The camellias are in glorious, full bloom and the days are mild. Come mid morning we are bare foot in the sandpit and peeling off extra woollen layers. There is tea, gentle sunshine and a wriggly babe on the mat; so far, King Winter is being kind in his ways. But ails will come regardless of the temperature. Sniffles and grazes are part of every childhood and especially those steeped in outdoor adventure.
Lately, like apothecaries of old we are choosing to heal our minor ailments in a more natural way. Our collection of tools fills a small, easy access basket - simple yet powerful remedies that are reached for time and again. Together we choose the appropriate therapy and spend some time restoring and re balancing our bodies and emotions. There's something calming in the ritual of it all.
In our basket we have:
gentle salves that soothe and heal. We love arnicafor bruising,
calendula for scrapes and grazes, eucalyptus balm rubbed onto chests and feet
for coughs and colds and lavender for headaches (massaging a small amount into
temples and the nape of the neck followed by a large glass of water seems to
keep most niggly headaches at bay). Although medicinally potent, perhaps their strongest healing powers
lie mostly in their need for touch.
lavender essential oil . One drop applied directly will ease the itch or
sting of an insect bite and a few drops diluted in a bowl of warm water
provides a wonderful antiseptic wound wash. The calming aroma is a lovely bonus
when little people are hurt.
our Magic Water. I fill a 50ml amber glass bottle with filtered water and then add about 20 drops of rose otto essential oil. A fine mist of its sweet vapours and listening to a whimsical tale of a healing fairy collecting rose petals always calms my hurt and distressed little ones.
a Chinese soup spoon for gua sha. When my babies show the very first signs
of a cold I like to use the traditional Chinese practise called gua sha to
stimulate the acupressure points associated with the lungs. Using very gentle pressure, it is a tactile way of helping little bodies to
fight germs and one they accept with delight.
rescue remedy – 4 drops on the tongue to help in stressful situations (this got me through those first few weeks of school runs with a new baby!). As
Bach flower essences contain small amounts of alcohol we also have the child’s version which uses vegetable glycerin as it’s preservative. I’ve found a few
drops in their water bottles goes a long way to ease distress.
a silky eye pillow filled with flax seed for rest and calm. Combined with
some lavender balm or a gentle spray of our magic water these soft pillows
soothe little bodies and overwrought tempers. Sometimes lying down for a few
moments with your eyes covered is all that’s needed to regroup and recharge.
bandaids, tweezers and small bandages.
Other helpful house hold items for healing;
When applied topically apple cider vinegar helps to restore skin pH. A good
splosh in the bath followed by a gentle massage of coconut oil is useful for
dry and itchy skin. And at this time of the year it is becoming an almost
Manuka honey - smeared over a splinter and covered with a band aid this
golden elixir is all sorts of magic. Overnight the splinter is drawn to
the surface of the skin and slides out effortlessly. Manuka honey also has
strong antibacterial qualities so it is great to heal over the wound. A
generous teaspoon also eases a raspy throat.
A large pot of aloe vera sits on our front door step and when skin is
irritated a gel filled leaf will be snapped off and smeared over bites or minor burns.
When Winter sniffles show themselves I am quick to take out my germ fighting room spray. I walk through the house throughout the day spritzing each
room; it’s potent aroma lifts the spirits and keeps airborne germs at bay.
Are you becoming more selective about the medicines you use? Do you have a favourite natural remedy you call on repeatedly?
run a deep bath, light some candles and try to revive my post pregnancy skin with a slow facial massage.
leaf through my garden books and plan a little flower garden for around the sandpit. The babies and I will wander the nursery and choose "bee friendly" plants and then take them home and plant them in the cool earth.
Polish the winter boots with a beeswax salve and wash the wool blankets with eucalyptus and lavender oil. It is time to add them to our beds and I must admit to loving the ceremony of it all.
see if the bottle green kale leaves are finally big enough to pick a few. They will be sauteed with garlic and cubes of pancetta and then devoured greedily with a fried egg (runny yolk of course).
Tucked behind a "World's Greatest Dad" mug and a half used scented candle, is a hint of powder blue. A delicate curve, a gold embossed rim - an ornate platter of days gone by. And so I quicken my step and snatch up this treasure for my own. All too often this scenario unfolds whilst op shopping and as a result our cupboards have been bursting with gilded, vintage treasures. I have dutifully applied a rule of "beautiful yet practical" to my purchases but how many platters does one family need?
Op shopping or thrifting is a wonderful way of making do; it is the epitome of recycling. One man's trash is another man's treasure but the hard part isn't wading through the abundance of discarded "trash" , it's saying no to the "treasures".
Clutter comes in all guises and nostalgic pretties have the same habit of accumulating as less appealing fripperies. My hunting for delicate treasures made op shopping less about purchasing essentials and all about the "collecting" of something. I'd be heard exclaiming, "Oh, I don't have that particular pattern of Pyrex bowl!", regardless of whether I needed any more bowls or not (for the record, I did not!)
So I started taking note of my kitchen comings and goings. I noticed that I reached for the same tea cup day after day. The stacks of plates and platters, no matter how beautiful, were rarely used bar a few. Balanced in hard to reach places, they made meal preparations difficult; the constant un -stacking of fragile pieces in order to reach the one I wanted was frustrating. These bargain beauties were not only cramping my cupboards but stifling my kitchen creativity. And so a purge ensued.
I took everything out and spread it across the kitchen benches and spent a pretty moment casting my eyes over pastel hues. Those items that hadn't seen the light of day were quickly boxed up and passed on for others to enjoy. The fence sitters needed a little more thought - what exactly would I use it for, and how often? Finally I had a small selection of pieces, the old favourites, that I happily reach for time and time again. Coupled with pieces made with soul these vintage treasures grace our table daily; they bring joy. And isn't that really the aim of simplifying?
silver crescents, her muslin blanket and earthen bowls for soup
Hanging from my earlobes are delicate silver crescents. Classic and beautiful, they bear the intricate markings of a maker. Embedded in the small details and embellishments, the curves and the shine are not only the aesthetics of a jeweller but also, her journey as an artist. The seed of creativity, the fashioning of raw materials into something practical and beautiful, the elation when a vision becomes reality and all the frustration when it just doesn't work. There are many hours hammered into these small hoops and when I wear them I feel a connection to their maker, to humanity.
Lately I've been popping little pieces of handmade into my Etsy cart and eagerly waiting their arrival. Slowly, slowly I am replacing the worn, the broken and the down right ugly with pieces filled with soul. Yes, pennies have to be saved to make these purchases but they speak of a shift away from the fast fashion, "use once and throw away" philosophy. I'm really scrutinising what we use on a daily basis and keeping our possessions to a minimum. Pieces of superior workmanship are chosen with care to imbue our home with individuality; we're defining our own particular style away from a mass produced, cookie cutter aesthetic. This conscious consumerism feels good.
When I eat soup in an earthen bowl made from locally sourced clay or when I wrap my baby in a crocheted blanket I feel the kinship. Makers creating with passion, honouring traditions and passing on their unique character within their work. In an often disjointed and robotic world this connection gives me a real sense of peace.