Getting the rust out

Nasty stained tub! YUCK!

Nasty stained tub! YUCK!

Over the past weekend, we moved out of our old 1858 house. And of course, I needed to clean it for its next residents. I used my magical remedy on our rust covered tub and thought I would share my discovery again with you.

I really hate cleaning something when it doesn’t end up looking any better than when I started. I really need the validation of appearance that it is indeed clean. Call me superficial, but that’s the way it is. We live in a house built in 1858 and not being validated for my efforts happens a lot. The hard water leaves a nasty terracotta hue on everything, and the other day, I decided I couldn’t bear looking at our tub anymore. It did not matter that it was clean and it was only a stain covering most of the tub. I wanted to take a shower in a WHITE tub. Of course, I tried my old buddiesbaking soda and white vinegar, but nothing. I scrubbed it with comet and left it on over night. Perhaps the stain was not as orange, but it was still there. I started to Google rust stains. I came across an interesting remedy that the blogger swore by ~ Dawn dish detergent (it had to be Dawn) scrubbed into the tub then sprayed with white vinegar, and left on over night. I decided to give it a whirl ~ it did not make an ounce of difference. Needless to say, I was getting a bit despondent. I know I should be grateful that I have a clean tub, but living in grunginess tends to get a girl down after awhile.

I remembered years ago, hearing that Cream of Tartar was good for removing rust stains. I decided to Google it. There were quite a few blogs about using Cream of Tartar for cleaning and some other interesting tidbits about it. Cream of Tartar is a by-product of the winemaking process. It comes from tartaric acid, a naturally occurring substance in winemaking. It’s found in the sediment left behind in wine barrels and bottles after fermentation, before it gets purified into the powdery white substance that we use in baking. Another helpful tip for bakers who have run out of baking powder ~ all you have to do is combine cream of tartar with baking soda to create your very own baking powder. Cream of Tartar is also known as potassium bitartrate. It is an acid salt, and something very interesting about acid salts it that when they are dissolved into a liquid, they lower the pH of the liquid.

But I digress, Cream of Tartar is also known for removing stains, even rust stains on bathtubs. I found several recipes; all of them combined the cream of tartar with an acidic liquid ~ white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide or lemon juice. I suspect the acidity of the liquid helps the Cream of Tartar do its job. I was curious to see which liquid would better facilitate the bleaching action of the cream of tartar.

I decided to compare Cream of Tartar with white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. I didn’t think it was necessary to use lemon juice as well. The recipe is very simple and the results blew me away.

The miracle

The miracle

  1. Combine equal parts of Cream of Tartar with the acidic liquid to make a thick paste.
  2. Gently cover the tub in the paste ~ no scrubbing needed.
  3. Wait 30 mins. and rinse off paste.

    Just mix into a thick paste

    Just mix into a thick paste

tub half and half

Check out the difference!

I was blinded by the white tub in front of me! Both pastes worked well, but I think the one with the hydrogen peroxide might have been a little brighter. I am so amazed how easy and fabulous the results were. I know it may be silly but I cannot tell you how fantastic it feels to shower in our bright white tub.

I swear, it really is the same tub!

I swear, it really is the same tub!

How do you clean rust stains? Please share and I will continue to share.

Foraging Black Birch

When I was about 8 years old, David introduced me to Black Birch (also known as Sweet Birch, Betula lenta), which is rather easy to identify when the branches are broken or scratched, it smells of wintergreen. Yellow birch also has a wintergreen aroma but not as strong. David taught me that I could make tea out of the Black Birch bark. After a long hike, we took a young branch and broke it into small pieces (each about an inch long, the thickness of a matchstick), added it to boiled water and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes (it’s important not to boil the twigs themselves, as they will lose its aroma). The water turned this beautiful red and smelled of wintergreen; the tea was delicious!

As my passion for the natural world grew, I loved to share it with friends. I found I could keep their attention if I identified plants that we could eat along the way. After a long hike, I would harvest some Black Birch and make tea for my hiking companions. This always impressed them and was a good ending to a lovely hike.

What I learned later was that Black Birch has analgesic and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory properties. Methyl salicylate compounds found inside the oil are effectively absorbed and used by the body to naturally treat pain. Methyl salicylate is related to the compound from which aspirin is derived from, so it was a perfect ending to a long hike and relieved any muscle aches we had.

When foraging it is important to properly identify the plant before eating or tasting. Peterson has an excellent field guide series.

Audubon also has a great series

P.S. I don’t think you can have too many field guides.

