Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Just passing along some information we got from our neighbors at Picket Fence Creamery.


Happy New Year from Picket Fence Creamery!
Just a quick note to wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year, and to let you know what's happening around the farm as we usher in 2009!!! The "ladies" are snug in the barn, along with 13 bottle calves, with about a dozen more cows to calve in the next month. You're welcome to bring the kids and walk up to the barn to say hello to all of them!
The store is full of goodes for your New Year's celebration, and is also hosting a special event...
Jill's "39th" Birthday Party"
Wednesday, Dec. 31
At the store, open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Enjoy FREE birthday cake and ice cream!
You're invited to browse to store for some yummy local foods - great for the big football games too!
*Elk sticks, elk and pepper cheese summer sausage, and elk ring bologna
*Neva's famous cheese ball
*Cheese curds
*Iowa wines, including Penoach Winery's "Tickled Pink" champagne
*Salsa, chips, snacks
*Chocolate milk
*Deal's cider
*Chevre, Brie, Limburger and local Gouda cheeses
*Pumpkin pies
Super Deals
*90% lean ground beef, $3.49/lb. with 10 lb. purchase (Reg. $3.99/lb.)
*Apple crisp and quart of ice cream - $10
*WOW! Buy any jar of local salsa and get a bag of fresh round tortilla chips for $1!!!
You're welcome to stop by if you're traveling through this week or weekend; we'll be sampling Iowa wines! Our hours:
New Year's Eve - 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
New Year's Day - 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, Jan. 1-2 - 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A bit of shameless self-promotion here. Well, sort of shameless. Some folks have been asking when I'm going to get new stuff in my Etsy store, and I did - so here are some choice listings!

Everything here is naturally dyed - the scarves and hankies are silk, as are the shawls.

There are also a few pieces of rust-dyed cotton fabric, perfect for sewing or quilting.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Freebie Friday!

We hope you all had a delightful holiday - whatever you celebrate. We sure did! We had our annual Christmas Eve soup and pie dinner (Donna made this absolutely AMAZING Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie - I cannot STRESS how divine it was) and much fun was had. :)

The winner of last week's freebie (an 8 oz. bottle of Lavender & Vanilla Mist) was ASTER!! Aster, drop us an email with your address and we will ship that out next week!

This weeks Friday Freebie is - a 5-pack (Your choice of varities) of our handmade lip balms!! Our lip balm was one of the first products Prairieland Herbs ever created, and I still believe to be one of the best. Vanilla Bean is Donna's personal favorite - I am partial to the Tea Tree and Mint.
Anyway, as usual, here's how it works:

If you'd like to win the item - you must leave a comment on today's blog post.

1) One entry per person.
2) You must have a registered ID to post - if your post shows up under "anonymous", we don't know who you are, and therefore you can't win.
3) You have until the next Thursday at midnight, CST, to enter your comment.
4) Winner will be announced the following Friday - you must check back to see if it's you!
5) International folks are welcome. We ship Prairieland Herbs items all over the world, so we'll ship our "Friday freebie" anywhere too!
6) Each eligible post will be assigned a number, and we'll use a free online random number generator to determine the winner.

In other news - Prairieland Herbs is CLOSED until next Tuesday, Dec. 30th. We almost never, ever, EVER take any time off, so we are treating ourselves to a few luxurious days of vacation.

The weather here is FANTASTIC. After an extra cold, snowy, and icy start to December, we are suddenly gifted with a 50 degree sunny day. I've been cleaning my garage in a t-shirt. Go figure, huh? Our 10 inches of snow is, of course, rapidly melting and turning EVERYTHING into mud - and when it goes down to 29 degrees, as it's predicted to tonight, the whole world will be a solid sheet of ice. So that stinks. But still, you gotta enjoy a little warmth and sunshine while it's here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Today is your last day to order e-gift certificates for Christmas delivery! We'll be at the shop until 5 PM CST and will be emailing gift certs. until then!

Last minute folks, we're open today, but closed tomorrow, so this is your last chance for shopping before Christmas!

Our $5 shipping sale runs through the end of the year, however.....so you can treat yourself to some great goodies at a fantastic shipping rate.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to pick up ingredients for my favorite holiday recipe - Mulled Berry Wine. Here is the recipe for you to enjoy too!

Mulled Berry Wine

1 pint cranberry (or raspberry) juice cocktail
3/4 cup sugar
2 sticks cinnamon
6 whole cloves
1 bottle (4/5 qt) Burgundy wine
1 lemon, thinly sliced (unpeeled)

Combine ingredients in a crock-pot. Heat on low 1-2 hours. Strain, and serve hot. Can be refrigerated and reheated again if it is not all consumed at once.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I just sent the LAST of the holiday gifts out at the post office today!! Whee!!


Top Seven Signs it's Christmas at Prairieland Herbs (in no particular order)

1). We are, like, BFF with the local postal crews. We see them once or twice a day, and could wallpaper our shop with the reciepts we get from the post office. (That, folks, is absolutely NOT an exaggeration).

2). We are on nearly as good terms with Paul, our fantastic UPS guy. He is at our shop nearly every day dropping off boxes of bottles, jars, pails of shea butter, etc.

