Josephine's Secret

One little known fact about me is that I am a closet history buff.  I don't particularly care for the "accepted" history that they teach in school about who won what war and took over.   The thing I love is the colorful part of history.  I love a good plot or mystery.  I love strong women that lived in times when they were expected to be soft.  Even better if there is a secret to uncover.  It doesn't really matter if that is a secret lover, scheme or a magic beauty potion....  but I LOVE when I come across a beauty potion in an old journal.  I always have to try it out. 

Queen of Hungary potion.

I was happy when I stumbled on to Empress Josephine's beauty secret.  This one is ridiculously easy and effective.
Josephine de Beauharnais was Nepoleon Bonaparte's first wife.  They married in France in 1796.  She was known for beautiful clear complexion.  It was rumored that she had a magic potion that she used on her skin every night to keep her appearance youthful and glowing.   According to her handmaid it was nothing more than a simple cleanser/moisturizer.

As we all know, keeping skin clean stops blemishes and keeping it hydrated stops many wrinkles.  So maybe it was magic after all....

2 T. heavy cream
1/4 C. Aloe vera  gel
1 T. raw honey (optional)

Cut an aloe lengthwise and scoop out the gel with a spoon.  Pulse a few times in the blender until smooth.  Add cream and honey and pulse til mixed.  This whips up in seconds!

Rub into skin in small circular motions for a few minutes.  For extra moisturizing, let it set for 5 to 10 minutes.  Rinse off with cool water and pat dry.  Note:  for all you No-poo girls  this is also a nice conditioning treatment for the hair.

If you have any extra leftover make sure to refrigerate between uses because of the cream.  This should last for about 2 weeks.


Spiced Ghee

Years ago my friend Laura showed me how to make spiced ghee and I have been forever grateful.  Every time I need to add some flavor to Anything its what I reach for.

Ghee is a rich, aromatic clarified butter.  It is a great substitute for butter for anyone who has problems digesting milk proteins.  (GF/CF people, I am talking to you)  An added bonus is that ghee is packed with the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K as well as aids in digestion.  Spiced ghee will also take on some of the healing properties of the herbs and spices used.

As I said, you can replace it for butter in any recipe but the uses are almost endless.  Use ghee to saute veggies and meat.  Make aromatic sauces with it.  Warm it up and use it to make a quick vinaigrette.  Rub it on chicken before you roast it.  It is amazing on sweet potatoes and squash.  Use it to season quinoa or rice.  It makes a lovely side dish with zucchini, kale and onions.  If you want a quick exotic homemade gift, try whipping equal parts raw honey and spiced ghee for the Best honey butter ever.  What ever you add it to is going to have a rich Indian undertone that is sure to please.

Doesn't that look great?   Spiced ghee takes a little time to make but don't worry it is really easy and well worth it.  Are you ready to give it a try?

2 C. unsalted butter  (use the best you can find)
1/2 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
fresh ginger, grated  -Laura says to use ginger the same size as your thumb. (I think thats about 2 T.)
1/2 t. turmeric
2 whole cardamom pods, crushed
1 cinnamon stick, 3 inches
1/8 t. freshly grated nutmeg.

Melt butter and bring to a boil in a heavy pan over medium heat. When the butter begins to foam, add the remaining ingredients and simmer on low for 1 hour without stirring.  The water in the butter will boil off and the milk solids will sink to the bottom of the pan.  Do not allow the solids to burn. (light brown is ok.) Carefully strain the clear liquid through a sieve lined with damp cheesecloth, leaving the solids in the bottom of the pan if you're able to.  Strain the liquid 2 more times.  Pour into a scalded glass jar and cover.  This delicious condiment is highly seasoned and completely shelf stable when covered.  It will keep at room temperature for 3 months and in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 months.  ... but it will never last that long! 
Enjoy this one.


Rose love beads!

Outside my house there is a giant cliff rose bush.  It is about 8 feet high and maybe 11 feet long.  Every year it blooms only once.  For about 3 weeks the sweet smell infuses everything.  The cool breeze brings it in the house in the night and it makes me so happy.

