Apothecary Kids http://www.apothecarykids.com herbal goodness for little ones Wed, 10 Feb 2016 20:24:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 Why we bought an old school bus http://www.apothecarykids.com/school-bus-conversion/ http://www.apothecarykids.com/school-bus-conversion/#comments Wed, 10 Feb 2016 20:12:42 +0000 http://www.apothecarykids.com/?p=202 Just a few days before Christmas this last year, Todd and I bought an old school bus. Technically it was always used as a church bus, but it’s got the yellow paint underneath. At 38 foot long, it’s all ours! And barely fits within our Home Owner Association rules since it just fits on our […]

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Just a few days before Christmas this last year, Todd and I bought an old school bus.

Technically it was always used as a church bus, but it’s got the yellow paint underneath. At 38 foot long, it’s all ours!

And barely fits within our Home Owner Association rules since it just fits on our driveway behind the front line of our house… we’ve become that neighbor.

school bus conversion

We’ve talked for years about traveling the country, sometimes it includes selling our home and living on the road, other times we’ve simply wanted something better than our old pop-up for camping.

After the recession and housing market crash a few years ago, we began to realize that the “American Dream” we thought we wanted was beginning to change.

So we toured many different motor homes over the years but found that unless we DID sell our home and use all of our equity to purchase one, we wouldn’t trust those old (very teal) beasts for cross country travel. Last summer we went to look again and simply didn’t find anything within our budget that would work for our family or long term goals.

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A few years ago, my virtual friend Nina sold her house and moved their family into a converted school bus and I thought it was the coolest thing ever.

In the fall of 2014 my cousin and his wife decided to travel full time in their RV and I was so envious watching their travels.

While we were dreaming of RV life last summer, Todd approached me with the idea of building a skoolie (converted school bus) and I don’t think we’ve ever been on the same page so much in our married life. It blends my aspirations of minimizing my material possessions and Todd’s love of fabrication and building.

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We’re still not sure exactly how we’ll be using our skoolie, but we do know that it gives us possibilities that we now have the freedom to explore.

The possibility to travel more often and see the country.

We often weight the pros and cons of living in it full time for a year, knowing that some day we’ll do just this. Whether or not it’s in our immediate future…I don’t know.

Having a skoolie also frees us from having to buy a house the second we might sell ours (something we’ve thought about doing for awhile). This will give us an easy place to stay when in-between stick built homes, lessening anxiety to move quickly.

Our only goals right now are to have it finished this spring so that we can use it this year for travel and camping and to begin to minimize the things that we own.

It’s amazing how many things I now pick up around the house and realize I don’t really need (or even enjoy having) when I ask myself if I’d bring it on the bus. 

 

If you’ve converted an old school bus, or are thinking of doing it, I’d love to hear your story in the comments!

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Balsamic Bacon Brussel Sprouts http://www.apothecarykids.com/balsamic-bacon-brussel-sprouts/ Thu, 19 Nov 2015 06:00:08 +0000 http://www.apothecarykids.com/?p=188 These balsamic and bacon brussel sprouts make a great side dish for any holiday meal. And if you’re looking for more ideas, make sure to check out the Thanksgiving Recipe Swap (with Real Food!). Growing up I never ate brussel sprouts. They were simply that food that everyone hated and loved to joke about- I […]

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These balsamic and bacon brussel sprouts make a great side dish for any holiday meal. And if you’re looking for more ideas, make sure to check out the Thanksgiving Recipe Swap (with Real Food!).

Growing up I never ate brussel sprouts. They were simply that food that everyone hated and loved to joke about- I never once thought about making them.

But when faced with health issues, that were beginning to turn around due to dietary changes, I began to realize I needed to expand my palate and not be so picky already. Brussel sprouts were one of the first on the list, and after eating them I couldn’t believe I had waited so long! They were nothing like I had imagined.

This recipe came about rather recently after my friend Stephanie from EntreFamily posted a picture of her brussel sprouts on Instagram and I knew I had to recreate them for myself! I’ve made them with bacon before, but never with balsamic and it seemed to be a great idea.

It was, in fact, a match made in heaven. My entire family ate them and the kids even asked for more!

