want, find what you need to make what you want, locate recipes or create your own, find out what works and what doesn’t, stick with what works and move on.

We are still quite near the beginning of this path.  Some stuff has worked out already, some stuff still has to be created and tested.  Some stuff has been tried and worked while others have failed.  The jelly idea being one of the failures.

We will be entering fall soon.  I’m not sure how much money will be saved over the winter months this year, but as the saying goes, the adventure continues. . .