I have had quite a few  women tell me about "love beads"  made from rose petals.  Apparently, way back before they had air conditioners and deodorant they had to get creative about smell here in the desert.   Everyone says the exact same thing about the beads....   They are "ugly" little black beads that smell like roses when you wear them on the skin.  When I ask how they are made I am always told some story about stirring  them up by the light of the full moon and bathing in the liquid.....  everyone was a little sketchy on the exact details.

So, imagine my delight when I purchased a book on homemade oils and incense and there in the back was the recipe for Rose love beads.  Sure enough, it says the beads are "ugly and black" so I am thinking it is the same recipe I have been hearing rumors about.

1 part Rose geranium leaves
3 parts  Rose petals
distilled water or rose water if you want more smell.

Remove any white stem ends from the petals.  It says to infuse the petals with your intention to be love and attract love into your life.  (got it?)  Cover the petals with water or rose water in a Non-metallic pan.  I used my canning pot and it worked out great.  Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.  **Ensure that the mixture doesn't actually boil.  Turn off the heat and let soak till the next day.

This is what it looks like after the first simmer.  I kept mine outside just so it didn't get in the way during my actual cooking of food. 

Repeat simmering for 30 minutes each day for 3 more days.  Add water as needed.   At first it doesn't smell that much but every day it gets stronger and stronger until it almost knocks you over when you open the lid.

On the last day squeeze out all the water until you have a fragrant mess.  The mixture should be dry enough to hold its shape.  Strain the water and save for a nice rosy hydrosol for refreshing hair and skin.  (or moonlight bathing if you wish)  Form into small round beads with your hands.  Push a wire or needle through each one while it is still wet to form holes for stringing.  Let dry for a week or so, moving them around to ensure even drying.

I just strung mine right on  a string to begin with.  They shrunk in size by at least half.  When I do this again next year I am going to run the mix through the blender after I squeeze the water out.  I hope that will make a "prettier" bead.  I also learned that the mixture is very astringent.  The skin on my fingers dried out and peeled off.  Gloves are a good idea!

String on a red ribbon for attracting passion and a pink ribbon for lasting love.  Wear these for love, add to sachets,place in your purses, drawers and so on.  When worn on the body they release the most delicious scent.

....at least I like it.  When I made my sister smell the concoction she said "Oh!!! It smells like grandma's closet!".   So, if you're not into rose, it may make a nice gift for grandma.


Primal Taco

This isn't a new idea by any means....  but I just tried it for the first time tonight.  The verdict is in.  The family loves it and we will be doing this again very soon.

If you used to use corn tortillas you are really going to like this.  The romaine lettuce gives you that satisfying crunch you want in a taco.   You know how to make a taco... I don't have to walk you through it.  Just take the regular tortillas and toss them out the window.  Next take a fresh head of romaine lettuce and wash and separate the leaves.  Fill them up with anything your heart desires.   I used ground beef, cheese, avocado, salsa and onions.

There you go!  Quick, easy and grain free.



Today is my anniversary!  It is hard to believe that the three musketeers have been a family for 11 years.  It has been a crazy ride.  We have known exquisite joy and deep sorrow.  We have grown as individuals and as a family and somehow through it all we have grown closer together. 

Jim, my partner in everything, I love you so much more now than I did the day we said "I do".  You are the most intelligent man I know.  I love your quick wit and playful side.  You have shown me that a giant of a man can also be the most compassionate.  I love how you bring me back down to earth when I spin out to high.  I love that you are the best father to our girl.  You push her to do better and support her where she is at.   I love how you and I can still stay up all night talking about anything and that you take the time to explain things to me.  You are the solid foundation that our life is built on.  My life is so much better with you in it.  xoxo

Kalista my precious girl,  You are my heart.  You live up to your name every day.  Truly, you are "the most beautiful light" and you sine on everyone you come in contact with.  Your life has been so difficult and for that I am sorry.  We have spent a million nights with no sleep, cried a million tears, learned 100s of therapies, fought (and won) the evilest of women.....  and it is all worth it because every day you kick autism's butt.  Every new step you take is a victory and a reason to celebrate.  Thank you for inspiring me every day.  You have taught me things about compassion, kindness, spirituality, sacrifice.  Things I never could have learned with out you.  You bring out the best in me.  I love you.

I hope the next 11 years are full of laughter and adventure.  ((and maybe a few nights of sleep?))