Balsamic and bacon brussel sprouts

Balsamic and bacon brussel sprouts
 
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds brussel sprouts
  • 6 ounces bacon
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon syrupy balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Trim and cut sprouts in half.
  3. Toss brussel sprouts, olive oil, salt, and pepper together in large bowl until well coated.
  4. Place in a single layer on pan and roast for 20 to 30 minutes, turning once, until they are tender and beginning to brown.
  5. At the same time, place bacon in a second pan and cook for 20 to 25 minutes. (or fry one stovetop. You could also cut into small pieces and cook with the sprouts, though I find that it's harder to make sure the bacon does not burn)
  6. After sprouts and bacon are cooked, remove from oven,
  7. crumble the bacon and stir into the brussel sprouts along with the balsamic vinegar and maple syrup.
  8. Serve immediately.

This recipe also doubles well if you’re feeding a large family or bringing as a side dish to a large gathering.

The biggest time suck for this recipe is preparing the brussel sprouts, what with peeling a few leaves off of each one and cutting them. So this is one recipe I get my kids involved in! We can sit around the counter and they peel while I cut – it goes by so much faster!

I really hope you try this recipe. It’s so flavorful and blends well with just about any holiday meal.

And bacon. You just can’t go wrong with bacon.

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Homemade elderberry syrup http://www.apothecarykids.com/homemade-elderberry-syrup/ http://www.apothecarykids.com/homemade-elderberry-syrup/#comments Tue, 22 Sep 2015 18:42:26 +0000 http://www.apothecarykids.com/?p=172 If I had to choose only one herb to have on hand during the fall and winter months it would have to be the simple elder berry. After learning how to use them to make my own elder berry syrup many years ago, we’ve never been without them! While I have purchased them many times […]

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If I had to choose only one herb to have on hand during the fall and winter months it would have to be the simple elder berry. After learning how to use them to make my own elder berry syrup many years ago, we’ve never been without them!

While I have purchased them many times from our local health food store, and online stores like Mountain Rose Herbs, I’ve also begun to forage for them myself when they ripen (usually in August). A couple of years ago I was thrilled to find a cluster of bushes in my mom’s horse pasture! It sure beats traipsing through ditches on the side of the road.

While used for centuries in the herbal world as a helpful remedy for colds and influenza, studies have also showed promising results as well with patients getting over the flu faster, and with less medication needed, while taking elderberry extract.

I also make different herbal blends to pair with my elder berries depending on the season and what I feel we need.

Years ago I used to grab just about half my herbal apothecary and add them to my syrup, but now I find that less really is more, using only 2-3 different herbs at a time. This syrup tends to the warming side of things with the added cinnamon and ginger – great for the fall season.

Homemade elderberry syrup

Homemade elderberry syrup
 
Ingredients
  • 3 cups water
  • ½ cup dried elder berries (or 1 cup fresh)
  • 2 Tbsp elder flowers
  • ½ Tbsp ginger root
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • ¼ - ½ cup honey or sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vodka or brandy (optional)
Instructions
  1. What we're going to do first is make and infusion with the water and herbs. Heat the water to boiling and pour over herbs. You can do this in a mason jar and then strain, or simply use a clean french press.
    Infusions, simply put, are strong teas, so we'll be letting this sit for about 30 minutes (berries are fairly fragile and don't need to be infused as long as other parts of the plant do).
    Once you've let this infusion sit for half an hour, strain.
  2. The next thing we'll be doing is making a decoction, which means we'll be reducing the amount of liquid by half.
    So grab a small pot and pour your infusion into it, noticing how high the liquid is - sometimes I eyeball it, other times I grab something like a popsicle or skewer stick and mark the liquid level.
    Turn your burner on medium and watch as it warms up. As soon as it begins to steam, turn the burner to low and let it continue to steam until the infusion is reduced by half. This could take 45 minutes or so.
  3. Once your decoction is finished, remove from heat. If you are using sugar, you can add it immediately and stir until dissolved. If you are using honey (especially if it's raw honey), wait until it cools to room temperature.
  4. Vodka can help add to the shelf life, though is not needed, especially if you use it quickly.
  5. Once finished, keep in the refrigerator. (should be good for a couple of weeks - otherwise freeze until needed)

This is one of our favorite elder berry variations and all of my kids love it! And I love that I can use something homemade and natural to help keep my family well.

Elderberry syrup recipe

As for dosing, it’s best to do small doses a few times per day, rather than a larger dose once per day.

And dosing will vary from herbalist to herbalist you find, but the common average seems to be 1 teaspoon at a time for adults, 1/2 teaspoon for children, and 1/4 tsp for small children/toddlers, taken multiple times per day.

In our home we normally follow the above guidelines when we’ve been exposed or feel like we’re coming down with something.

