A few years ago I fell in love with some Calendula salve that I picked up at our local farmer’s market. Once it ran out, I set out to make my own. But as I was researching the benefits of calendula, I came across some other herbs and flowers that I wanted the benefits of as well. I chose a combination of 6 that heal nearly every skin ailment I could ever think of, and made a balm that is nothing short of a miracle. Which is why I started calling it my Miracle Healing Balm.

Here are the botanicals that I include, and the impressive benefits of each:

Chamomile | Known for its calming properties, chamomile soothes the skin, reduces redness and irritation, and heals skin wounds, eczema, rosacea, bruises, burns, hemorrhoids and even mastitis.

Plantain Leaf | Naturally antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, plantain leaf helps to relieve pain, burning and itching of insect and snake bites, rashes and cuts.

Rose Hip | Extremely high in vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids, rose hip oil reduces redness and irritation, and helps repair damaged skin, burns, scars, and skin ulcers.

Lavender | The antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and antiseptic properties of lavender make it effective in healing skin wounds, burns, insect bites and stings, sunburns, acne and other skin abrasions. Lavender also helps prevent infections and promotes new cell growth.

Calendula | Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antiviral, astringent and immunostimulant, Calendula has been used for centuries to heal wounds and treat skin irritations such as cuts, scrapes, burns, bee stings, diaper rash, acne, athlete’s foot, and chapped or chafed skin.

Comfrey Leaf | The anti-inflammatory properties of comfrey leaf help speed the healing of skin wounds, burns and scalds.

I love this combination, and have found it very effective, but you can use any botanicals that you like.

Start by making an oil infusion.

Add all of your herbs and flowers to a sterilized glass jar with an airtight lid. Cover with the oil of your choice. I like to use cold pressed extra virgin olive oil. It is easy to find, rich in vitamins A and E, and super moisturizing.

Set the jar on a sunny windowsill and leave it for 4-6 weeks, shaking daily. You can speed this step up a bit by placing the jar in a slowcooker filled with water on the lowest setting for 24-48 hours.

Using a small mesh sieve and a funnel, carefully pour the oil into a clean glass jar. Squeeze the herbs and flowers carefully to get all of the oil out of them before discarding.

The miracle healing oil is finished.

Now to turn it into a balm…

Start with organic beeswax. You can usually find this at your farmer’s market, at the booth selling honey. It isn’t always advertised that they sell the beeswax, so make sure to ask.

You want a ratio of about 1 part beeswax to 4 parts oil.

To make the balm:

  1. Simmer a small amount of water in a saucepan. Put the beeswax into a small jar.
  2. Pour the infused oil into the jar with the beeswax. Place the jar into the pot of water, making sure that the water level is lower than the lip of the jar. Turn the heat down so that the water is not yet simmering, but still very warm.
  3. Stir with a toothpick until all of the wax has melted.
  4. Remove the jar from the pot of water and let cool until hardened. If your balm is too solid, reheat, and add more oil. If it is too soft, reheat and add more beeswax.

Baby & Belly Balm

For a balm safe for pregnant bellies and fresh baby skin, I make an oil infused with only calendula. This is wonderful for preventing stretch marks and soothing itchy, stretched skin. For babies, this can be used everywhere – on diaper rash, dry skin, cradle cap, eczema, little scratches, etc.

In our house, we call the calendula balm “magic cream” because it works for just about anything. The girls use it anytime they get a booboo, and it instantly makes them feel better. We also use it on scratches, scrapes, chapped lips, wind-burned cheeks, rashes, insect bites, and even inside dry nostrils to prevent bloody noses.

Avery

For the most part, my kids are good eaters. But there are those days. The days when their desired meal consists of plain pasta, a piece of baguette, and some white rice on the side.

It is those days that I have to try to appeal to their love of all things rainbows.

A few fruits and vegetables on the edge of their plate will easily be pushed to the side in order to eat more of their beloved white carbs. But arranging the fruits and veggies like a rainbow on a plate? Game changer.

It seems so simple, but trust me, it works!

Just take whatever fruits and vegetables you have on hand (the more colorful the better) and arrange them artfully on a nice plate or platter. Bye bye plain white pasta!

Avery

 

A few weeks before leaving San Francisco, we celebrated our sweet oldest’s 5th birthday. The inspiration for the party came from some of her beloved San Francisco books, and was a great way to say farewell to our favorite city. In addition to setting the mood for the party, the books also doubled as both party decorations and entertainment during the party.
I’ve said it before, but if you haven’t read any of Miroslav Sasek’s books, you are seriously missing out. I am of course partial to This is San Francisco, but we have almost all of the titles in our collection. The beautiful vintage illustrations in this book set the color scheme for the party.

San Francisco 123 was perfect for the littlest SF loving tots at the party, and matched both the colors and the Golden Gate bridge theme.