3). We go through what we consider to be astonishing amounts of raw "stuff". In the past month, we've used about 8 lbs of lavender essential oil (Consider that it's used at approximately 3% dilution in most products....and just ponder how many bath salts and oils that is!), 400 lbs. sea salt, about 20 gallons of base oils, and 25 lbs of shea butter. Running a herb shop requires more heavy lifting than you would imagine.

4). We forget what day it is - because we're at the shop nearly every day, shipping orders. (not a complaint!)

5). Donna and Maggie overdose on Diet Dr. Pepper and carbonated water (respectively), forget to eat, and then consume mass quantities of handmade candies because that is the only food we can find. (sad, but true).

6) There is a solid layer of packing peanuts, bubble wrap scraps, tape bits, and gift-basket shread on the floor at nearly all times. We sweep thoroughly at least once a day, but, by the end of the day, a fresh new layer has settled on the floor again, as if by magic.....

7) We have a blast shipping presents, helping folks pick out the perfect gift, meeting visiting family members, and generally enjoy the holiday cheer, because our customers are the best folks in the world and we adore them!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

It's ridiculously cold here.


It's going to get colder in the next 24 hours. GAH!

The low for tonight is -5, with windchills as low as -30. We had lovely whiteout/blowing snow conditions driving home from the farmer's market today - always delightful.

The HIGH temp for tomorrow is -1, (can anything negative actually be called HIGH?), again, with delightful -30 windchill factor.

The low temp for tomorrow night is a wicked -14. I seriously cannot fathom it. I will be cuddled in my house, on the couch, with cats piled all around me. (The good thing about living with 8 cats - your lap never gets cold).

Right now, we're watching the wind - we have no specific plans to cancel tomorrow's Sample Sunday due to weather, BUT - if there's loads of blowing snow, our driveway or road could drift shut. I will post here on the blog if that is an issue.

Are you tired of listening to me whine about the cold? Okay. I'll post something slightly more interesting.Some of you may notice that we are slowly updating our website photos, from old crappy ones I took (hey, I did the best I could with zero photography skills and an ancient camera) to really nice spanky new ones, such as you see above.

They look pretty nice, huh? clean and professional.

Well, they were done by our resident "king of cheap DIY lighting and photo gear" guy. He can do amazing things with sheets of glass gotten for free off craig's list, yogurt lids, sticks-in-coffee-cans-full-of-cement, and bits of remnant fabric and pvc pipe.

For example, this photo above was taking in my living room - here is the "setup shot" (complete with coffee mug and dog food bowl).

This gorgeous photo was taken in a simple basement room. (see photo below).

There are loads more of these product and setup shots, complete with notes and info, on John's Flickr, if you're interested. I just think it's fascinating to see the setup behind the photos, and thought you might too. Enjoy!

Friday, December 19, 2008

First and foremost - I'd like to announce last week's Freebie Friday winner - MATT! Matt, we'll send you an email to get your address. Congratulations!!!!

And - this week's "Friday Freebie" - an 8 oz. bottle of our "Tranquil Sleep" Body & Linens Mist. Because we all need to take a deep breath and chill out, after the craziness of the holiday season! This is a perennial best-selling item in our store, and we have heard countless people tell us that it really does work!! Plus, it smells great. :)

Da Rulz:

If you'd like to win the item - you must leave a comment on that day's blog post.

1) One entry per person.
2) You must have a registered ID to post - if your post shows up under "anonymous", we don't know who you are, and therefore you can't win.
3) You have until the next Thursday at midnight, CST, to enter your comment.
4) Winner will be announced the following Friday - you must check back to see if it's you!
5) International folks are welcome. We ship Prairieland Herbs items all over the world, so we'll ship our "Friday freebie" anywhere too!
6) Each eligible post will be assigned a number, and we'll use a free online random number generator to determine the winner.


Weather news: We seem to have escaped the huge ice storm they were predicting for yesterday. We have snow, and some ice, and last night were treated to "thundersleet" (ah, the weather in Iowa - always interesting!!), but overall, things aren't too bad. The fellow who is supposed to plow out our driveway and parking lot at Prairieland Herbs seems to be MIA though. We have left 2 messages and have yet to hear from him. So if you come to our shop today, please be careful!!!


Business news: We're getting ready for the farmer's market tomorrow - should be loads of fun!

Sunday we're having an impromptu Sample Sunday, in conjunction with our neighbors at Picket Fence Creamery - and it's going to be a doozy!!!

At Picket Fence, they're sampling wines from TEN LOCAL WINERIES (!!!) and oodles of cheese! Local gouda, limberger, chevre, brie, cheese curds, spreadable holiday cheeses, their famous cheeseball, and more!!

At Prairieland Herbs - we will be sampling divine handmade candies (peanut butter bars, english toffee, and cashew crunch) as well as a selection of locally made gourmet jams and jellies. Candy and jams both sell for $5 and under - it doesn't get much bette than that. Guest vendors will be on hand with unique handmade jewelry, and handmade pens. If you need a last minute gift (or three) and want to avoid the malls, rural Woodward is the place to be! We'll treat you right, and feed ya good. What more can you ask for??

We'll be open 12-5 on Sunday - see you there!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

GOOD NEWS regarding the proposed FDA regulations that would have made it very, very difficult for us to stay in business!