 

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Natural bug repellent for gardens http://www.apothecarykids.com/bug-repellent-for-gardens/ Mon, 11 May 2015 20:26:48 +0000 http://www.apothecarykids.com/?p=35 A couple of years ago, just as I was weeding the garden, I noticed the leaves of the green bean plants had small holes in them. Figuring it was some sort of bug, and hoping they would just go away, I left them be. Then I started to harvest my beans, and they had holes […]

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A couple of years ago, just as I was weeding the garden, I noticed the leaves of the green bean plants had small holes in them. Figuring it was some sort of bug, and hoping they would just go away, I left them be.

Then I started to harvest my beans, and they had holes in them too. And one happened to have a little green worm sticking right out of the center of one of my beans! I didn’t know exactly what they are (still don’t), but I do know I want them off my plants.

I also want to keep chemicals out of my garden so I can keep our produce as healthy as possible for my family.

After some searching years ago, I found a recipe online (pre-Pinterest days) and thought I’d give it a try. While I was somewhat doubtful, it has worked well over the years at keeping my garden growing strong and free from toxic chemicals.

natural bug repellent for gardens

 

Natural bug repellent for gardens

Natural bug repellent for gardens
 
Ingredients
  • one head of garlic, chopped up (big pieces are fine)
  • one onion, chopped (again they don't have to be small pieces)
  • one tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • three quarts water
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients into a pot on the stove and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until you have just a quart of liquid left.
  2. Strain into a jar or other storage device using  cheesecloth or other thin material.
  3. To use, take about 1 Tbsp mixture and pour into a spray bottle with about 2 cups of water and a couple drops of a natural liquid soap (helps it stick).
  4. Spray the plants including the underside of the leaves. Reapply after a hard rain.

Now, I don’t worry to much about measuring exactly, and I just do a quick spray all over (I’m sure I miss parts of the plant) but this has really helped keep the nasty little worms away from my beans and other plants. I’ve used it every year with great results.

You will have to re-spray after a hard rain, or about once every week or two to keep them at bay, but it only takes a few minutes if you have a garden sprayer (available on Amazon).

Do you have any tricks to keeping your plants bug free?

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Gluten free banana muffins (with blueberry, apple, zucchini/carrot variations) http://www.apothecarykids.com/gluten-free-banana-muffins/ Mon, 11 May 2015 19:43:39 +0000 http://www.apothecarykids.com/?p=28 Our family has been gluten-free for a few years now, and while we are now happy to live without bread products for the most part, we still enjoy them every now and again. And these gluten-free muffins are soft and delicious, perfect for a quick snack or on-the-go! One of the best things about this […]

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Our family has been gluten-free for a few years now, and while we are now happy to live without bread products for the most part, we still enjoy them every now and again. And these gluten-free muffins are soft and delicious, perfect for a quick snack or on-the-go!

gluten free muffins

One of the best things about this muffin is that it is so versatile. We’ve made them with mashed bananas, shredded zucchini and carrots, applesauce, and blueberries.

gluten free banana muffins

 

The trick, I believe, in keeping them so light, yet moist, is using the yogurt or kefir.

We have also successfully made this as a bread, though the smaller the loaf pan, the better it rises. The loaf above was a mini loaf, taking only a few minutes longer than the muffins of the same batch.

gluten free banana muffin

 

Gluten-free banana muffins

Gluten Free Muffins {banana, apple, blueberry, zucchini}
Author: 
Recipe type: Gluten Free Muffins
Cuisine: breads and grains
 
Ingredients
  • ⅔ cup sorghum flour
  • ⅔ cup brown rice flour
  • ⅔ cup tapioca flour
  • ⅔ cup whole cane sugar (sucanat or rapadura)
  • ¾ tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tsp baking powder (aluminum free)
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice OR cinnamon
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup whole plain yogurt OR kefir
  • 1 egg
  • 5 Tbsp melted coconut oil (or butter)
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • (you can also use 1 cup applesauce, blueberries, or 2 cups shredded zucchini/carrots)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease muffin tin.
  2. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a stand mixer or large bowl.
  3. In a second bowl, stir together the yogurt (or kefir) egg, coconut oil (or butter), along with your choice of fruit/veggie.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredient bowl and stir gently until well combined.
  5. Fill muffin tin ⅔ full and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Let cool for a couple of minutes and transfer to a cooling rack. or eat them warm with some nice grass-fed butter.

*recipe adapted from Gluten Free Mommy’s Carrot Zucchini Muffin

 

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