Pretty Kale and Mushrooms

If you have looked at my recipes you have probably noticed there are a few things that are really important to me about food.  First I think food should be healthy, simple and easy or I (and most other people) won't make it.  Also food should be an experience of delight for the senses.  It should taste good for sure.  Think for a moment about how your food smells and how it makes your house smell.   mmmm....  I love the sound of chopping veggies and how they sizzle when I toss them in coconut oil.  Most importantly it has to be pretty.  If I am going to take the time to pick out the best ingredients it has to be vibrant and reflect how healthy it is going to be.

I have really started to love Kale for breakfast because it feeds all my senses.  There is just something wonderful about how easy and pretty it is.  You can add (or subtract) anything you want to this dish.


1 bundle Kale, washed and stemmed
2 pieces bacon, chopped  (or for a no meat version just use coconut oil)
1 small onion, sliced
2 cups mushrooms
salt and pepper to taste or use braggs liquid aminos  if you like that better

First chop the bacon to the size you want and cook in a skillet.  While that is cooking chop the onion and then place in the skillet with the bacon and stir till the onion starts to look translucent.  Add the mushrooms and cook for few minutes.  Add a splash of vinegar and stir till the mushrooms have absorbed it and are tender.  Add the kale and keep it moving in the skillet or it will burn.   Very quickly it will cook down and become vibrant green.  Place in a bowl and top with salt and pepper or braggs.  Enjoy!

It is just that quick and easy!

 Sooo pretty!


Squash bugs!

This year I planted a garden and it has been so fun and rewarding to be able to gather salad greens and herbs any time I want. 

One problem is squash bugs.  Everyone tells me that they are just a fact of life when gardening here in the desert.  Squash bugs are ugly little things that lay brownish/redish eggs on the under side of the leaves and reproduce at an alarming rate.  They suck the life out of your squash plants and eventually kill them.

See what I mean?  Ugly......

I have tried all kinds of natural remedies like planting garlic by the squash, marigolds, basil and washing the plants down with different concoctions.

Finally I found something that actually works!  A simple shop vac.  Thats right people just vacuum up the little suckers.    Use the wand attachment to suck them up, cut off any dying leaves and burn the leaves and the contents of the shop vac.  Use a solution of dawn dish soap and green tea (cooled) to wash off the eggs.  You may have to do this two or three times to get them all. 

Thanks for the great tip Kerry!


new whip!!

I'm going to be studying self defense using the short whip and a staff.  I am SUPER excited and ready to learn.   So, I needed a short whip for the course. 

This is my new 4.5 foot bullwhip built by The whip man!   It is not as pretty as my first one but it is fast becoming my favorite!

Apricot Preserves (sugar free)

We were really lucky this year to have all of our apricot trees produce fruit.  I picked and picked and gave away boxes and boxes this year.  I love that feeling when the abundance is just overflowing and a little overwhelming.  I dried apricots, froze them and Bottled them because those are all really easy to do.  Jim ask if I could make some apricot preserves so I thought I would give it a try.  I think it turned out really good.

First you have to take a look at the size of these things!  The tomato is just a medium one....but still!  I believe they are as big as the peaches were last year!

First wash the apricots.  I just soak them in the sink in cold water with a splash of apple-cider vinegar and then rinse really well.

Apricots, pitted and sliced
1 can crushed pineapple, with juice
1/4 C. fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 -2 boxes of Pectin (no sugar kind) 
1 T. butter

Mix everything in a big stock pot and bring to a full boil.  This should take 10 to 15 minutes.  Take off heat and skim off the foam.  (If you want to use sugar this is the time to add it)  Put back on the heat and bring to a full boil for 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and skim foam again. The butter is in there to cut down the amount of foam and it really works.  (If you don't skim it off it will turn into nasty solidified bubbles on the to of your jam.  Yuck!

Transfer preserves to clean canning jars.  Place the lids and rings on the jar and wait for the little popping sounds as they seal.

Note: 1. Make sure that you wipe the rim of the bottle clean before you put the lid on so it will seal. 2. the jars are super hot so make sure they are on a towel or a surface that is heat resistant.  (and far enough away from the edge that sticky little kiddo fingers can't reach up and get burned)

This is so easy!  The hardest part is cleaning and cutting the fruit.   Just look how beautiful it is when you are done.