All information is shared for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Happy 4th of July!

How to take Goldenrod for allergies

My savior

If you have ever read my blog, you know I am a huge fan of Goldenrod (Solidago spp.). It has changed my life by enabling me to wean myself of synthetic allergy medicines and liberating me from my allergy hell. As I delve deeper into its magical abilities, I am continually impressed with how well it works for a broad range of ailments. Here’s a glimpse into the amazing world of Goldenrod, it can ameliorate allergies, sinusitis, bladder infections, cystitis, urethritis, colds and flu, fungal infections, reduce aches and pains, kidney stones, enlarged prostate, fevers, diarrhea, depression, edema, tumors, eczema, gout and soothe arthritis and laryngitis as well as heal wounds. What’s not to love?!

Lately, people have come to me with questions concerning how to take Goldenrod and the proper dosage. I am afraid that there are no straightforward simple answers. Luckily, there are a number of ways to utilize its medicinal qualities for allergies. It is very versatile and can bring relief from allergies in a number of ways. It is important for each individual to learn what works best for their body and supports their lifestyle. For some, tinctures are the easy and fast solution, others infusions make more sense and so on.

First, it is essential to understand Goldenrod does not work when taken along with synthetic allergy medicines, so it’s best to use it on its own first. This can be scary for individuals that suffer a great deal from allergies and have depended on synthetic allergy medicines for relief most of their lives. I know, I was there, but luckily Goldenrod provides quick relief once taken.

Although there is quite a bit of crossover for other ailments, we will focus on taking Goldenrod for allergy relief:

  • Infusions ~ Sipping 1-3 cups a day will help dry up your runny, drippy nose. Sipping a cup all day long can provide quite a bit of relief. It can be combined with other soothing herbs or drank alone. Goldenrod makes a lovely drink, hot or cold. After the Boston Tea Party, the colonist drank “Liberty Tea” aka ~ Goldenrod instead of black tea. It became so popular that it was exported to China.
  • Tincture ~ For immediate relief, take 30-60 drops, up to 3 times a day. Taking a dose before bed helps to reduce waking up all congested. Remember less is always better, play around to see how little you need for relief ~ you can always take more. When the pollen is flying, add 30-60 drops into your water bottle and sip it throughout the day. You will get a low dose all day long; it is like being hooked up to a slow drip IV.
  • Jello ~ Children with allergies can be tricky; they can be very picky eaters or fear the strange and unknown. The recipe allows for 48 squares, and each square is a ½ a dose, allowing for multiple dosages throughout the day. Due to digestion, it remains in the system longer than a straight tincture dose therefore relief lasts longer.
  • Neti Pot ~ Make a light tea and strain it through a coffee filter ~ you do not want any plant material in your sinuses. Mix with a ¼ tsp. of salt and flush your sinuses. The astringent and anti-inflammatory properties really tighten up the tissues and reduce all the drippiness. Relief can last all day.
  • Chewing on leaves ~ Grab a leaf; chew on it to release the astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. When I am mowing the lawn and need a quick fix, Goldenrod is there!

Some people still make the distinction between culinary and medicinal herbs, but the truth is that there are numerous plants that overlap both categories. Goldenrod happens to be one of them. All of the aerial parts of the plant are edible. It’s fun to add the leaves or flowers to meals and it’s a great way to receive its healing benefits. Besides making tea from the flowers and leaves, throw some flowers on your salads. Instead of cooking with spinach, use the leaves and add them to your soups, stews or casseroles. I like putting them in my omelets along with some fresh Stinging Nettles and Dandelion greens.  In my book, there is nothing better than eating my medicine.

As I come up with new ways of utilizing Goldenrod, I will continue to share. What has been your experience with Goldenrod? Please share.

All information is shared for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Summer is here ~ It’s time for some Sangria!

I had never been a Sangria drinker, not until I created the best recipe ever! Prior to that, I drank it perhaps five times in my whole life. And for some reason Sangria called out to me a bunch of years ago; not white wine, beer, or any other beverage that I might have enjoyed during the hot days of summer.  Regardless, something told me that that summer was going to be a Sangria summer. I had a feeling that is was going to be a very hot summer and we were going to be swimming in the pond or hanging out on the porch, grilling and a nice cold beverage was going to be in order.  Therefore, I set out to create the best Sangria ever. I pored over recipes on the internet and thought I would try a bunch and adapt them to make the best Sangria ever. The first one I tried was by Emeril.