Weather here has been insane. Sunday, we had an actual temperature drop of 50 degrees (yes, really) in about 12 hours - but, it *felt* like it dropped about 70 degrees, because of the wind chill factor. At 9 AM Sunday morning it was a balmy 50 degrees. By 1 pm it was 17 degrees, and by about 10 PM it was 1 degree with a windchill of around -20. Only in Iowa!

We are gearing up for the Des Moines Farmer's Market this Saturday. Hours: 9-2. It's a WONDERFUL market, I encourage everyone to stop by for fabulous local wine, food, jam, and gifts! If you'd like us to bring anything in particular for you, please do email or call! We bring a very random selection of items every time. The store WILL be open so feel free to come on out to the farm and Donna will be delighted to help you!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

HOLIDAY Shippping & Hours Info:

Last day to order for holiday shipping: Sunday, Dec. 21st. (earlier is better!)

Last day to order online gift cards: Tuesday, Dec. 23rd, 5pm CST.

We WILL BE CLOSED: Wed, Dec. 24th until Tuesday, Dec. 30th.

We WILL BE OPEN: Sunday, December 21st, 12-5

Also: New delicious recipe online! Lavender Honey Biscotti. Divine! Biscotti makes a lovely holiday gift, becasuse it keeps well and ships well. Don't forget our Triple Chocolate Double Orange biscotti recipe too!

Friday, December 12, 2008

CONGRATULATIONS to HEATHER from Nebraska - she is the winner of last Friday's "Friday Freebie" - a 1 lb. bag of laundry soap! Heather, please email us at shop (at) prairielandherbs (dot) com with your address, and we'll ship it right out. :)

This week's Friday Freebie is a Doggie Bag! Valued at $10, this is a great gift for the pampered pooch in your life. If you don't have a pet, surely someone you know and love does!

Once again, here are the rules:
Here's how it works.

Every Friday, we'll post something that we're giving away - entirely for free. It could be something small, or something large - it will vary from week to week.

If you'd like to win the item - you must leave a comment on that day's blog post.

1) One entry per person.
2) You must have a registered ID to post - if your post shows up under "anonymous", we don't know who you are, and therefore you can't win.
3) You have until the next Thursday at midnight, CST, to enter your comment.
4) Winner will be announced the following Friday - you must check back to see if it's you!
5) International folks are welcome. We ship Prairieland Herbs items all over the world, so we'll ship our "Friday freebie" anywhere too!
6) Each eligible post will be assigned a number, and we'll use a free online random number generator to determine the winner.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Well, it's official. I've been banned from work. You know it's bad when your mother calls you and says "Keep your germy self at home. If you make me sick, I will hurt you". I'm a good daughter, so I'm doing what she says. And she is at work all by herself today, so if you order, say hi to her. :)

Meanwhile, I'm doing a bit of work from home, working on the "updating the website photos" project, and adding this new and super-cool Natural Laundry Gift Set. For only $32.50 you get a full 1 lb. bag of laundry soap, a set of dryer sachets, a bottle of essential oil to refresh the dryer sachets, and an 8 oz. bottle of body and linens mists. Isn't that just the coolest? Anyone who is interested in "going green" at home would love this set. It's available in 3 scent combos - Lavender, Patchouli, or Lavender/Cedarwood, and with our $5 shipping sale, you can have this set sent to anyone in the U.S. for under $40. I think that' s just really cool.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Well, the storm was not as much as was expected - HOWEVER, it did leave unpleasant and VERY Slippery layer of ice underneath a slightly less slippery layer of snow. A very bad combo. :(

I (maggie) am home with the worst sinus infection I've had in years (big huge raspberry to the germs in my head - don't they know I have better things to do than lay on the couch, feel my head pound, and blow my nose?).

So, while we recover from ice and infections, please - do go visit our friend Tina's blog - She is doing an AMAZING series on "DIY" herbal gifts for the holidays. She is just full of knowledge and creativity - I always enjoy reading her blog to see what she is up to. She is inspiring me - there is still time to whip up loads of handmade holiday gifts!!

Monday, December 08, 2008

The December luxury soap of the month is here!!! "Malachite" is a fantastic blend of amazing, moisturizing butters and oils, with a icy/fresh/herbal essential oil blend of f rosemary, ginger, lavender anise, peppermint, and spearmint. Smells like an expensive rejuvenation spa! We have 60 bars of this fantastic soap (wrapped in handmade paper!) - when it's gone, it's gone!

We're hunkering in here - cold, icy, windy, snowy storm due to hit tonight. ugh. we'll keep you poted......

Sunday, December 07, 2008

It's damn cold here - especially for this early in December. The other day, we had rain, followed by snow and rapidly dropping temps. You know what that means - ice. Urgh. :( The only good thing about it, was this gorgeous ice sculpture that appeared. The rain ran off the metal roof on the barn, down onto this bit of chicken wire - then froze. John got a great picture of it just as the low, late-afternoon sun was shining on it. I guess there is always beauty - in any kind of weather!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Happy Friday!!

We've decided to start something new and exciting here on the Prairieland Herbs Blog - Freebie Friday!

Here's how it works.

Every Friday, we'll post something that we're giving away - entirely for free. It could be something small, or something large - it will vary from week to week.

If you'd like to win the item - you must leave a comment on that day's blog post.