Natural PMS Relief

Over the years I have spoken with many many wise women in the salon.  The subject of female problems always comes up sooner or later.  PMS, child birth and menopause are the glue that binds us all together.  I am always so fascinated by the women that go through this naturally and gracefully.  Over the years I have picked up quite a few tips and treatments.  I thought that today I would share some of the PMS cures.  It is interesting to me that quite a few of them have the same ingredients even though I picked them up from different women in different cities. 

Cramp Tea
1 T. crampbark
1 T. dried red raspberry leaves
1 T. stinging nettle leaves
1 t. dried comfrey leaves
1 t. oat straw
3 C. boiling water

Place herbs in a bowl and pour the boiling water over the top.  Let the mixture steep for 15 minutes.  strain the herbs out.  Drink on cup 2-3 times a day.

Massage oil for cramps
4oz olive oil
10 drops cypress essential oil
8 drops geranium essential oil
12 drops lemon essential oil
10 drops chamomile essential oil

Combine all oils in a sealed dark bottle.  The oil will keep of up to 16 months.  Massage oil into abdomen 3 times a day or as needed.  *as with all essential oils, do not used on irritated skin and stop use if your skin reacts to the oil.

Cramp oil #2
2 T. olive oil
4 drops lavender oil
3 drops geranium oil
2 drops chamomile oil
3 drops marjoram oil
1 drop ginger oil
1 drop patchouli oil

Combine and store in a dark glass bottle.  Massage on abdomen and hips as needed.  This one has a comforting heat that seems to melt the pain away.

Cramp oil #3
10 drops peppermint oil
5 drops clary sage oil
5 drops cypress oil
5 drops lavender oil

Combine oils and store in a dark glass bottle.  This oil is better for spasms and can be applied any ware you need to.  I personally like to use it as a soak in the bath tub.  a few drops is all you need.

Iron Womyn tincture
2 parts stinging nettle tincture
2 parts dandelion root tincture
2 parts dandelion leaf tincture
1 part yellow dock root tincture
1 part red raspberry leaf tincture

Combine all tinctures and store in a glass dropper bottle in a cool dry place.  It will keep up to 2 years.  Start 2 or 3 days before period is expected.  Drink 30 drops in a glass of water 2 to 3 times a day or as needed.  This tincture helps to replenish iron lost from heavy bleeding.

Periwinkle blend
1 C. water
1 T. dried american cranesbill root
1 T. beth root
1 T. periwinkle leaves

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let steep for 30 minutes.  strain and discard the solids.  Drink one cup a day during period.  *note: do not combine this one with the other teas.  Will keep for 48 hours

for Profuse menstration
3 cups water
2 t. yellow dock root
2 t. dried red raspberry leaves
2 t. dried stinging nettle leaves.

Bring water to a boil and add yellow dock root. simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and add the red raspberry leaf and nettle.  Steep for 20 minutes and strain.  Drink 1 cup 1 to 3 times a day as needed

Sever Cramp Extract
1 part cramp bark extract
1 part motherwort extract
1 part wild yam extract

Combine extracts in a glass dropper bottle.  Take 30 drops every 10 minutes till cramping subsides.  Keeps for 3 years.

I recommend labeling and putting the date on all potions just to be safe.  Also it is up to you to make sure you aren't reactive to any of the ingredients used.  A patch test on the inside of the arm works well.

I love all the wild wise women in my life but special thanks to Miss Julie, Miss Melva and Miss Ramona for these recipes.  I love you for sharing your wisdom with me when I needed it most!


Primal stuffed Peppers

I used to make stuffed peppers all the time when I was vegan.  I haven't had them in over two years now mostly because I cut out grains and didn't know what to stuff them with.

I came up with a good solution. Use zucchini instead!

bell peppers, washed and seeded
ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
spaghetti sauce
zucchini, shredded

Cut and see the peppers and set aside.

Cook the ground beef and drain off the extra fat.  Add the onion and saute for a minute then add the spaghetti sauce.   You want this to be thick so go easy on the sauce.  Optionally, add some cheese to the mix and maybe some chilli powder.  After it is cooked down a bit add the shredded zucchini and cook for a minute or two. 

