Friday, December 29, 2006

So, the other day, I got to make some catnip toys. Get out dried catnip, place in bowl. Place bowl on counter. Go to kitchen to get muslin bags. Come back to counter....and laugh hysterically at the huge cat that has stuffed himself IN the bowl, on TOP of the catnip.

Yep, Sassy got in the bowl of catnip and claimed it for himself. Furthermore, he SLEPT in the bowl, for several hours. We moved the bowl from the counter, to other parts of the shop, numerous times...not once did he get out.

Silly cat!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

here's a delicious white chili recipe given to us by some of our favorite friends! :)

Lora's White Chili

2 size #4 cans great northern white beans
1-3 chopped onions
2 lbs ground turkey
2 cans salsa verda (about 14 oz total)
2 cans copped green chilies (or cut up fresh ones)
1 small bottle La Victoria green taco sauce
2 cans (about 32 oz) chicken broth
1 tsp cumin or to taste
1 tsp oregano or to taste

Fry turkey, onions, cumin, oregano together. When fully cooked, add other ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes or until ready.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

BEESWAX! We get our beeswax from a local fellow - he's super nice, and has GREAT beeswax. And we love to support our local farmers. Here is what it looks like when we get it. It's fairly clean, but there's pollen and bee bits and stuff in it. This is what about 100 lbs of beeswax looks like.

We put it in a biiiiig pot we have (purchased from our local secondhand store, and kept used just for this purpose) and melt it over low heat. Everything smells SOOOOOO good when we do this! The smell of warm beeswax is one of my most favorite scents in the world.

Then we strain out the ooky stuff from the melted beeswax, using very high-tech tools such as cheesecloth and an embroidery hoop. :) We've read that actually used sweatshirts make fabulous straining material - we plan to try that as soon as we get to Goodwill to pick some up.

This is all the stuff we strain out from the beeswax. Aren't you glad that doesn't end up in your lip balms or salves? :)

And here it is cooling in metal loaf pans. The large ones hold 2 lbs of beeswax and the small ones hold 1.

This is what our shop looks like about 4PM, just before we head to the post office. :)

And this is what our shop looked like Tuesday mornign when we got to work, after Paul, or fabulous UPS guy, delivered to us late Monday night. You are looking at: 250 lbs. of soywax, boxes full of organza bags and cello bags, about 600 solid perfume tins and shrink bands, 300 soy wax melt containers, 144 - 2 oz. tins, about 30 deodorants, 11 lbs. of eucalyptus oil, and a few other things which I've now forgotten. All in boxes and bubblewrap and peanuts of course.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Here's a little post about our birdie (and human) friends at Iowa Parrot Rescue. Mike, who runs the rescue with his wife Abi, says this:

"We currently have about 45 birds in care here. 9 are permanent residents. 4 are refugees from Hurricane Katrina...their home was destroyed and they're here while it waits to be rebuilt. One is just visiting while his family is out of town. The rest are awaiting adoption. We get them from people who can no longer care for them, from humane societies, and recently we got 36 from the US Govt. They were part of a seized illegal import shipment. People find us via our web
page at _www.mikebear.org_ ( , or by word of mouth. People who want to adopt birds must apply and visit here for an interview, and then have a home visit by us. We have to make sure that the birds will have a stable permanent home, in safe and healthy
conditions. We don't charge any adoption fees. We are funded partly by donations and partly
from our own pockets. Depending on circumstances, it costs anywhere from
$500 to $1000 monthly to feed, maintain, and care for the birds. We are an Iowa
non-profit corporation and a 501(c)3 tax exempt charity under federal law.

_Iowa Parrot Rescue_

What he doesn't talk about is how much work he and Abi do to care for these birds! Abi (who runs High Prairie Fibers) gave up her studio for most of the summer, so her 36 birds would have somwhere to live! They do great work, and could use a little extra help. So visit their website, and maybe donate or purchase some of their bonky balls, candles, or other goodies.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Last week, I spent most of one day just ordering stuff - stuff to make stuff with. :) Like tins, jars, bottles, shea butter, oils, essential oils...that kind of stuff. So we can be all ready for the holidays. And it's started arriving! This lot of boxes was waiting for us on Monday morning when we opened. It took me 2 hours to unpack and put everything away!!! And there will probably be more today. :)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Howdy all! I've been really bad about posting this past week, sorry! We had a CRAZY weekend. We had a blast at the downtown farmer's market, and had a wonderful class on Saturday too - 14 people learned to make Body Scrubs. I think they had a geat time- I know Donna had agreat time teaching them. Then, we had a 3-farm party with a Sample Sunday - I scored a great bottle of wine from Prairie Moon Winery. Anyway....we're really busy getting things made and stocked up, but I promise I will post with some interesting recipes and news VERY soon. Our next schedule of classes looks totally cool , I'm really excited!!