1) One entry per person.
2) You must have a registered ID to post - if your post shows up under "anonymous", we don't know who you are, and therefore you can't win.
3) You have until the next Thursday at midnight, CST, to enter your comment.
4) Winner will be announced the following Friday - you must check back to see if it's you!
5) International folks are welcome. We ship Prairieland Herbs items all over the world, so we'll ship our "Friday freebie" anywhere too!
6) Each eligible post will be assigned a number, and we'll use a free online random number generator to determine the winner.

I hope that makes sense, and covers everything!

Now, without further ado - this weeks Friday Freebie is a 1 lb. bag of our Lavender Laundry Soap (shown above).

We've been selling this in the shop for months and it's flown out the door so fast we haven't had enough to list online. Karla finally made a nice, big batch, so we have some to offer our online customers! This stuff is fantastic. Use it in this recipe to make your own environmentally friendly, cost-effective natural laundry detergent. It REALLy works too - we make some really stinky oily messes in the shop (think: spilled lip balm, shea butter, and essential oils!), and this detergent cleans it all out. Wonderful stuff.

So, comment away, dear bloggers - and if you can't wait to see if you've won a free lb. of this wonderful soap - feel free to stop by our website to purchase some. Remember, all domestic orders ship for only $5 - all month long.

Monday, December 01, 2008

It's December!

It's Cyber Monday!

So, we're offering $5 Flat Rate Shipping on all US orders, from now until 2009. WOW!

That's our holiday gift to you!!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Yesterday started with some rather dreary rain.....

...which then turned into snow. I thought it looked rather pretty on this horehound - it's kind of hard to see though, because horehound itself is sort of an icy-grey-green.

Today the world is covered in white!!

In other news. THE CANDY arrived. Those of you who know what I am talking about already have your coat and shoes on and are out the door, driving to the shop, to get in line for this fantastic candy.

For those of you who don't know about THE CANDY - it is a Prairieland Herbs tradition. Years ago, we discovered this wonderful woman, and Amish lady from southernmost Iowa, who makes the most. divine. candies. EVER. Every year we send her a little card and a handwritten note with our order. A few weeks later, our favorite postal carrier brings in boxes and boxes of this divine handmade candy. We have: Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars, Cashew Crunch, and English Toffee. They are all divine. My favorite is whichever one I ate last. That is how good they are.

So, we have some 70+ 8 oz. containers of these amazing candies, and when they're gone, we won't have them until next year. Local folks, stop in and stock up now! These make great gifts for older folks, hard-to-buy-for dads, teachers, Secret Santa recipients, and, oh yeah - anyone with taste buds.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I left my camera at work, folks - sorry, no pretty pictures today.

Just a few housekeeping notes. We have FIVE "Flying Moon" soaps left. They will be gone VERY soon. if you want one (or three, or five) order now!

We WILL be open Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving - our usual hours, 10-5. Bring the family, and visit us and our neighbors at Picket Fence Creamery! (alas, our neighbors to the North, Nothern Prairie Chevre, will be closed those days - but will re-open next week).

Monday, November 24, 2008

We're getting stocked up for the holiday season. Last Thursday, I picked up our co-op order. Every other month, we get loaded up with bulk materials to make our products. A typical order is: 55 lb bag turbinado sugar, 4 or 6 - 50 lb. bags of sea salt, 8 or 12 gallons of vinegar, 25 lbs. of cornstarch, and 25 lbs of dried milk. Sometimes we need organic oats too. All of this stuff is used to make our scrubs, bath salts, milk baths, and hair vinegars. It's always good exercise - lugging that stuff from the co-op dropoff site ( a local church) to the van, then from the van to the shop or classroom. Whew. Who knew that running a herb shop required so much heavy lifting?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Well. It's cold, and all the leaves are finally gone off the trees. We discovered, to our excitement, that we had BITTERSWEET!! We had planted several bittersweet plants years and years ago, and waited anxiously for them to bloom and bear fruit. Nothing. So we read...and figured, well, maybe we don't have a "boy" and "girl" (you need both sexes of plants.... and they came unlabelled at the nursery where we bought them.). So every year we've been planting one or two more plants, assuming that eventually they'd, you know, get busy. (heh). FINALLY! We have beautiful bittersweet. it is so pretty! now I've got to get out there and harvest it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Whew. Big order - finished. Shown here is the order we delivered to the Soap Opera in Iowa City. So, for you Prairieland Herbs fans in the Iowa City area - there's a ton of our stuff there just now, so stop on in and shop! It's a WONDERFUL store, I had a great time visiting it on Saturday!

For reference, those boxes are all full, and stacked as tall as me. :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

I thought I'd amuse you all with some shots of our ultra-fancy organizational systems. :) This is our brain - our calender for the year. This is where we mark all our events - classes, bus tours, farmer's markets,anything we have going on. We did without one of these for years, but I'm not sure how.

here is our ultra-organized (ha) inventory tracking system. A whiteboard, with a list of stuff we are getting low on. By "stuff", I mean raw materials such as tins, oils, butters, essential oils, etc.

And here are the "in process" wholesale orders. This one is a BIG one, which will go to Iowa city hopefully tomorrow.

And 2 small ones in progress.