Amazing as it sounds, I just about nailed it on the first try. I did adapt it over the course of the summer, but the basic recipe is Emeril’s. Not it has become a staple to music festivals and nights grilling.

The Best Sangria Recipe ever!

1 bottle of cheap red wine, I use red Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon

¼ cup brandy

¼ cup triple sec

¼ cup cane sugar

¼ cup orange juice

2 tbsp lime juice

Combine all ingredients and let sit for at least an hour in the fridge.

Shake vigorously and pour over ice and seasonal fruit.



The EARTH without ART is just EH

Last week was particularly stressful for me. I had too many thoughts running through my head and very few solutions or good options available. My house was a wreck and I had some long overdue projects to complete. I decided to run away from the housework and work on the projects.

I always forget how creating something returns balance to my world. Some people get this feeling from cooking and nourishing their loved ones. Cooking has never been a creative outlet for me. No matter how hard I try, cooking is only functional for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love eating and trying new things, but it always is more satisfying when someone else creates it. Thank goodness, Mike loves to cook and is very good at it. What satisfies my soul is making something beautiful and utilitarian from material that would normally be thrown away; for example, mosaic light-switch covers made from broken pottery or candles  from leftover candle wax.switchplate

I have wonderful childhood memories of going into NYC, riding the subways, walking the streets and going to museums. I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the mosaics everywhere. For years I thought about making them, how I would go about it, read about making them and then I finally made one. To get started, I asked local potters and asked them for any broken pottery and they were more than willing to provide me with an ample supply.

My first project was a family name sign that I gave my husband for our first wedding anniversary. Although I made some mistakes, I simply love my first mosaic. I love seeing it hang outside our house. Unfortunately, after 16 years of marriage and being exposed to the elements, it has developed cracks along the seams. Construction of the frame was one of my mistakes – never use unsealed wood – ever. As a gift to Mike for our 16th anniversary, I decided to repair our family sign so it can weather the storms once again and hang at our new home.

BiltonenAlthough I was not creating something new, it felt so good to get into a creative project again. I haven’t made a mosaic for a couple of years. When we moved cross-country, I decided not to take ten boxes of broken pottery with me. I kept telling myself, I could get some wherever I go, which is true. When we moved back to the east coast, I started talking to potters again and they were more than happy to give me their broken pieces. In fact, some shops said they would sell my switch-plate covers. Nevertheless, my head wasn’t in that special creative place anymore, or at least I kept telling myself.  My focus has been on creating herbal remedies for the past six years. It seemed like a new creative outlet for me but now I realize it is not creative enough. I must go back to creating utilitarian art. Perhaps it will be mosaics again or something new. I just acquired an old wooden love-seat that needs some attention. Perhaps, once it is reinforced and stabilized, I can adorn it will some lively colors. Regardless, I must create; I must remember to feed my soul.

switchplate What do you do to feed your soul? Please share and I will continue to share.

Such a little flower with so many names

I call it Dog Tooth Lily (Erythronium americanum), but you may call it Yellow Trout-Lily, or simply Trout-Lily, or Dog’s-Tooth Violet, or Eastern Trout-Lily, or Yellow Adder’s Tongue, or Adder’s Tongue, or  Fawn Lily, or Thousand Leaf, or Deer Tongue, or Yellow Snowdrop, or Yellow Adder’s Tongue Lily, or perhaps Yellow Fawn Lily. Nevertheless, it’s simply one of those beautiful flowers that screams “SPRING is here” while you are walking in the woods. dog tooth lily leaves only

There are perfectly good reasons for all those names. If you’re like me and love hiking in the woods, observing the daily changes, at first you see all these little single leaves that appear on the forest floor (ergo Thousand Leaf name). Each day, they get fuller and the green leaves start to develop brownish contrasting pigment that resembles the marking of a Brook Trout, a deer’s tongue or the camouflage coat of a fawn. On the other hand, perhaps another reason to associate it with Trout is that they start to appear the same time as trout season.  Adder’s tongue refers to the appearance of the emerging stamens of the flower, protruding like the tongue of a snake.

The name “dogtooth” refers to the tooth-like shape of the white underground bulb known as a corm, which looks like a dog’s canine tooth. The corms are edible raw and apparently taste like cucumber. This plant is not a violet nor related to violets, so why the name? Well, it’s simple guilt by association ~ since the leaves emerge in the spring at about the same time as the violet, the silly association was made.

Regardless of the name ~ it’s a welcome sight on hike through the tooth flower