Thursday, February 28, 2013

Stepping out of the Garden: My Journey #10

Good Morning!  I love all of the 300+ bloggers that I regularly stalk follow.  I love that every holiday means new craft ideas and fun recipes.  My favorites are the homestead/DIY posts that I can really get into.

Me!  April 2012
But here's the thing, I'm trying to slim down and get back in Bikini Shape since spring is here (where I am) and summer feels like just a few days away.  
I want to look like that pic on the right again!!!
There is NO way I'm going to ruin all of that hard work with cakes and cupcakes.  For now I'll just drool over your creations.

Over at Mary's Kitchen I shared my first post on Foods to fight Inflammation.  Since I work in the medical field I have learned that (simply put) Inflammation causes disease.  Disease means "any impairment of normal physiological function affecting all or part of an organism, esp a specific pathological change caused by infection, stress, etc., producing characteristic symptoms; illness or sickness in general"

I detox my body internally through a specific food regime once or twice a year.  We eat healthy throughout the year and "cheat" every now and then.  But I never gave much thought about my skin.  Did you know that your skin is the largest organ of your body?  It's true.

So to help myself get "Bikini Ready" I started using the It Works! Wraps.  I LOVE it!!!  Below is a quick video to show what it is.

If you're interested in trying the wrap you can check out my website or send me an email to

The ingredients in the Ultimate Body Applicator promote Lipolysis, detoxify the cell, improve microcirculation and reduce Inflammation.

Do you want to see where I started?  My first Journey Post
You might also like:
10 Foods for Flat Abs 
Food for thought and Weight loss (part 1)
Food for thought and Weight loss (part 2)  
Cleansing Cruciferous Salad 

Slim Down with Mary!!!  Join me on my Journey!
**My next Journey post will include a fellow blogger also on a Journey** 
UPDATE: Results are posted at Mary's Kitchen

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My Top 5 Veggies and Companion Planting

This is a quick and easy list of my top 5 easiest veggies to grow and a short description of their companion plants.  I sent our this information in a newsletter.  If you have not yet signed up you can send me a private email to with the subject "Newsletter."


Back in December I asked all of you what YOU would like to see in our weekly/monthly newsletters.  So far I've shared  Container Gardening (part 1 and 2), along with Composting basics and New Arrival announcements.

Brand NEW items:  Rosemary,  "Allergy",  Chamomile and "Flashes"
Tincture Kits are NOW available!
***Seed Specials and Announcement below!!!***

Companion Planting Made Simple - Top 5

Below is a list of our top 5 varieties. 

Companion planting means based around the idea that certain plants can benefit others when planted next to, or close to one another.
Companion planting exists to benefit certain plants by giving them pest control, naturally without the need to use chemicals, and in some cases they can give a higher crop yield .

You can find a complete list of Companion plants at Back to the Basics.

Companions-asparagus, basil, bean, Borage, carrots, celery, chive, cucumber, dill, garlic, head lettuce, marigold, mint, nasturtium, onion, parsley, pea, pepper, marigold, pot marigold and sow thistle. One drawback with tomatoes and carrots: tomato plants can stunt the growth of your carrots but the carrots will still be of good flavor. Borage deters tomato worm, improves growth and flavor.

Enemies- corn and tomato are attacked by the same worm. Kohlrabi stunts tomato growth. Keep potatoes and tomatoes apart as they both can get early and late blight contaminating each other. Keep apricot, dill, fennel, cabbage and cauliflower away from them. 

Sweet Peppers: tomatoes, parsley, basil, geraniums, marjoram, lovage, petunia and carrots, onions. Don't plant them near fennel or kohlrabi.

Hot Peppers: Chili peppers have root exudates that prevent root rot and other Fusarium diseases. Tomato plants, green peppers, and okra are good protection for them. Teas made from hot peppers can be useful as insect sprays. Hot peppers like to be grouped with cucumbers, eggplant, escarole, tomato, okra, Swiss chard and squash. Herbs to plant near them include: basils, oregano, parsley and rosemary. Never put them next to any beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts or fennel.

Companions: beets, broccoli, bush beans, pole beans, carrots, cucumbers, onion, radish and strawberries. Keep lettuce away from cabbage.
Chard: bean, cabbage family, tomato, onion and roses. Don't grow chard near cucurbits, melons, corn or herbs. Plant dill and parsnips away from carrots.

Spinach: peas and beans as they provide natural shade for the spinach. Gets along with cabbage, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, onion, peas, strawberries and squash.