In short - our systems are not fancy, but they WORK. See, if I wanted to run a bakery - I'd go work at a bakery, and learn the flow of it, then visit lots of bakeries to check out how they are set up and how they operate. We don't know anyone, in the area, who does what we do on our scale, so we had to make it all up from scratch, which is harder than you might think. We didn't know what kind of space we'd need, how to organize it, and how to anticipate our needs. So we guessed, and have learned to make do with what we have. I'll post some pictures of our work areas pretty soon so you can see what I mean.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Can't write now. must crank Tom Waits albums and make bath salts.

While I do that, print off this recipe, and then make it. It's SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO delicious, and perfect for fall. (archived on our site here)


Every year, we sponsor a cooking contest at the Iowa State Fair, which has the largest food department in the nation! Thousands upon thousands of foods are entered, and we feel honored to be a part of this fun event. PLUS, we get to eat really, really good foods, and then get to bring back the recipes to share with you! This recipe was a 1st place winner and tastes AMAZING. This would be a great addition to any holiday feast, but we also think it's great as a side-dish anytime. We'd like to thank Sally Kilkenny, author of this recipe - she is an amazing cook that astounds us with new, delicious herbal recipes every year.

Herbed Pumpkin Mushroom Stuffing

6 cups cubed pumpkin bread

1 cup butter

1 cup chopped celery

2 cups chopped red onion

2 cups sliced mushrooms (portabella, crimini, portini, or your favorite blend)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

1 1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. ground black pepper

1/4 to 1/2 cup chicken broth*

optional: chopped, toasted pecans**

Spread cubes on a baking sheet and let dry overnight, or heat in a 200 degree oven until dry. Preheat oven to 375 and butter a 2 qt. baking dish.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium/low heat. Sautee celery and onions for about 10 minutes, then add mushrooms and continue cooking for about 8 minutes, or until tender. Add fresh herbs, salt, and papper. Fold in bread cubes and add enough broth to moisten. Transfer to prepared dish and cover with foil.

Bake for about 40 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 10 minutes, or until top is crisp. Garnish with fresh herbs and pecans.

* vegetarian Maggie suggests a nice vegetable broth as an alternative - Swanson's make a lovely certified organic veggie broth.

** We LOVE the pecans in this - and suggest adding whole, toasted pecans in the stuffing instead of sprinkled on top afterwards.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Making 25 lbs. of peppermint bath salts all at once reeeeeeealy clears out your sinuses.

In case anyone was wondering.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Well, it appears that winter is on it's way.

We had snow already, which I find disgusting beyond belief. It actually snowed all day last Friday. The ground was warm, so there was barely any accumulation - a mere dusting of snow that melted on Saturday. But STILL. snow. :(

It's been grey, overcast, windy, and cold for the last few days. I think we narrowly missed an ice storm last night. This morning my deck, grill and fence were covered with ice, but the roads and driveways are fine.

It always surprises me how many people assume that our farm closes for the winter, or that we get to our "slow season" after the harvest is done. HARDLY! During October, as the harvest and garden work is winding down, we make a concerted effort to start stocking the store. See, we make, package,and label darn near everything in our little shop - which takes an awful darn lot of time. Not only do we do that, but we of course have to make sure all our herbs are dried and stores, and that we have FULL stores of all of our essential oils, butters, containers and labels. Plus keep the website updated, blog, and write a newsletter. All in all, our days are quite full. And as we get nearer to the holidays, we just get busier and busier. The time from October until the end of December is like running a marathon - it's a long haul, and we get really really tired (and a little loopy as we get nearer the "finish line").

But it's FUN too, cuz, see - we're like Santa's Elves. We make things that make people happy - nice smelling, happy gifts for people to give to the folks they love. People that come into our store are deliberately avoiding the "box" stores and the malls. It's relaxed, it's fun, they're happy to be out of the crowds and commercial gross-ness of the big stores, and we're happy to help them. We take time to do custom gift baskets, and gift wrap for free. We are grateful to our customers, because they allow us to do what we love - live and work this land, make fantastic products, and enjoy the seasons. So, it's a lot of work, and we do get tired at the end, but it's also a joy.

Speaking of work. I have about 150 lbs of bath salts to make. Those will go to three different stores, and our shop. Then, I have to make about 10 batches (around 100 bags) of milk baths. But first, I do want to take a moment to rave about a fellow small business owner.....

....Aroma Artisan. See - we've been working around essential oils and scents, professionally, for about 10 years now. And the longer we work with scents....the pickier we get. You have to work HARD to impress us with a perfume, or scrub, or bar of soap. But Aroma Artisan has set the bar VERY, VERY high. In short, her products are AMAZING. She makes absolutely divine handmade, small-batch, essential oil perfumes, which I cannot recommend highly enough. I have several of her perfumes, and each one is divine. Visit her etsy site and do NOT hesitate to order from her - I've yet to have anything from her that is not top-notch!!!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

We have kittens. We always try NOT to have kittens - all of our friendly farmcats are of course spayed and neutered. However, it's a farm, and having a feral cat or two in the barn is unfortunately a common occurrence. We have a feral tabby that had 2 kittens, which we caught and tamed. And, 2 slightly older kittens were dumped on the road outside our house. So, we have 4 kittens in need of homes. Above, is Princess Miranda. a VERY long-haired torti - she will need to go to a home where someone will be wiling to brush her and help care for her long glorious coat! She was one of the feral kittens that were dumped on our road. She is now super-loving, athletic, and very playful!
This is little stripey (not yet named). She is a talker - BOY is she a talker! Quite cuddly, she is one of the younger ones that was born in our barn. She has a sister, and all-black kitten we call Burdock, because she sticks to you like glue. She declined to be photographed for this blog -she was too busy sitting on the photographer's shoulder. She really will sit on your shoulder for hours if you let her, even if you're wandering around the house doing dishes or putting the laundry away, etc.

