A Special Ingredient You Need in Your Home & Organic Garden

A Special Ingredient You Need in Your Home & Organic Garden
Gardening organically can be slightly harder in certain instances, but it is well worth the pay-off. Growing your own nutrient-dense food that is as natural as possible is becoming increasingly important to many families.



What to do about pests though?



Or what about a natural way to get rid of fleas once your lovable pooch has already brought them home?

I got both covered. :)

Here's your special ingredient, something I ALWAYS have on hand, and 6 awesome uses for it:


Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is a very fine powder that contains tiny pre-historic aquatic organisms called diatoms which are made of silica. Some brands of DE (like in the link above) may be taken internally as well as used around the house. I personally only use a brand that is food grade, as I would not want children/pets getting into anything that was not safe to ingest already, you know what I mean? I don't have chemical insect repellant, cleaners, or sunscreen in the house (I've written about that here), let alone anything else that's harmful to my precious family.

6 Awesome Uses of DE:
1. Overall health benefits for hair, skin, nails, body, and brain. DE usually contains trace minerals, and we are often deficient in silica, which also has some amazing properties. Go do a little google search to see for yourself!

2. Great addition to facial scrubs, deodorant, carpet cleaner, and more. Just AVOID eyes (and nose on furry friends).

3. Kills fleas that your pooch brought in! The fine and abrasive nature of the powder causes insects with exoskeletons to dehydrate fatally. Dust pup 2x per day until pests are seen to be gone (be careful to avoid mouth & eyes, as the fine dust particles can irritate mucus membranes!).

4. Pest control in the garden. Re-apply once per day after noticing pests after dew or rain has dried for best use.

5. DE has detoxifying properties and can be used alongside these other gentle cleansing and detoxing tips.

6. In vegetable gardening, DE is sometimes used as a soil conditioner, because it can retain water and nutrients while draining fast and freely, allowing more air circulation to bring additional oxygen to the root system within the soil (which you want).



There you have it! Hope this is helpful. Go grab some here if you need it as much as I do!

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*Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. All things I love and use, of course!

Healthy Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Healthy Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread
This amazing dairy-free pumpkin bread is naturally sweetened with honey or maple syrup, and made with whole wheat flour or Einkorn flour. It’s so moist and fluffy! You can easily make this pumpkin bread vegan and/or gluten free. Recipe yields 1 loaf.

INGREDIENTS

⅓ cup melted coconut oil
½ cup honey or maple syrup
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin purée (a small pie pumpkin usually yields around 4 cups -- how to cook a pumpkin)
¼ cup milk of choice or water
1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin spice blend (or ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, and ¼ teaspoon allspice or cloves) OR 2drops cinnamon bark, 1 drop nutmeg, 1 drop ginger, and 1 drop clove essential oils (make sure you're using a pure, food-safe one -- ask me about what I use!)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¾ cups white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour or Einkorn flour
Optional: ½ cup mix-ins like chopped walnuts or pecans, chocolate chips, raisins, chopped dried fruit…
Pinch of ground cinnamon, for sprinkling on top


INSTRUCTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius) and grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
2. In a large bowl, beat the oil and honey together together with a whisk. Add the eggs and whisk until blended. (If your coconut oil solidifies on contact with cold ingredients, simply let the bowl rest in a warm place for a few minutes, like on top of your stove or in the preheating oven.)
3. Add the pumpkin purée, milk, pumpkin spice, baking soda, vanilla and salt, and whisk to blend. Lastly, switch to a big spoon and stir in the flour, just until combined. Some lumps are ok! If you’re adding any additional mix-ins, gently fold them in.
4. Pour the batter into your greased loaf pan and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon. If you’d like a pretty swirled effect, run the tip of a knife across the batter in a zig-zag pattern.
5. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (typically, if I haven’t added any mix-ins, my bread is done at 55 minutes; if I have added mix-ins, it needs closer to 60 minutes). Let the bread cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes, then carefully transfer the bread to a cooling rack to cool for 20 minutes before slicing.

SOOOO yummy!!
pumpkin bread made from fresh organic pie pumpkins

Normal

Normal

Normal.

What is normal?

A mindset. Normal for everyone is a bit different.

Does everyone else get up in the morning and immediately let the pup outside? No, but that's my normal.

Does everyone else spend 1-2 hours per day talking with people about wellness goals, in service to others, to help them fulfill their dreams of feeling well preventatively? No, but it's my normal.

Does everyone eat fresh cucumbers for lunch during the summer, grow 5 kinds of mint while gardening organically, and drink chocolate or orange mint tea in the winter? No, but it's my normal.

Did everyone go to a private K-12 school growing up? No, but that's my normal.

Does everyone sing 5-8 hrs per day for FUN and get to pass that joy and skill on to adults and kids alike? No, but it's my joyful normal.

Does everyone sleep 7-8 hours per night? For most, that's a sad no, but it's my normal now! It definitely didn't used to be.

Does everyone go to church every Sunday? No, but that's my normal.

Does everyone work for themselves as their own "boss"? No, but it's becoming my normal.