Stuff the peppers with your meat mixture and place in an oven pan.  I like how it looks to put the top back on.  Bake at 350 till the pepper is as done as you like it.  Mine took 45 minutes.  Take out of the oven and sprinkle with cheese when there is about 5 minutes lift. cook the remaining time.


Dilly Beans

This is a recipe that Aunt Billie gave me.  I wasn't sure how it would go over but My family really loves it.

about 4 quarts Green beans
1-2 hot red peppers, per jar
1/2 t. whole mustard seed, per jar
1/2 t. dill seed, per jar
1-2 cloves Garlic, per jar
5 C. vinegar
5 C. water
1/4 C salt, non iodized

Wash and drain beans.  Cut into lengths that will fit into the jar.  Add peppers,mustard, dill and garlic.

Combine vinegar, water and salt.  Bring it to a boil and pour liquid over beans and spices.  Fill to 1/2 inch of the top of the jar.  Seal jars and process in boiling water for 5 minutes if you are at sea level up to 1,000 feet. Add one more minute for every extra 1,000 feet above sea level.

This makes about 7 pints depending on how you pack the bottles.


Citrus Mint Body Scrub

Summer is in full swing and its time to pamper that skin!  This citrus mint scrub is my absolute favorite for smoothing the rough bits off of my feet to get them sandal ready.  If you already have a tan it is sure to make you glow.

1/2 C. Sea salt
1/2 C. olive oil
1 or 2 lemon slices
1 or 2 orange slices
small bundle fresh mint

All you do is put everything in a blender and give it a spin!  The citrus peel is great in the scrub so don't cut it off.  (I use the end pieces of the orange and lemon so more peel is used.) 

There is just something about the combination of mint and citrus that leaves me feeling refreshed and pampered.... and it is pretty too.

I like to keep this in a squeeze bottle for quick use in the shower or for an easy access hand scrub.  Apply to skin and use hands or a washcloth to scrub in circular motions.  Rinse off and pat dry.  Do not wash it off because you want the oil to stay on your skin. 

Enjoy this one!  You deserve a summer glow.


Red Currant Jelly

I'm so lucky!  My amazing Aunt Sherry gifted me a big bucket of red currants and her recipe for jelly!  I had to tweak it a tiny bit to get the sugar out but I think it turned out great. 

Just look at these things.... they are so beautiful.

Currants are kind of a pain to stem and clean.  At least they don't stain your hands.


3 pounds of red currants, cleaned and stemmed
3 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
a piece of ginger root, bruised
3 cups water  (I substituted apple juice)
1 cup white wine vinegar (I used 1/2 cup rose vinegar and 1/2 half cup orange juice)
6 cups sugar  (I took this out completely and added some sure jell pectin instead)
 (butter If using pectin)

 Put the currants and spices into a saucepan with the apple juice and simmer until the currants are soft.  give them a spin in your blender to separate the seeds.  Strain the mixture through a jelly bag.  It will take an hour or two.   

Add the vinegar to the juice and bring to a boil.  (If you are using sugar add it now and stir until it is dissolved)  Add the pectin and about 1 T unsalted butter.  Bring to a rapid boil until the setting point is reached- about 20 minutes. 

Bottle in jars immediately, and seal.   This is a little work but it is SO worth it!  Not only is the color just spectacular, it made my house smell great for days.

Thanks Aunt Sherry!


Cucumber Avocado Moisture mask

The sun is out and summer is here!  Now is the time to moisturize your skin if there is any hope of saving it from the desert sun.

I love this mask not only for my face but also for my hands and feet.  If your up for a little adventure, give it a try!


1/2 C. cucumber
1/2 C. avocado
1 egg yolk
3 T. honey
1 T. cream or yogurt
3 drops lemon oil  (or your favorite essential oil)

Mix everything in the blender till it is nice and smooth.  Use a fan brush to apply evenly over the skin.  Set back and relax for 30 minutes or till it dries.  When you are done rinse with cool water and pat dry.   Your skin should be silky smooth and revitalized.

Note: I have found this works best if the skin is freshly exfoliated.

Yes, it is totally normal for it to turn a rather ugly color of brown before you are done... just go with it and have fun!