And this little beauty is a beautiful grey tabico (mostly tabby, with a few bits of calico marking). She's very loving and the most playful of the bunch!! She was one of the feral ones found by the road.

They have all been wormed and treated for fleas. We are hoping to get them spayed through the local animal protection agency, for very low cost. If you are interested in a kitten, please do let us know, as these are up for adoption to good homes!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Do you like to buy handmade soaps, lip balms, and other bath products?

Do you like to have a choice between buying handmade beauty products, and "big box" products?

Do you believe that small businesses such as ours should be allowed to make and sell natural bodycare products?

If you do - please visit this site, read about the FDA Globalization Act of 2008, and sign the petition against this act.

FDA Globalization Act of 2008 Petition

Handmade soaps and bodycare products have been made, safely and with integrity, for hundreds of the years. The FDA wants to impose legislation that would make it highly difficult for small businesses such as ours to continue to do so. If you find that unacceptable, please tell your congressperson so.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

I've been very lax about posting pictures lately - I'm sorry, everyone! it has been a busy few weeks. heck, it's been a busy month. I'm not sure where it went? We didn't even have time to do an October e-newsletter!!! Anyway, here are a few photos, taken yesterday. We had a "hard" freeze about a week ago, but have had gorgeous weather (almost 70! balmy, sunny - I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt) since then. Go figure. The cold-hardy herbs - mints, catnip, sage, thyme, are still green and lovely, but most of the others are either harvested or just - done. The photo above is a shot of our annual herb beds.

The farmers were delighted with the week of sunshine and dry weather - all around us, the fields are bare and empty, like this one.

And here are 2 of the "babies" - the miniature horse "kids" grow so fast! Baron is on the left, and Delafino is on the right.

More soon......

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

We've had a BUSY month here at Prairieland Herbs, and have gotten a wee bit behind on some things.....such as our Luxury Soap of the Month. But I've finally got it posted online. "Flying Moon" is a luscious, heady blend of ylang-ylang (an exotic floral) and pure vanilla absolute. Enhanced with organic goat's milk, black cocoa butter, aloe extract, pumpkin seed oil (how very seasonal!!!), silk fibers, AND shea butter - well, wow. I just don't know what else to say except....oh yeah. FANTABULOUS. There are about 50 bars, and they WILL go fast.....

We have exactly TWO spots left in this coming Saturday's class - Compost-dyeing With Natural Dyestuffs. It's gonna be GREAT - if you're at all interested, do sign up! The scarf above was compost-dyed, then treated with ammonia as a post mordant (and, as a shameless plug, is available for sale in Maggie's Etsy Store....

Friday, October 17, 2008

Heather recently gave us a lovely product review on her blog, and in the comments on that blog, she got a variation on that age-old question - "Why do they use lye to make soap? Isn't lye a toxic substance?".

This is a very, VERY common question that we get asked. Anyone who makes or sells handmade soap will invariably get asked this question. Heather did not know the answer to that question, so she asked us. We LOVE when customers ask questions!!! We wrote her a response, which she put on her blog (with our express permission). Because this is such a commonly asked question, I thought we'd put the answer here as well.


Let's start with the very basics. You cannot make soap without lye. Soap is
made by a chemical reaction occuring between fats (oils) and lye (sodium
hydroxide, or other similar alkaline substance....but we won't diverge into
that just now). The phrase "chemical reaction" is very important there - in
other words, those 2 ingredients, combine together and than CHANGE, to form
soap. Properly made soap, while made WITH lye, will not have any lye in it
at the end of the process. You will have saponified oils - also known as
soap. A quick check at your local library on any current cold process
soapmaking book will confirm those facts, as will this well-respected
soapmaking site: http://www.millersoap.com/SoapFAQs.html

Yes, Lye is a substance that must be treated with much respect. Improperly
used, it can be quite dangerous. However, used with care, caution, and
respect, it will turn ordinary oils into divine handmade soap that is very
good for your skin! As a point of fact, lye is also used to cure certain
types of food, such as lutefisk, hominy, and green olives. For more
information, you may visit this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lye

There are many way to label soap -all falling within the letter of the law,
but some that "hide" the lye more than others. We believe in educating the
public, therefore we have "sodium hydroxide" listed right in the ingredients
list. Other soaps will have labels that say things like: "Saponified oils of
coconut, palm kernel, and olive", or list ingredients as "sodium tallowate"
or "sodium cocoate" (translation: saponified tallow, and saponified coconut
oil). These labels are technically correct - and still point to the same
process - lye combined with oils to create soap.

