My Love Affair With Calendula, part I

Calendula FlowersMy first introduction to calendula (Calendula officinalis) was in the late 1990s when I was living in Ireland. I worked at a factory as a floater, and would switch between production lines making circuit boards, and testing finished products, soldering wires, folding cardboard boxes for packaging, and basically anything else that was needed. My hands were constantly working, and would dry out easily. Nothing could keep them moisturized, and the combination of using them so much and their constant dryness left my hands covered with tiny cuts. 

They hurt.

Finally, after weeks of dry, irritated, and cut-up hands, I walked to the local herb store and asked for any suggestions.

"Calendula oil!" was the unanimous answer.

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DIY: Herbal Infused Honey

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DIY Herbal Infused HoneyI love honey.

Light or dark, liquid or crystallized, in my tea or right off the spoon. I love it. 

Not only is it delicious, but it can ease sore throats and coughs from scratchy throats, and many people find eating local honey during allergy season relieves their symptoms. 

During the winter, plain honey can be useful to ease symptoms of coughs and colds, especially when added to warm herbal teas, but becomes especially helpful when infused with herbs.

Every year I make my Winter Thyme Elixir, a herbal-infused honey to ward off colds and flus. While I can't give away all my secrets, I'm going to teach you how to make your own infused honeys that can be added to teas, yogurt, desserts, smoothies, or taken by the spoonful. Infused honeys also make a great gift for family and friends.

Just like other DIY projects, the more you experiment, the more confident you'll become, and the easier it will be to create new recipes for yourself. To start out, I will teach you how to make a ginger and elderberry honey.

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A Quote for You. Yes, You.

The Things They Carried by Tim OBrienLast week I was in my local coffeehouse picking up a drink. While waiting for it to be made, I looked at their bulletin board, and among the flyers and business cards I found a small folded up note.

On the front, it said "a quote for you". On the back, "yes, you". I love things like this, so I immediately pulled it down and opened it up.

Here is the quote I found inside:

Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can't remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.

Along with this quote was another message; a clue to a second note. A mysterious scavenger hunt! The second note would at my local public library, inside the book the quote was from.

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It's 11pm and I Have Nothing to Write About

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Blog ChallengesI've been sitting on my deck for the last three hours, thinking of something to write for today's blog. I've been trying to stick with a theme for each day to help keep me generate ideas. Today's theme is Top Five Friday, so I went back and forth on what to write about. I have a few topics in mind, but some require research, and after a full day of work, then a dinner out with my husband, I was only left with a few hours to write, and a few hours is not enough to write anything requiring research. Time for writing a blog today is running out.

I decided to write a just-for-fun blog and tell you my top five favorite Etsy stores right now, but I couldn't pick just five. I chose a theme (botany) and still couldn't pick five. There are a lot of amazing makers out there. Meanwhile, time is running out.

I'm sitting on my deck in a t-shirt and skirt, in New Hampshire, in November. It's 11:00 at night, and just a few minutes ago I put on a hoodie.

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Animal Ingredients Hidden in Your Food

Animal Ingredients Hidden in Your FoodFollowing a diet or lifestyle that minimizes or eliminates animal cruelty is not always easy when it comes to prepared food, whether that food is packaged or made in a kitchen. While we can usually find dishes not centered around animals when eating out, the terms vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian are so commonly confused, it's difficult to know whether or not our food has been contaminated. It's always a risk anyone who is a veg/an must take is we want to eat at restaurants, but something we can control is knowing what animal ingredients are common additives in our food.

Even if you don't follow an animal-restricted diet, you might be interested to know whether you're eating bugs or animal stomachs, so you can be aware and choose whether or not to eat them.

Here are some animal-based ingredients, under other names, that are commonly found in food:

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On Being Nice.

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Never Mistake Kindness for Weakness or Harshness for StrengthI've always been "nice". 

To some people that means kind, to some that means boring, to some a pushover, and to some fake. To me, it's a choice I make in an attempt to make other people's lives just a little less difficult. 

Because, as we all know, life is beautiful but it's also tough. If given a choice, nobody should be making it tougher for someone else.

I'm not always nice. I have bad days. I slip up. I can let others get under my skin and allow myself to be pushed too far. There are times I snap at people, both the ones I love and perfect strangers. Times when I just can't handle any more rudeness from another person. 

But I don't like when that happens. I don't like when I snap.

