As spring moves on and I become more and more active outside and in the garden (“Oh, alright then, just one more tomato plant…” says the lady who swore she wasn’t going to bother with tomatoes this year), I find that I just can’t stop. Cultivating and working with plants is so yummy that I want to do more and more. I begin to scheme as I walk around, wishing I didn’t have to bother with things like cleaning and grocery shopping and errands and instead could spend all my hours in an apothecary with my daughter while we concocted magic all day long. In consensual reality however, sometimes I actually only have a few minutes. Sound familiar? I bet…and so I offer…
Two easy and slightly miraculous things you can make. Today. Probably right now if you life in a neighborhood with gardens or happen to have any on hand…
Next to Lavender, Calendula is one of my favorite cure-alls. Rash? Calenduala. Mosquito bite? Calendula. Scratch, scrape, burn or cut? Calendula. Lip balm? Calendula. Toddler wants to play with a salve bottle? Calendula. Anti-bacterial, anti-viral, astringent and healing, it’s liquid gold. Buying it in the store is ridiculous…it is so easy to make your own.
1. Go outside, taking with you a little clean jar. Find Calendula (Pot Marigold) flowers and pluck off the petals (make sure they are dry or else they will be problematic). Put them in the jar, filling it at least 1/4 full. The more you pick, the more salve you will be able to make. However, a little salve lasts a long time, so you can start small. And as always, leave more than you take for the bees.
2. Go home. Take your olive oil (or almond if you want to get fancy) and slowly pour over the petals in the jar, until they are just submerged. Cover the jar with cheesecloth (or folded toilet paper if you’re a pro like me) and fasten with a rubber band. Place in a window for two weeks (a little sun is ok, but my guess is prolonged sun would break down compounds in the oil and calendula). This is the end of the part that you can do right now.
3. At the end of the two weeks, you should have a beautiful gold oil. Strain out the petals and put the oil in a double boiler, warming the oil very, very gently. To every cup of oil, add 1/4 cup of grated pure beeswax. I only used about 1/4 cup of oil so I will use like 1/16 of a cup of beeswax. Truth be told, I eyeball it, adding in a little at a time and testing it by letting a drop cool on a plate. When it gets to the right salvey consistency, I’m done! And now you are too.
4. Put the salve in a little container or bowl with wrap on top. Ta da!
Awesome easy thing number two.
Infused Olive Oil for Cooking
My community garden has a community herb plot. Right now, two varieties of Oregano are going gangbusters. Have you ever nibbled on fresh Oregano? It’s surprisingly spicey! All kitchen herbs can be infused into olive oil to use for cooking, making salad dressings, drizzling on pizza etc.
1. Find a robust kitchen herb plant (Rosemary, Basil, Oregano, Thyme, Chives, Marjoram, Tarragon etc…Rosemary is prolific in the city, it’s like there’s a plant on every block). Pluck 5-8 stems. Check for critters and shake them back onto the plant if necessary.
2. Go home. If you want to wash your herbs, you will then have to wait for them to dry. If you’re a dirty hippy like me, and don’t care, proceed to step three.
3. Put the sprigs in a jar. Fill to the top with olive oil. Cap.
4. Let herbs steep for at least two weeks (the window isn’t necessary, I put mine in the pantry). You can then take the herbs out, or leave them to infuse longer.
5. Use your oil. Yum!
Each of these projects took under 15 minutes.
What quick and easy little bits of magic are you doing these days?