Does everyone eat Einkorn instead of modern grain? No, but it's becoming our normal.

Does everyone play strategy board games often the way Gabe & I do? No, but we enjoy it, and it's our normal.

Does everyone believe the same things about God or humanity? No, but we each have a normal.

Our normal is governed by our underlying beliefs and mindset. Our normal is fundamentally governed by what we believe about ourselves -- who we are, what we say to ourselves.

Do you tell yourself:
I am anxious.
I am tired.
I am broke.
I am hurt.
I am in pain.
I am stuck.
I am stressed.
I am broken.
I am a sinner.
I am hopeless.
I am incapable of _______ (something that hasn't happened yet that you are dreaming of).

I have to work this job.
I have to marry this person.
I have to live here.

OR, do you tell yourself:
I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
I am blessed to be a blessing.
I am at peace.
I am serving others.
I am connected in community.
I am made new.
I am growing.
I am a sharer of my talents and knowledge.
I am healed.
I am a saint who sometimes still sins.
I am hope-filled.
I am already _________ (fill in the blank with a goal that God sees as done, but to me is "not yet").

I can change my mind.
I can develop new preferences.
I can be authentically ME.

How can you move towards a new normal, if you're telling yourself the former things? How can I help you on the journey of saying the latter things to yourself?

Love you, dear friends. 🥰

Homemade Pesto

AfterHomemade Arugula/Basil Pesto

I just made it up with what I had using approximate ratios (like my dad always does), so I don't have an exact recipe. 😂
One to freeze and one to use this week.

But I've been asked multiple times! So here's the ingredients at least:

Organic baby arugula
Organic basil
Pine nuts (you can also use walnuts, but I like being fancy 😉)
Hard-neck Garlic (9ish cloves)
Extra Virgin Olive oil
Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
2 drops black pepper vitality essential oil
3 drops lime vitality essential oil

1. Put the leafy ingredients (arugula & basil) in a food processor with 3)4c ish of pine nuts. Pour in some olive oil. Puree or pulse to chop.

2. Add rest of ingredients and more oil until texture is fine.

3. Enjoy!

before





It is very important to know that not all essential oils are created equal...

You can’t just go out to a big box store (or anywhere online) and trust that you’re getting the good stuff. Lucky for you, I’ve got a source I trust. Contact me to learn more.

How to Maximize Space and Soil Nutrients in Your Organic Garden

Did you know that planting crops together (inter-mixed) is not only convenient, but beneficial for your crops?
Depending on which plants you choose, this can be a really good option if you...
1) Don't have a lot of space.
2) Want to maximize the growing season.
3) Need to remember where you planted your carrots! ;)

Carrots take a LONG time to germinate. A REALLY long time... 14-21 days, to be exact. That's easily long enough to forget you planted them there! Haha.

We plant a double row of hard-neck garlic with a row of carrots down the middle and radishes planted on top of them.

This, along with maximizing the high nutrient content of our vegetable-based compost, is super helpful for conserving space and utilizing the various nutrients these different vegetables need. The radishes are ready to pick in 4ish weeks, right when the carrots are just coming up! They make a great "row marker" for your carrots, protect the ground where the carrots are, and the garlic is ready to pick (from its planting in the fall) in mid-July, after the radishes are gone but before the carrots are ready to pick. If you pick your garlic at just the right time, it's easy to pull (no forking needed) and the root systems of the carrots are minimally impacted.

Win win win -- triple win! :)

Get our free plant-based DIY Bugs-B-Gone spray recipes for home and garden here

Want to receive updates to the blog? Here's Top 3 Tips for Gardening Organically. You can sign up to get blog updates straight to your inbox or phone here so you don't miss any! 
Fall crop of carrots/radishes planted recently without garlic.
Maximize Garden Space

Top 3 Tips for Gardening Organically

Gardening organically is totally doable and very beneficial for the earth, our bodies, and the creatures with whom we share our world. After 23+ years of experience (my family has gardened organically since I was 3 years old), here are my top 3 general tips, whether you're just getting started or a seasoned organic gardener. There's also a few pictures of our garden along the way and recipes for natural bugs-be-gone sprays for home & garden at the end -- enjoy!

1. Feed the Soil
What we feed the soil is what goes into our vegetables, so if we feed our crops well, we benefit from that in the food we eat. If you've eaten organically fresh-grown food, you'll know that it tastes different. This is in part due to differing varieties of the plant you grow, but in my opinion it has even more to do with the quality of the soil it's grown in.

Pro-Tip: If you can, go down to your local waste energy facility and get some compost made from the fall leaves & grass clippings. This provides wonderful nutrients for the soil, creates a weed barrier if left on top of the soil (any weed seeds are killed in the heating process), and is very cost-effective, not to mention also quite considerate of the earth and the way it naturally functions (recycling concept).
2nd crop of baby zucchini -- we pick 3x per week to get this size, otherwise we'd have a pick-up truck full of them! Pumpkin plants freshly tilled and about to run (they need to be hand-weeded still,
don't mind the weeds)! ;)
2. Plant Crops in a Way to Naturally Reduce Pests
Most people know about crop rotation as the most effective way to do this (moving crops to different locations different years). This also helps with soil quality, as different crops take different nutrients in and out of the soil, so they can help one another! But did you know that you can naturally deter certain animals or pests based on location you plant? For example, we planted parsnips along the edge of one of our fields where bunnies like to be because they find those less appetizing than other crops. Bunnies also won't go out into the center of our fields (otherwise, bye bye, says the hawk!), so planting these edge crops in the first few rows prevents them from bothering anything.