Letting other people's negativity get the best of me is not how I want to live my life. 

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DIY Easy Body Sugar Scrubs

Easy DIY Sugar ScrubThe cool weather and dry air of the fall can be tough on skin. Between things like artificial heat indoors lowering the humidity in the air, cooler temps changing our diets to include more hearty and less water-based foods, and the lack of moisture-giving green plants outside, our skin tends to dry out easily in cooler weather. Dry skin not only looks ashy and dull, but can lead to cracks and tiny cuts. Regular exfoliation with body scrubs keep your skin fresh, healthy, and smooth.

Oil-based scrubs condition your skin and help seal in moisture, while also removing dead, dry surface skin cells. Although there are many amazing body scrubs on the market, you can make a quick one yourself at home. Homemade single-use scrubs can be mixed up in just a few minutes, and you probably have plenty of scrub ingredients in your kitchen already.

You'll need just a few basic ingredients, and kitchen items: a bowl, a spoon, and some measuring cups or spoons.

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Christmalloween and the Dilemma of Selling.

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ChristmalloweenIt's Nov. 2nd. 

Just two days after Halloween. It's still the season; the second day of Day of the Dead is today. At my house, we still have "candles" (battery operated) lit in the small pumpkins hanging from a tree in our front yard. Metal jack-o-lanterns are still lighting our walkway. The ceramic jack-o-lantern I've had since I was a child, the kind with a light bulb inside, is still lighting my front window. 

There are more than three whole weeks until Thanksgiving. 35 days until Hanukkah. 49 days until winter solstice. 52 entire days until Christmas. 

But, I've fallen behind. Because I'm only just starting to plan my Wunder Budder holiday offerings. 

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SOS - Help Me, This Blog Challenge is Killing Me!

Stock Photo Man

Ok, that's a little dramatic. 

But I feel like I can't write another word.

Maybe it's because I'm almost halfway through the challenge, and I'm already running out of steam. Maybe it's because today is kind of like New Years Day for me. Maybe because it's Sunday, and I just want to take a day off, or just a little break.

Let me start over.

On Day 1, I mentioned the blog challenge, but left out all the details.

I'm a member of a business group of indie makers called the Indie Business Network. IBN is heading up a 30-day blog challenge. It's completely optional (yes, I chose to do this to myself), but I thought it would be a good idea to get back in the habit of regular blogging, so I took it on.

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My Halloween

Happy HalloweenI love Halloween season. It's my favorite holiday, and time of year, for so many reasons.

The air feels fresh and clean. I can wear leggings and sweaters. Arm warmers and legwarmers. Hoodies and layers and boots. All the comfort of winter clothes, without the frozen nose or frozen toes. It's chider (chai + cider) season. The season of spices. Of colored leaves and striped socks and fried dough. October is my favorite. 

And it all leads up to one day

(or two or three). 

All Hallow's Eve, Samhain, The Day of the Dead, Tricks or Treats.

It all blends together for me, but I just call it Halloween.

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Top 5 Abused Natural Industry Terms

Top 5 Abused Confused Misused Natural Industry TermsWith the ever-growing popularity of natural products, a lot of marketing words are thrown around these days. It can be difficult to figure out what exactly each word means, especially when there is little regulation around most words. Here are the top 5 abused natural industry terms:

Botanical

Botanical refers to plants, or substances derived directly from plants. This term doesn't apply to things like mineral clays or beeswax, but it's correct to refer to things like plant-based carrier oils, essential oils, and herbs as botanical. Always read the ingredient list on products. This will help you weed out products that are marketed as botanical, yet only contain a small percent of plant-based ingredients.

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Have You Heard of the Teal Pumpkin Project?

The Teal Pumpkin ProjectRemember being a kid, and Trick-or-Treating in your neighborhood? Comparing costumes, yelling "Trick or Treat?" when the adults opened the door, singing "trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat" when out of range of those same adults (you wanted to be nice - you needed candy!). At the end of the night, you'd go back home and compare candy with your friends or siblings, taking stock by dumping it all on the ground and organizing it into types, then piling it all back together. 

Now imagine if you were that same child, but you couldn't eat that candy because you had an allergy to one of the ingredients frequently found in Halloween candy, or in other items produced by the same factories as the candy.

It wouldn't be the end of the world, but it would feel like it! You'd always feel like you were missing out.

Enter the Teal Pumpkin Project

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