Friday, October 21, 2011

Making balms

A variety of herbs still growing in our garden in October.
 I can't believe I'm still able to harvest a handful of lavender, yarrow, calendula, and lots of other herbs this late in the season.  These get separated into paper bags, or bundled and hung to dry.  When they are nice and crispy, I pack them into jars and fill the rest with olive or almond oils.  After about 3 weeks, I strain the oil for use in the products I've been making.  It is a very time-consuming process (Mike recently asked my why I can't seem to do anything that is actually cost-effective) but it is rewarding.  Every step is relaxing and aromatic, and it feels good to know I'm using organically grown plants right out of my own yard.

The down side is that the pantry is small, and there really isn't room for my new enterprise.  A table just inside our front entryway is piled high with containers of oils, beeswax, honey, essential oils, and tools.  I bring what I need to the kitchen for each project, then pile it all back on the table, with no organization at all.  The kitchen floor is spackled with cocoa butter and wax, which doesn't mop up.  I need to use a straight-edge to scrape it up, and it never seems clean.  I still haven't figured out how to clean the waxy residue off of the bowls, spatulas, sieves and mixers I use to make lotion and balm.

But, it's all worth it.  I spent the better part of yesterday making a balm from beeswax, shea butter, cocoa butter, honey, vitamin E, glycerine, olive oil, and essential oils that will make a nice gift for a friend's baby shower this weekend.  The wax makes it a barrier cream, to prevent baby rash, while all of the other ingredients are nourishing and soothing.  It would also work well for gardeners, crafters, and anyone needing extra protection and moisturizing for hands, feet, elbows, etc. (It would be great for mosaic artists and those working with cement.) I am very pleased with the outcome.  Here is a photo of the balm in the tins:
Today, I finally have a working printer, so I will be experimenting with creating a label.  I've been researching companies that print labels, but for a small line of products like this, nothing is really affordable.  So, at least for now, I have to figure out how to make them myself.  I really want my products to look homemade, but pretty and professional.  Presentation has never been my strong point.
Part of our squash/pumpkin crop.
We have pulled in almost all of our pumpkins, so there isn't much left to do in the garden.  Mike has been mulching on the weekends, and I plan to start putting chickens in the veggie garden to turn the soil.  I have a pile of tomatoes and zucchini to freeze, and the rest is finally done.  We butchered the turkeys last week and our freezer is packed full.  We traded one turkey to Barnyard Gardens for some chickens, plus they always do the butchering for us.  We have decided not to raise turkeys next year.  It is far too expensive, and quite a bit of extra work. 

Well, that's the homestead report for October.  The misty-rainy season is in full swing and the hard work is over.  It's a good time to make art, soap, balm, lotion, and today I'm making bath bombs, and nursing a month-long cold. 

1 comment:

  1. Gorgeous pumpkins! I'm still picking tomatoes from the garden, but that activity is definitely coming to a close. Love your balms; I can almost smell them just looking at them on your countertop.