Monday, November 06, 2006

WOW! The fiber classes this past weekend were AWESOME! We had SUCH a good time. This pictures shows what John dyed during the Sunday "Dyeing with Jacquard Acid Dyes" class. It was a day-long class (10-4), and I can't believe how much we learned during this one day. Abi, from High Prairie Fibers, was our patient, generous teacher. We learned how to use acid dyes to dye yarn, roving, batts, fleece (locks) and wool fabric, and used a different technique to dye EACH ONE. It was amazing. We had several spinners, an experienced needlefelter, and several fiber producers there, so there was a wide range of interests and experiences among the students. Visit Maggie's blog to see what she dyed!

And this kitty lives at our neighbors, at Picket Fence Creamery. I don't know her name, but we just happened to see he cuddled up in these flowers when we went to get milk. Isn't that a great pic?

Sorry, guys, I've been really bad about posting lately. Ill try to make up for it!
This is "Go", which is Japanese for "five". Maggie has 4 tabby cats...and so she's the fifth total. but her name also fits her personality, in that she's very energetic and loves to GO! :) She's about 6 months old now, and really likes living in a herb shop.
So - it's that time of year when the garden is put to bed, so, we spend time now (october and early Nov.) really stocking up for the holiday shopping season. Which means, for instance, making several pounds of bath tea. This could easily be one day's project. Here is "Harmony" bath tea, about 5 lbs of it. it takes a LONG time to put a small amount in each tea bag, seal the teabags shut, then package and label the bath teas. But then, we're stocked up on bath teas through the holiday season!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Here's a lovely recipe to warm up your November day! Thank you to Betty, who let me post it!

Betty's Chocolate Chai

Betty says " I developed this after much experimentation. You can adjust the seasonings
to suit your taste. Please, please, please, don’t use this recipe without
giving me credit and a link to my website!"

3 slices fresh ginger root
6 whole cloves
½ teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon quality cinnamon
5 black peppercorns
¼ tsp. crushed cardamom seed
2 Tablespoons Darjeeling tea leaves
2 cups milk
1 cup boiling water

Infuse the spices in the boiling water for 15 minutes. Strain. Pour
infused water into saucepan, add milk. Heat til warmed thoroughly, but do
not let boil. In each serving cup, squirt a bit of chocolate syrup, add the
hot, spiced infusion, stir. ENJOY!

Monday, October 16, 2006

I am experimenting and playing with natural dyes, and, have saved the leftover "tea" from our last few batches of hydrosol. The water lleft over from distilling the eucalyptus hydrosol was a really, REALLY interesting red color. I used some of the actual eucalyptus plant matter to compost dye some silk squares...those won't be ready for a few weeks, so I don't know what they look like. But I dyed this roving with the eucalyptus "tea" and think it's a really pretty color! Next, I'll try the leftover tea from the lemon eucalyptus we did a week or two ago. :)


We had our official hard freeze on Wednesday night. *sigh* I had some lemongrass, lemon verbena, and a bit of lemon eucalyptus that hadn't made it into the still yet, so I cut those and they are in the drying shed now. I'll distill them as soon as the weather cooperates. Those were the most "tender" herbs I wanted to save. I still have rosemary to distill, but it likes the cold, so it will be okay for a while! It's always sad to have the first frost come....but also kind of a relief in a way, because that means the bulk of our summer work is done!

John took this picture of a spider hanging out in our garden. We love spiders!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Here's a lovely recipe from our website - perfect for fall. :)


Recipe courtesy of Kristine Farley of

Here's what we have been doing for at least a decade. We love to have it on
Sundays in the fall and winter. That way we all get our immune boost for the

A-1 tablespoon each; Pau D'arco, Echinacea root, Cinnamon stick, Cloves (whole), Dried Ginger
Add to a quart of water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes

B-Add to above; 1 tablespoon each; Hibiscus flowers, Orange or Lemon peel,
Juniper berries, Rosehips.
Let steep for 20 minutes.