Liquid soap is handmade with a slightly different type of lye - Potassium
hydroxide, instead of sodium hydroxide ( or sometimes a combination of
both). The above facts remain the same, however - To make any soap, liquid
or bar, fats/oils must be combined with lye, and saponification then

Melt and pour soap is a quite different product - it is often comprised of
synthetic detergents, and we do not consider it a handmade product. Most
commercial liquid bodywashes are also quite full of synthetic sudsing
agents, colorants, petroleum-by-products and goodness knows what else -
frankly, we don't even consider them in the same realm as handmade soaps. We
personally prefer good handmade soap, made with lye, to artificial
ingredients we cannot pronounce. But to each their own!! :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

We have another 3-farm Sample Sunday coming up this Sunday, October 19th! Join us at each of our 3 farms, between 12-5, and spend a delightful day in the country, sampling the harvest bounty of the midwest.

Here's what's happening:

Prairieland Herbs

Pete Mahlberg, from Dallas County Conservation, will be giving a talk on
"Critters of Dallas County" at 1pm. Perfect for the whole family! He will be on hand all afternoon
to answer questions, and share his display of artifacts and critters.

Guest Vendor Sally Kilkenny will be sampling and selling her delicious homemade jams!

Mary DouBrava will be giving free 5 minute Reiki treatments - a great chance to experience this energetic healing art.

Kristin Wilson, of Zoko Jewelry, will be selling her fantastic handmade jewelry.

We will be sampling our newest Biscuit Bars (soaps), check out our naturally dyed silk scarves from Girl With A Sword Productions, and we still have a few spots left for our Natural Cleansers and Natural Dyeing classes!!

Picket Fence Creamery

Hay rides in the pasture. Local food samples: pumpkin ice cream, elk sticks, cheese balls, tortellini,fresh peanut butter, Elvis muffins, Heirloom apples, honey, apple cider, Iowa wine & more.

$5 Lunch – Brats,fixins’, chips, milk & ice cream (Kids meal $3).

Kids – pony rides, hay maze, calves, kittens & free pencils.

Super Deals – 90% lean ground beef - $2.99/lb. with 10 lb. purchase; 5 lb bag local apples - $5; AppleCrisp & quart of ice cream $10.

NEWLocal gouda cheese & local homemade apple pies; free half pint ofice cream with $25 purchase; free coolers while they last.

(Maggie's note - THE GOUDA IS DIVINE. I've been getting this at the des moines farmer's market every chance I could get, and could NOT be happier that I can now buy it at Picket Fence. YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Northern Prairie Chevre

Bring your lawn chairs and enjoy the music and singing of Tim Mitchum.

Snus Hill Winery, Tassel Ridge Winery, and La Vida Loca Winery will give out samples of their award-winning wines – all for sale in Miss Tillie’s !

Winter is coming! We’re raffling a beautiful hand- crocheted afghan that would make
a wonderful gift for that special someone – or yourself! Tickets are $1/ea or 6 for $5. Proceeds go to theSusan G. Komen Foundation.

Milton from Sheeder Farms will be selling bratwurst sandwiches for just $3!!
Chris has the deep fat fryer heated up and is selling Northern Prairie Chevre Fried Cheddar Curds for just$4. Delicious baked goods from Corn Crib Catering in Madrid.

Relax with Shannon, Massage Therapist, who is offering chair massages - $10/10 min. Mary Boyvey, Hoopnotica Certified instructor will be offering free classes on the hour (see photo below - that is her at the last Sample Sunday!), and have hoops available for all ages to try and/or purchase. Pat from Randol Honey will be sampling her creamed honey. Stock up on Sheeder Farms meats and eggs & various cuts of elk from Skeeter Creek Elk.

Kids – enjoy the swings and sand box in the front yard and make a special craft.
Six little 4-legged girls are looking for your attention!! Gary, Wendy and Lana will be giving
tours of the barn and will introduce you to all the girls. Honeybump and Stosha are looking
for kisses too! Come on in to Miss Tillie’s for samples of our cheese and MUCH MORE!

Monday, October 13, 2008

The pre-frost harvest continues....Yesterday I cut the last of our purple basil, to turn into delicious jelly. For those of you that don't know, purple basil has a very similar leaf shape and taste to "regular" pesto, but it is a DIVINE purple color. So, you can do really cool things like make purple basil vinegar with it, or make purple pesto.

Making purple basil vinegar couldn't be easier. You simply stuff fresh purple basil leaves into a glass jar, cover with vinegar, and let steep for a week or so. Strain out the leaves, and you have a gorgeous ruby-colored vinegar infused with the flavor of herbs. Salad, anyone?

Making Purple basil jelly is super-easy too - I have posted the recipe to our website. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

This is SO exciting. Last year, we purchased a few saffron bulbs from The Rosemary House, just for fun - I mean, isn't it a great idea to grow the world's most costliest spice in your backyard? These little plants are amazing! They are a fall-blooming crocus, and are extremely easy to grow! We just popped them in the ground last fall, and pretty much forgot about them until *this* fall, when I noticed they had come up and - yes - even had actual saffron to harvest! I'm going to plant LOTS more! If you're interested in growing your own, I highly recommend it - they're inexpensive to purchase, grow beautifully in most places in the US, and are practically no maintenance.

