Farmers market

Today was the big market at Micmac Farms in Caribou. I made and sold 21 loaves of bread. That was great!

I brought all my soaps, lotions and creams, some of my sculpted cameos and a couple of Christmas decorations I’d made. And I sold a bit of everything!

I brought three containers of Borage oil cream. I didn’t expect to sell any, but I wanted to get a few samples out there to see how people like it. I opened one and made up 8 half ounce samples and handed them out to women my age or older after asking if they had arthritis in their hands. I spoke about the benefits of Borage oil, handed them a free sample, asking only that they try it. One woman returned about 20 minutes after I gave her the sample asking for the larger jar. She told me her hands felt better than they had in a long time. She was funny, as she came over, calling,”it works! It works!”

Yep! That was the high point of my day.

I missed my BLOG!!!!!

Yesterday I got up, spun, made shaving soap (don’t ask, it was a disaster! And yes, I’ll get to it eventually.)I waited until 11 for my neighbor to be ready to go for groceries. 

I should tell you, shopping these days is a chore rather than a pleasure. Up here in The County (Yup, they really call it that!) shopping means going to at least three different stores. First you hit the Dollar Tree for all the things you can get for a buck that won’t be all that different from the things you’d have to pay $5 for elsewhere.

After running through a good $20 at the Dollar Tree you head over to Walmart. The Walmart here isn’t a Super Walmart. There’s one row of fresh foods, a couple rows of freezers and three or four more rows with food. And they’re short rows! I was terribly surprised that they had Thanksgiving turkeys! 

After Walmart it’s time to hit the actual grocery store. There are a couple of good ones to choose from and there are days when you need to go to both to hit the sales. Between Walmart and the grocery store I can expect to spend at least $300 so I don’t need to keep going to town (30 minute drive) every few days. 

Once every month or so I make the sacrificial grocery drive to Bangor (hour and a half, give or take) to go to the BIG Walmart Super Store. Don’t even ask what I spend there! But what I save is worth the drive. 

Yeah, yesterday ended up being a shopping day. I got home exhausted, put away groceries,made a beef stew and went to bed!

Sorry I missed writing my blog!

Oh, the soap. . . Perhaps a picture will suffice. Lets just say that adding milks to soap makes it really creamy, but it turns the soap dark. 

Steve says shaving soap that looks like poo probably won’t sell well.

Head cold, continued

So. . . I made horehound cough drops. And to add an extra measure of “make me feel better” I added a small dose of glycerine based cannabis tincture to the finished, still hot and syrupy cough drops. Tiny gummy bear molds did a great job of pretending to be cough drop molds.

The dose was so small you’d need to eat a dozen to get high, but that’s the way I like it. I want the medical benefits of marijuana without being high.

They were amazing! They cleared my sinuses and soothed my throat. Ya gotta love it when a recipe works out just right!

Old Fashioned Head Cold Relief?

When I was a child (a long time ago) we called them “old fashioned cough drops”. Horehound cough drops were already thought of as being less effective than the eucalyptus and menthol sugared squares that are still in use today.

To tell you the truth, I loved horehound cough drops.

Imagine my delight when I noticed horehound in a friend’s garden! I brought some home and placed the fresh tender shoots, leaves and flowers into a quart mason jar and covered it all with water. The next part was the hardest: waiting! I placed the jar in the refrigerator and let it steep for two weeks.

To be continued later today. . .

What’s a “day off”?

This morning I got up and came right over to the computer. I have so much to do that this may be the only time today where my mind is on this blog. So I’ll take this opportunity to get it written!

I was going to start something about cannabis, but then I realized that this “too busy to write” thing is actually something I should probably write about. Not because I have nothing else, but because there is just so much that needs to be done this week it’s driving me bonkers!

Saturday is a HUGE farm market 80 miles from home on the line between Caribou, ME and Presque Isle. I’ve been preparing breads for this event for days. I probably have 10 loaves already to thaw, let rise, shape then bake off on Friday so they’re still fresh for sale on Saturday. But 10 loaves isn’t enough! I’ll do 6 loaves a day today, Wednesday and Thursday too. And at night I’ll fiddle with soaps and creams or cannabis edibles.

Yesterday I made 8 loaves because some needed to be baked off for photos. So in addition to preparing bread for the freezer I baked off 3 loaves, set them up to look pretty and took photos. Now that I think about it, I’m a loaf short! I baked up 3! That leaves me with only 5 in the freezer.  *Heavy sigh* Awe hell!

Between batches of bread I often crochet or spin yarn. I got some beautiful fiber for my birthday that I’m spinning as fast as I can to see how beautiful it really is! I’ll try to add some photos of it soon.