Companions: corn and beans, peas, beets, radishes and carrots. Radishes are a good deterrent against cucumber beetles.
Dill planted with cucumbers helps by attracting beneficial predators. Nasturtium improves growth and flavor.
Keep sage, potatoes and rue away from cucumbers.

Companions:  amaranth, beans, peas, spinach, tarragon, thyme and marigold.
Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family and does well with peppers as they like the same growing conditions.

Have you enjoyed them so far?  If you missed any of them or they were "lost in the mail" just let me know and I'd be happy to send you a copy.
Below are all new seeds specials and NEW stuff over at Mary's Heirloom Seeds!
Do you have additional questions or suggestions for future newsletters? 
Let us know what you think!

Have you ever considered making your own herbal remedies?
Do you already make your own herbal "medicine"?
Brand NEW items: Rosemary, "Allergy", Chamomile and "Flashes" Tincture Kits are NOW available!
**Order before March 10th and get a pack of Basil seeds FREE**

Seed Specials Feb 26th-March 10th
Long Island Brussels Sprouts, Black Beauty Eggplant, Snowball Self-blanching Cauliflower, 5 Color Silverbeet Swiss Chard,
Tom Thumb Lettuce and Emerald Green Tomatoes.

*Linking up HERE and Wildcrafting Wednesday*

Monday, February 25, 2013

More info on Tinctures and Herbs

I wrote a post titled "What is a Tincture?" Explained.  I realized after a few tincture recipe posts that not everyone is familiar with tonics, tinctures and salves. These are simple herbal remedies.

The most simple explanation of a tincture is an herbal extract.  I love the Fresh Basil Tincture we made! Ever made Vanilla Extract using vanilla beans and vodka?  It's that simple.  Or is it...

Rosemary Tincture
Herbal tinctures can be dangerous if you don't know which herbs cannot be ingested but instead used in a salve, or that chamomile should not be taken while pregnant.  Luckily, the world wide web AND the library are fantastic resources for beginners.

The good news is that many of the most common herbs (especially those you cook with) have wonderful health benefits and are safe to use both in your food as well as tinctures.  Still not sure about herbal remedies?  Do you drink "sleepy time tea" or some other commercial form of tea?  That's an herbal remedy!

Oregano and Rosemary both contain anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant properties.
Basil is great for inflammation.
Thyme has disease fighting nutrients.
This is just the beginning of what these herbs have to offer our bodies and Tinctures are a way to extract the goodies!

Herbal Kit
Now for the bottom line...saving money!  If you look at your local "health food store" you will find tinctures.  Most are $10-$40 per ounce.  Online it is the same story plus shipping.  Pictured is a special "kit" I put together to get started on your tincture.  
It includes a jar, herb (you choose), a filter to strain out the herbs, labels for your jars AND a 2 ounce dropper bottle with label.
Add your "base" of alcohol or glycerin and you've got 5-24 ounces of homemade tincture (depending on the recipe!
Earlier this month I purchased a large bottle of 100 proof vodka for $17.  I then made 6 tinctures using 2 ounces of herbs and 12-16 ounces of vodka and I still have more vodka left (maybe for 2 more).

Let's do the math
Tincture Kit (2 ounces of herb) from Mary's Basics $19.75
Shipping $6
16 ounces of 100 proof vodka (approx)  $2.14
Total spent for 16 ounces of Tincture  $27.89
Homemade: Total spent for 2 ounces $3.49

Online store selling 2 ounces of Rosemary Tincture  $15.39
Shipping $6
Store-Bought: Total for 2 ounces: $21.39

Chamomile Tincture Kit
HUGE savings!!!  Plus, with the Tincture Kit you have the Jar, Strainer top and  detailed Instructions to make more! Kits ship within 24 hours (except weekends and holidays) via Priority Mail.

Not sure about the alcohol contentThe alcohol in a tincture can be evaporated out by adding the drops to almost boiling water and swirling until cool. Although a glycerin base tincture has a short shelf life, it can be used instead of alcohol for those who prefer an alternative.

If you have additional questions please feel free to ask.  I am not a professional herbalist, just a health-conscience, DIY girl sharing the knowledge I learn.  Thanks for stopping by!

Depending on the day I'm linking at these Fabulous Parties!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Homemade "Flashes" Tincture recipe

This is an herbal remedy that I'm not quite ready for but I know there are quite a few women out there that would love to have a bit of relief from those power surges.