For an simple no-sew bunting, we used a round punch to cut circles out of paint chips in the colors of the party, then glued a string between two circles (with the right sides of the circles facing out). Quick and easy.

This San Francisco 3-D puzzle was a sweet gift and made a nice decoration for the party.



We kept it simple (and economical) by using plain white plates, napkins, notecards and paper bags. Then we used a an alphabet stamp and a Golden Gate Bridge stamp to decorate. Coral and Seaglass ink pads coordinated perfectly with the color scheme.






A few other notes about the party, and how we kept things simple and inexpensive:

  • Everything had to be quick and easy, since the party was happening so close to our move.
  • Food consisted of a fruit and veggie platter plus cheese and crackers. Good for both kids and adults, and minimal prep time.
  • Dessert was homemade (from a box) cupcakes.
  • Party favors were the stamped bags filled with piñata goodies. Because after living in Honduras, no birthday party is complete without a piñata!
  • The party was held at Julius Kahn Park, one of our favorite neighborhood spots, which also happens to have an amazing view of the Golden Gate bridge. Parks are my favorite venue for birthday parties (especially in the city). There is free entertainment for the kids, beautiful and natural scenery, and you don’t need to worry about limiting the number of people. Plus, a permit for a party is very reasonable and cleanup is a breeze.

All Natural Easter Eggs straight from the farmerI’ve claimed to have made natural Easter eggs before. Every year, we try out different vegetables and herbs to naturally dye eggs. We’ve used red cabbage to make blue ombre eggs. And last year, we went super simple and doodled on brown eggs with white pen.

But this is even easier. And more natural.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Go to your local farmer’s market.
  2. Pick out the most gorgeous eggs you can find, preferably in soft hues of sea-foam green, blush beige, caramel brown, misty aqua blue, or any other naturally stunning color.
  3. Marvel at their natural beauty.

Kind of simple. But sometimes simple is best!

All Natural Easter Eggs straight from the farmerAll Natural Easter Eggs straight from the farmerAll Natural Easter Eggs straight from the farmer

More Easter egg decorating ideas:

Natural Brown Easter Eggs

A few days ago we decided we were ready to dye some

Naturally Dyed Eggs Go Ombre

Remember these colorful beauties from last year? We

dye Easter eggs naturally

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

Who knew that Easter egg dye kits are only an American

The Best Doctor

Before putting together our DIY Doctor Kit, I spent a bit of time looking to see what was available. And I was completely impressed by the beautiful, well made, eco friendly doctor’s kits out there!  I have rounded a few of the very best options, as well as some books, apps, puzzles and games that will excite any aspiring doctor.

Be sure to see our favorites in each category down at the bottom!

 

DOCTOR’S KITS

row 1:   HABA Doctor’s Suitcase   |   Le Grande Famille Doctor’s Medical Kit   |    Strawberry Doctor Trunk

row 2:   Doc HABA   |   Is There A Doctor in the House   |   Wooden Pretend Play Doctor’s Kit

row 3:   My First Doctor Kit   |   Soopsori Doctor Play Set   |   Honeybake Doctor’s Set

 

APPS

The Human Body

Toca Doctor

This is my Body

My Incredible Body

 

BOOKS

Inside Your Outside: All About the Human Body

The Magic School Bus Inside The Human Body

First Human Body Encyclopedia

See Inside Your Body

The Human Body: Lift the Flap and Learn

 

PUZZLES & GAMES

Skeleton Floor Puzzle

Magnetic Human Body Play Set

Your Body 5-Layer Wooden Puzzle

Body Magnets and Anatomy Cards

Operation Game

Squishy Human Body

 

Our Favorites:

DOCTOR KIT | Is There A Doctor in the House: Although I am of course partial to our DIY Doctor Kit, it has a lot of little pieces and isn’t suitable for the littlest doctors. This wooden version from Land of Nod is super cute, durable, and comes in a fun carrying case. My 18 month old has this and she loves it!

APP | The Human Body App: This is a beautiful app that allows kids (and adults) to discover how each of the body’s systems works. It also comes with a PDF guide that explains how to use the app and gives many other activity suggestions. I appreciate that this app allows open-ended exploration as opposed to simply playing a game or following instructions.

BOOK | The Magic School Bus Inside The Human Body: We love all of the Magic School Bus books around here, and this one is no different. Ms. Frizzle takes the class through the human body and kids learn tons of fun facts along the way.

PUZZLE | Body Magnets and Anatomy Cards: This puzzle not only teaches kids the different parts of the muscular system, skeleton, organs or skin, it does it in 9 different languages. Perfect for bilingual kids, and those of us who move around the world every few years. You never know when you might need to know how to say gallbladder in German!

GAME | Operation: The original game we all played and loved when we were kids. You really can’t improve on a classic! (Just make sure it is the original, and not the updated version, which is such a disappointment)