C-Strain & add apple cider or frozen apple juice concentrate with water. (1 gallon total)

D-Add 1/2 cup honey & lemon juice.

Serve warm. Yum!!!
Healthy Blessings,
Kristine ~ Herbalist & Mother of Many
Handcrafted Soaps & Herbal Products
It's soo quiet out there - what's everyone doing??

To get things moving, we're doing a $5 flat-rate shipping sale over the weekend. Flat rate $5 shipping on ANY order (unless you spend more than $100 - then it's free!). From now until Tuesday, Oct. 10th. :)

It's a beautiful autumn day here! breezy and cool. Eucalyptus is in the still. We're working on last-minute stuff to finish our classroom before fall - most notably, a walkway, which we just realized needs to be completed by Tuesday the 17th. EEP! Weekend construction projects, here we come....

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I love it when so many things intersect so beautifully! Since I'm starting to learn about natural dyeing, I'm extra-glad that my still is copper. Copper, in various forms, is used as both a mordant (color-fixer) and dye for wool, silk, etc. - and, it is a metal, so it occasionally reacts with the chemical constituents of various herbs I put in it. So....when I clean out my condenser, I just throw a little vinegar in it, and pretty soon I have a beautiful blue-green solution that I save and use as a mordant and dye. And sometimes, when I distill things, I open the still (the next day, after it's cooled), and find the herbs on top a bright, BRIGHT green color. Like, technicolor green. It's happened to me with lemon balm, various mints, and today, Lemon eucalyptus. I happened to have a few pre-mordanted silk scarves on hand, because I've been playing with flower pounding (bashing flowers into silk to impregnate the silk with colors and the flower imprint. It's easy and HIGHLY addictive). I took the beautiful leftover (already-distilled)lemon eucalytus leaves with green "stuff" on them, and did some imprinting onto a couple of silk scarves. I took another scarf, and just wiped down the inside of the still - the scarf is now a GORGEOUS bright green color. Last, but not least, I saved a gallon of leftover lemon eucalyptus "tea" (the liquid left in the bottom of the pot of my still), and I'm going to take that home and try doing some dyepot dyeing with both silk and wool, using that.

I'll post pics later, but it probably wont' be until tomorrow. We're teaching a "Lovin' Lavender" class tonight, so it will be a very long day at work for us.

Here's a pic of our still, if that helps you visualize what I was doing. :)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Anyone interested in natural dyeing? (It's herb-related, right?) :) That's what I'm doing at home today, for fun. :) I posted more about it in my blog, but also wanted to put this link here too - it's some really cool and amazingly beautiful blog entries/photos all about natural dyeing.

Friday, September 29, 2006

This is Moe, doing what he does best. Relaxing. And guarding his precious catnip stash! (I mean, we only have dozens of catnip plants....there *might* be shortage anytime!). He came to live here after a friend of ours had to move to a place where they don't accept kitties (Can you IMAGINE such a thing?!?! Life without kitties!). He's about 5 or 6, and rules the roost here, keeping order over all the other cats and keeping the humans in line too.

This is Sassy. Originally, we named his Sasquatch, because he has BIG feet, with extra toes! (Yup, he's a polydactyl. a dinosaur cat, heh heh). But, since he lives in an herb shop, I ended up yelling "Sassafrass!" when he was in trouble. So I guess that's his real name. But he goes by Sassy, and sassy is what he is. He's a big, furry, cuddly cat that LOVES to squish his big self into small baskets. Especially if they're partially filled with, say, products. *sigh*

He also adores boxes of packing peanuts, and, if the box is big enough, will literally SWIM in the box of peanuts. I kid you not. It's HYSTERICAL.

He was a kitten from an accidental litter from one of my sister's cats. He's 2 1/2 and has lived with us his whole life. My sister has his brother too, which is pretty cool.
Skeezix, you crack us up! What a cool cat you are!

We dont' have vishus deer here, but yesterday Mo and Violet had to deal with something even worse - Small People. :) Yes, this being a happy family farm, occasionally we get hordes of Small People here visiting. They are loud and have sticky hands, and love to grab tails!

Mo, being the Sr. Canip Control Inspector, does not let them burst his "kitty-cool". He does , however, twitch his tail and run for the door. Violet takes one look and HIDES.