The "Flashes" herbal mixture from Mary's Tincture Shop makes a perfect combo tincture.  Herbs include organic Motherwort herb, organic Sage, organic Dandelion leaf, organic Chickweed, organic Elder flowers, organic Violet leaf, and organic Oatstraw.  This particular mix can be used to brew a tea but is stronger when made as a tincture.

"Flashes" herb mix
"Flashes" Tincture Recipe  
1 ounce Flashes herb mixture 
5-8 ounces 100 proof vodka 
(80 proof is okay if that's all you have)

*The Flashes Tincture Kits includes a large glass jar, 
1 or 2 ounces of herbs (you choose), strainer top, 
1- 2 ounce amber bottle with dropper and 2 customizeable labels.*

Add herbs to a clean/sterilized jar.  Cover with vodka (or everclear).  Cover and place in a dark area or cabinet.

Shake every other day.  Tincture will be ready in 6 weeks. 

Dosage: varies per person.  Start out slow when trying any new herbs or herbal combinations.  1-2 ml up to 3 times per day.

Disclaimer:  Not a substitute for professional medical prevention, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician, pharmacist, or health care provider before taking any home remedies or supplements or following any treatment suggested by anyone on this site. Only your health care provider, personal physician, or pharmacist can provide you with advice on what is safe and effective for your unique needs or diagnose your particular medical history.

Looking for more Tincture Recipes?
Cayenne Tincture
Chamomile Tincture

Fresh Basil Tincture
Allergy Tincture
Feverfew Tincture
Rosemary Tincture   

Almost hit 250 likes on Mary's FB page.  
Announcing a giveaway once we hit 250!  Spread the word! 

dependi ng on the day, I'm linking up HERE.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Homemade Rosemary Tincture Recipe

Just this morning I added 2 more
 DIY Tincture Kits at Mary's Tincture Shop: Organic Rosemary and Organic "Flashes" (self-explanatory)

This week I shared the Health benefits of Rosemary and now I'll share my Rosemary Tincture recipe.  It's very simple to make your own herbal remedies.  If this is your first time, Please read "What is a Tincture?" Explained.  It's SO easy!!!

Homemade Rosemary Tincture
Rosemary Tincture

1 ounce dried Rosemary
5-7 ounces 100 proof vodka or Everclear
*DO NOT use rubbing alcohol*

Add Rosemary to your jar.  Cover with Alcohol.

Add enough alcohol to your jar to cover the herbs, plus another inch.  I prefer Everclear, especially for fresh herbs.  Cover with a lid.  Shake every other day.

Label your jar with date and ingredients.  Place in a cool, dark place for 4-6 weeks. Once your tincture is ready, strain through a coffee filter or cheesecloth into a dark (amber) jar.  If you do not have a dark jar, leave in a dark place.

Dosage for adults: Take up to 2ml, three times per day.

Disclaimer:  Not a substitute for professional medical prevention, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician, pharmacist, or health care provider before taking any home remedies or supplements or following any treatment suggested by anyone on this site. Only your health care provider, personal physician, or pharmacist can provide you with advice on what is safe and effective for your unique needs or diagnose your particular medical history.

Looking for more Tincture Recipes?
Cayenne Tincture
Chamomile Tincture
Fresh Basil Tincture
Allergy Tincture 
Feverfew Tincture 

Depending on the day I'm linking up HERE

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Health benefits of Thyme

Do you cook with Thyme?  Do you grow it?  We love it!!!  Some of our favorite "cooking herbs" also have amazing properties for health.  Mother Nature provides all of the medicine we need if we just take the time to learn, grow and preserve.  

At the bottom of this post is a list of "healthy" herbs that I've shared over the years.  And, if you're looking for organic Thyme seeds, check out Mary's Heirloom Seeds.
Growing Thyme

Did you know that 2 teaspoons of Thyme contains 60% of the recommended daily value of Vitamin K?  It's true!  Not only is Thyme fragrant and delicious, it's good for you!

Thyme contains a powerful oil rich in Thymol, which is known to have antiseptic and anti-fungal properties.  Thyme also contains nutrients such as B-complex vitamins, beta carotene, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin C and folic acid.  Thyme also contains manganese, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium and selenium.

According to Nutrition and You: Thyme provides 0.35 mg of vitamin B-6 or pyridoxine; furnishing about 27% of daily recommended intake. Pyridoxine keeps up GABA (beneficial neurotransmitter in the brain) levels in the brain, which has stress buster function. Vitamin C helps the human body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.  Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant that is required maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and is also essential for vision. Consumption of natural foods rich in flavonoids like vitamin A and beta-carotene helps protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.