3. Use Plants to Protect Plants
Many people know about diatomaceous earth (uncalcinated) as a more natural effective way to get rid of insects with exoskeletons (by dehydration), but did you know that there are many plant-based ways to keep bugs (with exoskeletons or not) away from your plants? Generally this takes slightly more frequent application, but it tends to be more harmonious for the environment because it does not kill the bugs, just causes them to avoid the area.

Get our free plant-based DIY Bugs-B-Gone spray recipes for home and garden here

Want to receive updates to the blog? You can sign up to get them straight to your inbox or phone here so you don't miss any!  

First planting of cabbage, broccoli, and kale.
You can see the zucchini too in the far top LH corner, and the cucumbers next to them. :)

What is Black Garlic?

Black garlic can be found in restaurants everywhere, but the less well-known ingredient isn’t new. It has been used for its unique flavor, for medicinal purposes, and in Asian cuisines for centuries. Black garlic is the product of aging regular hard neck garlic bulbs over the course of weeks or months. It requires strictly regulated temperature and humidity to achieve its sticky blackish-brown consistency.

With a softer, molasses-like, balsamic-like flavor, it is a more delicate option than the raw version. Black garlic, considered a super food, also has added health benefits, including twice the amount of antioxidants than the regular raw bulb. The best part? It is versatile and can be swapped out for regular garlic in most recipes. It is a beautiful addition to any cheese plate, bruschetta, chicken dishes, or even as a pizza topper. I enjoy substituting it for regular garlic in my Garlic Lover's Pasta Salad recipe (pictures below). Many people like to add it to sauces or homemade vinaigrettes. Keep in mind it is milder in flavor but also unique as it is fermented, so I recommend you taste as you add.
   The process of making black garlic is less difficult than it is long. It can be aged for up to 60 days but will be ready to use after three weeks. Some people use a pressure cooker or rice cooker at home, while others use sealed canning jars and a dryer to get to the desired temperature and humidity levels.


Benefits: 
  • An abundance of antioxidant compounds such as polyphenols, flavonoids, tetrahydro-β-carboline derivatives, and organosulfur compounds, including S-allyl-cysteine and S-allyl-mercaptocysteine
  • The fermentation process enhances the bioactivity.
  • Growing evidence suggests that black garlic's properties potentially include: anticancer, anti-obesity, immuno-modulatory, hypolipidemic, antioxidant, hepatoprotective, and neuroprotective effects.
  • Black garlic can perhaps scavenge the free radicals in vitro and also activate the antioxidant enzymes in vivo.
  • Some recent reports have suggested black garlic as a prominent agent for treatment of inflammation and septicemia-related diseases.
Have you tried black garlic before? Check out our top 3 tips for organic gardening.




* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

The Importance of Natural Bug Repellent Around Kids and Pets (and Adults Too!)

The Importance of Natural Bug Repellent Around Kids and Pets (and Adults Too!)
You know those creepy crawlies that are found in the garden, around the home...? The ants and potato beetles, or worse... ticks?


We use a natural plant-based and non-toxic DIY Bugs-B-Gone spray in our home (read to the end for the recipe!) because we know how unpleasant some of those insect friends are.


We initially were concerned about finding natural alternatives because 1) we know ticks in particular but also mosquitoes are a problem, but also 2) we know the dangers of yard sprays and deet in particular. You can read more about the dangers of that here. My family is especially concerned about the environmental impact of sprays on bees, fish, and other wildlife aside from our children and pets.


My mom started using our DIY spray recipe on the family dog because he's always getting ticks. She started using it a few weeks ago. The week before, she'd found 3 on him! Since using the spray, she hasn't found one yet. Pretty good!


We also know that some people are not just irritated by mosquitoes, but actually allergic! That is especially important to be aware of. Finding safe alternatives for people with skin sensitivities is also really important. I (Andrea) have many sensitivities, skin and respiratory being two of them, and the ingredients in our spray and roller recipes pass the tests with flying colors.


Get our free DIY Bugs-B-Gone spray recipes for home and garden here!





DIY Insect Repellent Roller Recipe
10 drops citronella essential oil (this one was free in June for ER orders!)
10 drops lemongrass essential oil
5 drops rosemary essential oil

Add essential oils above to a 10 ml roller bottle (you can find some here) and fill with a carrier oil of choice (our favorite one is here).



*It is very important to know that not all essential oils are created equal...

You can’t just go out to a big box store (or anywhere online) and trust that you’re getting the good stuff. Lucky for you, I’ve got a source I trust. Contact me for more information.
And learn how to use essential oils safely here!





*Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. All things I love and use, of course!