After my day of prepping, baking, photographing, crocheting and spinning I decided to make soap. I had about 10 ounces of salve that didn’t work out that I needed to be rid of. I added 6 ounces of coconut oil to that and made a beautiful fluid hot process soap that worked up like a dream. What a perfect end to an already busy day. I’m pretty sure this soap will manage to stay in my personal cache as I can’t even tell you what’s in it. All I know is it went into the mold without a hitch and came out so pretty! With any luck it will lather! haha

Hmm, have I wandered off my theme? Nah, I’ve only showed you what every day is like here! From the moment my feet hit the ground to the moment I lay my head down at night there’s always something to do (though I will admit to playing a few time management games on my desktop as I wait for dough to rise or soap to cool.)  The funny thing is, I have no idea what I used to do before I started this! And I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t do this. I love my life! Who needs a day off?!!!!!

 

Arthritis

First let me say, arthritis sucks! I’ve been dealing with it since I was 25 (that was 33 years ago for those who don’t want to count it out.) So I’ll admit, most of my work in this area is for selfish reasons. Honestly, I’ve only got two so far and both are topical.

The first line of defense for an over the counter salve for muscles or joints is capsaicin. I’ve made a hand cream type bar with capsaicin and clove and it works pretty well, but don’t get it near your eyes!  It also has little pieces of cayenne pepper in it. It’s not pretty at all!

Next I tried infusing oil with the cayenne to make capsaicin oil. I’m not all that sure it worked as well as I wanted it to. I’ve infused vodka with hot peppers and it’s worked well, but mixing alcohol with oils will be something totally new for me. I think I’m going to give it a try anyway.

With the oil I made a salve. It just doesn’t have the “heat up my skin” feeling I got with the cayenne right in the bar. Oh well, back to the drawing board!

The other ingredient I’ve had a lot of success with is Borage Oil. Borage is also called starflower. There’s a pretty good discription of what borage oil is used for here.

I’ve used borage oil in salves, creams and lotion bars. I personally prefer the lotion bar, but the cream is pretty luxurious!

I’m sure I’ll be trying many more arthritis remedies in the future, but I really get good results with the borage oil.

 

Sourcing Ingredients

Ingredients are a fickle thing. Especially here in Maine, where it starts to snow in October and stops in April. Fresh ingredients are sometimes just not possible.

Some ingredients I use are not strictly legal everywhere. (For example: Cannabis {aka marijuana, or weed}is legal for both medical and recreational use here in Maine, but you can’t sell it.) That doesn’t mean I won’t be telling you about my escapades with it.

Other ingredients are much better when concentrated into pressed or distilled oils. Carrier oils pretty much always need to be bought and local varieties aren’t always available.

But most of my veggies, fruits and herbs are local. 

And here you come to the rave of the day: Local produce is best! 

Local produce is fresher than most of the stuff you buy at the grocery store. It’s just come from someone’s garden, picked by someone’s hands and tended by someone from the day it’s set into the ground. And chances are, it’s someone you know!

Local produce is also better for your home economy. You’re putting your money into a local pocket, who will probably spend the money locally. This helps the entire country, if even on just a tiny scale.

I’ve found that if I’m at a farm stand I can ask whoever is attending it if it’s possible to get items I’m not seeing. For example, a farm may have zucchini and tomatoes out, but I really need some basil. When I’ve asked often they have some in their “kitchen” garden and will run out and grab me a few sprigs. (My “kitchen” garden usually has 5 or 6 of each herb plant I try that year. If you need something ASK!!! I usually have way more than I need!

But I admit, I buy a lot of ingredients (especially oils and butters) online. Amazon is my first line of purchase. Though lots of those selling there are from outside the country, I know there are a lot of people doing small merchandising there. So I feel good buying anything that isn’t going to be delivered in three weeks to three months. I avoid things that say “customs tax may be charged.”

As for essential oils, I have two companies I buy from that are fairly inexpensive and carry most of what I want.

Most oils I use for soaps and creams I can buy right in my local grocery store. Olive, sunflower, coconut, soybean and castor oil are all available at most grocery stores or (in the case of castor oil) pharmacies.

If you’re  fortunate (as I am!) you may have an Amish store nearby that offers things like glycerin, castor oil, nuts, a huge variety of flours and other ingredients that cost less than they do otherwise.

More and more natural food stores are popping up all over the place. I have yet to venture into one, but I have a friend who does regularly and keeps me in organic flours and natural sugar replacements. I swear, I’ll try to make it in next time I’m in the city! (For those wondering, I mean Bangor. It’s the nearest city to me; only an hour and a half drive.)

If all else fails you can resort to a national health food store. I try to avoid GNC because I feel so inferior to the body builders who shop and work there! But I’ll go in if I’m really hard up for a particular ingredient and they may have it.

OK, now you have my secrets of where to buy the goodies. I guess tomorrow I’ll start telling you how I use the goodies. Or perhaps, why I make goodies. Or. . . well there are lots of things I can tell you. I guess you’ll just need to wait and see!