From what I have read, Thyme has no negative side effects and is entirely safe to use.  Score!

So how do you grow it?

Thyme seeds are tiny. I recommend sprinkling over damp soil and then adding a fine layer over your seeds.

Plant thyme seeds in early spring about 6-8 seeds per “hole”.  If planting in volume, mix sand with the seed to prevent overplanting.

Read about Companion Planting to get the best results in your herb and veggie garden.  Thyme deters cabbage worms!

Once your seedlings emerge, plant your Thyme no closer than 8 inches apart. Young plants should be set out in the garden in June, preferably in damp ground or just prior to rain.

More Beneficial Herbs:
Mugwort  *AMAZING herb for Women's Health*
Cayenne Pepper  *Not an herb but still good for you*

And the list continues to grow!!!  Stay tuned for more...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Health Benefits of Rosemary

At the moment the garden is growing, the seedlings are resting out on the back porch and I'm working on more tincture recipes (when I'm not filling seeds orders from Mary's Heirloom Seeds).

I thought now would be a good time to share all of the wonderful benefits of Rosemary.  Did you get a chance to check out my recipe for  
Herb Bread at Mary's Kitchen?  Well I tweaked it this weekend and used semi-dried homegrown Rosemary instead of the Italian seasoning... WOW!!!  Definitely gonna make it again.
You can find a Rosemary Tincture kit at Mary's Tincture Shop.
Rosemary plant

Some of the benefits of consuming Rosemary are relief from abdominal pain, Insomnia, gout, cephalagia and as an antiseptic (and so much more).

From Live and Feel:
"Among the main properties of rosemary we can enumerate: analgesic, antiseptic, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, antiviral, aphrodisiac, disinfectant. Its active elements have choleric, antiseptic, diuretic and tonic aspects at a nervous level, stimulating bile secretion and eliminating it in the intestines, destroying microorganisms, increasing the quantity of eliminated urine, improving the blood flow and refreshing and energizing the mind. Apart from this, scientific researches indicate that rosemary is an ideal memory stimulant for both adults and students. Rosemary contains a series of secondary elements such as carnosol and carnosic acid, with a reflecting action in case of free radicals. Rosemary also has calming effects by working against fatigue, sadness, anxiety, calming muscle soreness, digestive pains and also, indigestion caused by stress."

Dried Rosemary
Adding Rosemary to your favorite recipe or salad dressing is the simplest way to consume rosemary.  Another option is to make a tea or tincture using fresh or dried herb.  I'll get to the tincture recipe next time but the tea is simple.

Rosemary Tea

1 teaspoon rosemary herbs
8 ounces boiling water

Steep the rosemary for 5 minutes or longer, depending on the strength of tea.   Rosemary blends well with other teas such as lavender rosemary, or thyme rosemary herbal tea.

Find more Benefits of Herbs!  Stay tuned for more recipes.

Linking up HERE!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Open Pollinated Seeds

ALL of the seed varieties that I plant in my garden and offer at Mary's Heirloom Seeds are open-pollinated!!!  My garden seed varieties are also organic, untreated, non-gmo and heirlooms.
Ace 55 Tomato
I'm serious about seeds!  I just sent out our newsletter this week with $2 seed pack offers.  Seriously!

According to Wikipedia, "Open pollination is pollination by insects, birds, wind, or other natural mechanisms, and contrasts with cleistogamy, closed pollination, which is one of the many types of self pollination.[1] Open pollination also contrasts with controlled pollination, which is controlled so that all seeds of a crop are descended from parents with known traits, and are therefore more likely to have the desired traits.
The seeds of open-pollinated plants will produce new generations of those plants; however, because breeding is uncontrolled and the pollen (male parent) source is unknown, open pollination may result in plants that vary widely in genetic traits. Open pollination may increase biodiversity."
Cal Wonder Bell Peppers
 Planting open-pollinated, heirloom seeds will allow you to save seeds from you harvest to grow more fruits, veggies and herbs next year and for generations. 

Varieties like the Calabrese Broccoli "An Italian heirloom that was brought to America in the 1880s, 5-8" heads and many side shoots"or the French Breakfast Radish "A pre-1885 French heirloom" are survivors!
French Breakfast Radish
 $2 Seed Pack sale varieties include: Arugula, Long Island Brussels Sprouts, Black Beauty Eggplant, Call Wonder Bell and Serrano Peppers, Ace 55 and Roma Tomatoes as well as Genovese Basil.
**Check out Mary's Heirloom Seeds for details** 

All of the seeds listed are untreated, heirloom seeds.
Mary has signed the Safe Seed pledge. 
All seeds are organic, open-pollinated, non-gmo and non-hybrid.
Free shipping on all Seed orders! 
Seed Orders placed Monday-Friday are shipped within 24 hours, except for holidays.
If you are looking for rare seed varieties that are not listed please send an email

and we'll try to accommodate you.