And - just to show you how naughty Donna's little horses are - on these gorgeous fall days we simply leave the door of the shop open, to enjoy the sunlight and the breezes. Well, in their morning perambulations, the little horses just stopped on in to say hi! Delilah is on the left, and Baron on the right. Ollie, our mastiff-mix dog, is in the background - the babies are bigger than he is now!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

As most of you know, we offer various classes, mostly here on the farm. And we LOVE doing so! We keep thinking about a way to offer classes online to our many wonderful customers across the world...but have yet to come up with a great plan to do so. (There are only so many hours in the day unfortunately!) HOWEVER, we do get lots of emails from our (inter)national customers about classes, so I thought I'd post about a few options here.

Our friends Tina and Maryanne, of The Essential Herbal and Lancaster Soapworks, are offering a REALLY spectacular-sounding online soapmaking class! Check out the details here on Tina's blog - they are limiting the class to a certain number of students, so I highly recommend signing up very soon if you are interested.

We are teaching a class here on the farm about Homemade Natural Cleansers. The class draws heavily on an article I wrote for the Herb Quarterly in the Summer 2008 issue. (Did you guys know that I write a monthly column for that magazine, as well as feature articles??) Anyway - it does have some really great recipes in it, if you can find a copy at your local library I'd highly recommend it. Otherwise you can order a copy from their website. I also recommend 2 books on this subject:

The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Maier is my favorite - it's packed with great recipes that really work.

Clean House Clean Planet by Karen Logan is also great!

We also have a great recipe for homemade laundry soap on o
ur website,and we DO plan to add more natural home cleanser recipes to our website soon, so stay tuned.....

Last, but not least - we do offer several natural dyeing classes here
on the farm - we haven't yet offered one on rust-dyeing, but I *did* write a tutorial for Hobby Farm Home magazine on how to rust-dye fabrics. It's easy, fun, and a great way to turn rusty "junk" into art. Here are a few items that are dyed with rust (all of these can be found in my etsy store, by the way...)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A few housekeeping notes: The Soleil limited edition perfume is sold out!

We still have 2 spaces left in our November Soapmaking 101 class, and several slots in each in our Natural Dyeing and Natural Cleansers classes.

Monday, October 06, 2008

We are being blessed with a GORGEOUS fall. I guess we deserve it, after such a wet/hot/miserable spring and summer.

The harvest is in full swing here. The still is running every day, weather permitting. I've distilled the season's tender herbs - lemon verbena, eucalyptus, lemongrass - the more tropical herbs that grow here as annuals. Now I'll concentrate on the hardier herbs - peppermint, comfrey, mountain mint, etc. We had a crop failure of several herbs - lemon balm and chocolate mint. Which is bizarre, as normally they grow REALLY well here. go figure.

I'm also drying herbs, and making smudge sticks. The picture above shows sweetgrass, mountain mint, and white sage, just cut. I bundle some of each together and tie it with a rubber band, as shown below:

These are hung in our drying shed, until they're dry, but not TOO crispy/crunchy.
Then we remove the rubber band, tie the smudge together with natural-fiber (cotton or hemp) string, and they are done!

Here's another online tutorial about making smudge.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I've posted this recipe before, but it's so damn good I'm gonna post it again. I'm making it tonight, but, instead of sage, I used some leftover pesto (I had a pesto-making spree last night, and turned a laundry basket full of basil into delicious pesto in my freezer).


1 cup warm water
1 1/2 tsp. dry yeast
2 tsp. sugar
2 tbsp. good olive oil
2 tsp. salt
about 12 shallots, roughly chopped
3 tbsp. chopped fresh sage leaves (or 3 tsp. dried crushed sage leaves)
1/2 cup grated asiago cheese
1 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 cups flour (I used a mixture of white and wheat)

Combine water, yeast, and sugar into a large bowl, and let sit while you grate the cheese and chop the shallots, grate the cheese, and chop the sage.

Add oil, salt, shallots, sage, pepper, cheese and 1 cup flour to the yeast mixture, and stir until completely blended. Gradually add the rest of the flour until dough gathers into a ball. Knead for 4 or 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Coat dough with olive oil, and let rise until double. Punch down, then place on a greased cookie sheet or pizza pan - pat dough down into whatever shape you like, as long as it's about 1/2 inch thick. Let rise again, for about half an hour or 45 minutes.

Dimple the dough very deelpy with your fingers. Sprinkle the top of the bread with coarse sea salt. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Love to support your local farmers, AND eat great foods? Head to southern Iowa this Sunday, October 5th for a fantastic Farm Crawl! "Crawl" across six miles of countryside to visit six independently owned farms, and taste cheese, wine, fresh apples, see racing pigs, enjoy a corn maze, and SO much more!

Monday, September 29, 2008

As promised, here are some of the pictures from last week's Sample Sunday (Our big 10th birthday party).

Here is Mary DouBrava doing reiki - she kindly came out and offered free mini reiki sessions to anyone who wanted them!

Our friend Ryan and his uncle were selling their gorgeous hand-turned pens.

And our friend Nikki had her amazing handmade sterling silver jewelry for sale!

Here is Kristi, showing off some of her paper beads that she used making recycled junk mail - they are so gorgeous, you wouldn't believe they were just paper and glue!

Sally Kilkenny was selling her amazing handmade jams.

And Rachels wonderful stand of handmade jewelry!

More pictures to come......