Guess I should introduce the Prairieland Herbs feline gang officially, hmm? I'll do that.....

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Mo and Violet, two of our shop kitties, being super-cute, sleeping in the sun. :)

They give a big shout out to Missy Blue Eyes and all the other cat-bloggers that support their owners by buying catnip!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Here's a shout out to all our cat-blogging friends, and a big thanks to ML and Missy Blue Eyes for sending them our way!

Our FOUR shop cats (yes, FOUR...can you believe it?) Violet, Sassy, Moe and Go all say hello! We have some pictures to post later, but for now, we just wanted to get in a quick hello to all cat bloggers. :) We've distilled lots of catnip for our catnip hydrosol spray, and are currently harvesting what is probably the last of our dried catnip for the year. :) And don't forget - your purchase of our Bonky Balls helps support our friends at Iowa Parrot Rescue!

Friday, September 22, 2006

This is Toby - Maggie's nephew, Donna's grandson. He's 5, and loooove to "help" us in the shop. He was helping to make milk baths one day, and of course, being 5, he stuck his hand in our giant vat of cornstarch, and discovered that it "feels funny" when you smoosh it with your hands. Which it does. So the other day while we were all being boring grownups (i.e. working), he helped himself to a bowl of cornstarch and smooshed it to his little 5 year old heart's content. And this is what he, and our shop, looked like!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Okay! We're down to ONE space in our sopamaking class. And I've had OODLES of people tell me they want to sign up for this Saturday's class, or that they're going to sign up for this Saturday's class (Herbal Harvest), but, as of yet...NOBODY has actually done so. SO, if you're wanting to, please do! Otherwise we'll have to cancel it.

Yesterday, we had a blast cutting flowers to dry. We cut enough for 36 bundles, they're in the drying shed right now. Where did the summer go?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A quick bit of news-ey stuff. We have only TWO spots left in our Sept. 30th Soapmaking 101 class, so if you're interested, sign up quickly! Otherwise, Karla will have another class mid-December (unless you whine *really* loud to us and then we whine *really* loud to her and maybe she will do one before then. But we don't have any scheduled.).

Also, we're sorry to say, we are temporarily out of the African Black Gel soap. We expect to have some by the end of this week, so, feel free to order it, and we will ship it when it is ready. Thank you for your patience! :)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

WHEW! What a week! We had the Midwest Travel Writers tour through on Thursday. They were GREAT! They were only on the farm a half hour, but they were attentive, asked great questions, took pictures, and did some shopping. Yay Midwest Travel Writers! You all can come back anytime. :)

Found out, randomly, that if you google "shampoo bars" , we show up as the number one hit. Isn't that cool? :) That's a good thing - I imagine with this new ban on flying-with-liquids, more people will be interested in getting solid soaps and shampoos and things.

We started our big, 8th birthday open house this Friday, and it runs through today. We worked our tails off to get ready! Mom has been just about killing herself to get things weeded and mulched, and you can REALLY tell. the gardens look fabulous! It's starting to feel very fall-ish...I really need to get harvesting our flowers for drying, and get distilling some of the "tropical" herbs, like lemongrass, lemon eucalyptus, and regular eucalyptus.

But I digress. The open house. We had some lovely guest vendors yesterday, and will today too. Gorgeous silver jewelry (some of which mom and I had to buy!), and beautiful gifts and crafts from Mexico. Today Picket Fence Creamery and Northern Prairie Chevre (our two neighbors - a Jersey cow dairy and goat cheese producers) both have oodles of samples, bands, wine samples, and things like that so...I expect it to be very busy. Let's hope the weather cooperates!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Whew. Here we are with a blog. how 'bout that? I've been meaning to start one for ages, and just did it. So, here goes!

We're innundated with FRUIT right now. it's the time of the year when the garden goes nuts. We're drying, distilling, gathering, harvesting, canning, and eating. I just finished the elderberries, made lots of syrup and jam. Now I'm working on grapes (we have sooooo many grapes, and they're really good this year!) and we discovered that we have a crapabble tree. Who knew? We thought it was a plum bush gone beserk until it gave us crapabbles. LOTS of crabapples. Which make wonderful jelly. I've got 3 more cases of jars and about 15 lbs of sugar. I wonder what will run out first?