Order herb and veggie varieties together and get
an extra free seed pack!

 Happy Planting!

*I almost forgot...please "like" Mary on facebook*

When I hit 250 I'm announcing a giveaway! (35 to go)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Growing Zucchini

The other day I was thinking...Wouldn't it be nice to hear from someone else for a change?  I'd love to see what you are up to in the garden and what works for your area.  I met Joyce through a giveaway I sponsored with Mary's Heirloom Seeds and I am thrilled to introduce you. 
I'm currently stalking her at It's Your Life!

Let's give a warm welcome to Joyce!

This is the first time I am growing zucchini from a seed, and as it started to sprout, it reminded me of Audrey 2 from the movie “Little Shop of Horrors,” so now that is her name. Like Audrey 2 I thought I was going to lose my first zucchini plant. I noticed the roots were growing up out of the soil, and had to adjust her two different times before she started sprouting.

Audrey 2 has grown so fast in just under a month, and while she is ready to be transplanted into the garden there is not one. We have had so muchhhhh rain here on the North Shore of Louisiana the ground is to wet to do anything. Once again fearing for my first zucchini plant I knew I had to do something.  I had a bigger home for her, and therefore moved her until her final home is ready.

Because the weather here is still cool, not cold just cool, I had to be careful that I did not bring trauma to Audrey2. I cleaned out the planter, filled it with soil, and brought into the house until it was the same temperature as the soil she was in. The roots were already poking through the starter planter, so I cut off what I could without harming the roots, and transplanted her to her new home. 

You can buy a soil thermometer at a local store carrying gardening items, because it does not get real cold here we were unable to purchase one. We just went by touch, and the transplant was a success.

I will incorporate Audrey 2 into our garden in place of squash in the Three Sister’s Garden method. It was after reading Mary’s blog on this topic that I really became interested (obsessed) with companion planting.

Corn will benefit from the zucchini’s prickly leaves which will help to deter raccoons, and other animals seeking to snack on your corn. I will also be planting some borage with my zucchini which not only attracts bees, but the leaves can be used as mulch around the zucchini for calcium. Some potted peppermint will help to keep away aphids, I will use a shepherd’s hook to hang the peppermint, dill also repeals aphids, along with squash bugs, and whiteflies.

Planting marigold throughout the garden will not only attract bees, but also ward off a variety of pests. Nasturtiums also benefit the garden as marigold, but the flowers are edible and said to have a sharp radish type taste.

For the most part you can plant any other plants with zucchini except potatoes which inhibits its growth.
Here are some links to some of my favorite zucchini recipes:
Zucchini Pizza Crust
Zucchini Cakes
Zucchini Pizza Bites
Zucchini Bake with Feta and Thyme 
Zucchini Tots *I would use 1/2 cup of bread crumbs as I found them too mushy using 1/4 cup
Baked Zucchini Fries

Note that I have purchased the majority of my seeds from Mary’s Heirloom Seeds. I love the fact that all her seeds are GMO free, this is my personal opinion I am not receiving anything for stating this.

Interested in being a Guest?
Send me an email to
Happy Planting!
Linking up HERE and Wildcrafting Wednesday.

I might be obsessed with Heirloom Seeds

Extra Dwarf Pak Choy
There's no might...I AM!

Over the 2 years I've been operating Mary's Heirloom Seeds I have added so many new varieties.  I first started with a few tomato varieties, a few squash and a handful of herbs.

NOW, it's grown!  Today I just added a whole new page just for Heirloom Pepper seeds!

There are so many unique varieties and I'm so excited to grow them.
Peat Pellets make seed-starting easy!

Genovese Basil
I'd like to highlight a brand new seed combo pack:
Grow Your Own Herbal "Medicine" Kit 
This combo pack includes 7 herb varieties AND 15 peat pellets to get your garden started out right!

This includes 1 full pack of the following varieties:
Genovese Basil, Calendula, Echinacea Purpurea
, German Chamomile, Mugwort, Oregano and Yarrow 

Borage is a great companion herb for Tomatoes
I recently added a Microgreens Combo Pack!  
Time get growing no matter where you live and even if you don't have a garden!