Green Thumbs Up!

Main Ingredient: Beeswax

Beeswax is a main ingredient in many products, but first, what exactly is it? 
Beeswax is an all natural wax that honey bees produce. Typically, you’ll find it comes yellow, white, or bleached. The yellow comes directly from the honeycomb and the other two are derived from the yellow. 

Beeswax is used to make many topical things such as balms, salves. I have found that many balms and salves I have used for my child were made using beeswax as I usually gravitate towards using more all natural products when it comes to her due to her being super sensitive to most products. One of my favorite salves I have and use a lot of is actually a salve made by a family member. Our family uses it on most anything from diaper rashes to blisters; it is even a great chapstick alternative! Speaking of, many lip balms also have beeswax in them as it is said to be great for lip care!

Salve made by family member.

I’m all about tattoos and great aftercare for them. However, I will only go to one tattoo shop for my work. Now, this shop I have been going to for piercings and tattoos since I was fourteen years old, so for ten years I have been a very loyal customer to the shop owner; if anyone asks me where I recommend to go, I will forever send them down to this shop. A couple of years ago, the shop owner and one of his friends, another whom is very avid in supporting this shop and is always hanging around there, got together to come up with an all natural and better alternative for tattoo care. The line they came up with is some of the best product I have ever used. When you get a tattoo done, they give you a couple of packets for free to use and depending on the size of the tattoo, it lasts until your tattoo is fully healed. Days the shop does their specials, an example being Friday the 13th, the creator is at the shop handing out free samples of it and free lip balms they make with almost the same formula. I have also tried their lip balm which is also amazing. I am so happy they had gotten together to come up with this aftercare line because it is all natural, plus I love supporting small businesses around here! 

Tattoo creme picture from their website.

Everyone loves candles, right? Well, beeswax candles are actually a better alternative than our regular candles as they have a one hundred percent clean non-toxic burn and they produce negative ions when they are burnt. They also produce less soot and last longer. Beeswax candles are a type of candle that affects the air we breathe the less as well, so even better for you! However, you want a candle that is one hundred percent and that is not blended with paraffin. I know what you’re thinking, but what about scents. Well, beeswax candles can be scented! Also, an unscented beeswax candle can emit a slight honey scent. 
I feel a beeswax candle scented with lavender would be an amazing help unwinding after a long stressful day at work! 

These are only some uses and products made from beeswax. There is so many more out there! 


Green Thumbs Up!

Wild For Asparagus!

Have you ever gone foraging in your area? As a child, I remember going foraging for so many things! We’ve found wild carrots, berries, asparagus, leeks, and mushrooms, mainly morels, to name a few. Where I grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, exploring the land was about the only thing there was to do. Once, when I was around six years old, I found a couple wild strawberries growing right in my front yard and I remember being so amazed and that I thought it was the coolest thing ever. If you have never gone foraging, I highly recommend it. There are apps you can download onto your phone to help you identify wild plants you find and you may be surprised on what you can find growing wild in your area! 

Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables and I love that it is something that we can find growing wild here. It’s so easy to spot the tips growing and they grow everywhere around here and where my mom lives. It’s getting to be the end of their season, however we found a few growing. 

Asparagus is part of the asparagaceae family and the scientific name given to it is asparagus officinalis. It is a perennial plant, meaning it lives for more than two years. Asparagus has many health benefits and supply us with necessary nutrients such as: 

  • Folic acid which necessary for blood cell formation and growth and aides in liver disease prevention
  • Potassium 
  • Fiber
  • Rutin which is a compound that strengthens capillary walls
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B6
  • Riboflavin
  • Thiamine
  • Iron

Asparagus can help aide in weight loss, improve digestion, anti-inflammatory properties, and lower blood pressure. It can also be very beneficial for pregnancy. In some cultures, the rhizomes and roots of asparagus are actually used to treat urinary tract infections and stones of the bladder and kidneys. A type of wild asparagus (Asparagus racemosus), different from what is found here, actually played a very special role in Ayurvedic medicine development in India about 5,000 years ago.

Asparagus has been around for so many years. It is native to Europe, Africa, and Asia; however it eventually adapted and is now natural in North America, South America, Australia, and New Zealand. 

What country do you think produces the most asparagus in the world? If you guessed China, you are correct, they have a total production of about seven million metric tons! That’s a whole lot of asparagus! 

The top three states that produce asparagus in the United States are:

  1. California
  2. Washington
  3. Michigan (my home state!)

The most popular asparagus is green, however there is also white and purple variations. Have you ever tried the white and purple? I say I’m going to, but I always forget to pick some up or when I do see it, it doesn’t really go well with any of the dinners I have planned over the next few nights. 

There are many ways to prepare asparagus, my favorite is simply just sautéing in butter, garlic, and topping with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Sometimes, I just simply steam it as well. You can make soups, roast, bake, make asparagus fries, grill, and so much more with asparagus. It is so simple to just finish off a meal with asparagus; add it in with some pasta you made or just sauté it for a fast vegetable side to go with your meat you have made. What is your favorite way to prepare asparagus? Here I have a simple recipe for a perfect side dish that calls for asparagus and potatoes, my two favorites! 

Parmesan Crusted Potatoes and Asparagus:
1-1/2 pounds potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed
2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit 
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper 
  3. In a medium sized bowl, toss potatoes in 2 tablespoons of olive oil with salt and pepper
  4. Spread on baking sheet in a single layer
  5. Bake 20 minutes
  6. Using the same bowl, toss asparagus with remaining tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper
  7. Remove pan from the oven and flip potatoes
  8. Add asparagus to the pan and bake 15 minutes
  9. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is golden brown

When I made this (made with wild asparagus), I added some garlic for more flavor and I didn’t have parmesan cheese because I forgot to check before making it, but it was still delicious! I think it would be a really good side dish with steak! 


Green Thumbs Up!

Five Healthy Refreshing Summer Drinks

Here we are in the middle of summer with some crazy heat and the chance of becoming dehydrated so easy to happen. Water can get boring to drink and the ingredients in other drinks for hydration can be questionable. So, here I have five healthy drinks for you to make to refresh and keep hydrated. 

First, we have an energizing breakfast smoothie. I know, but you love your coffee in the mornings right? Me too! However, coffee can actually have dehydrating effects and that caffeine crash just is not a pleasant experience. Also, if you factor in the potential added sugar along with the additives in some of the creamers out there if you don’t take your coffee black, it’s not all that great for you. But, with this smoothie you know exactly what is going in it because you’re making it homemade with ingredients you have in your home! Not only is it perfect for that morning energy, but it’s also perfect for summer with how refreshing and cool it is! 

1 mango
1 banana
2 medium sized carrots, washed and peeled
1 inch fresh ginger, washed and remove bad spots
Half a lemon, peeled
Pinch of cayenne
1/4 cup raw cashews
1 date, pit removed
1+ cups water
1-2 ice cubes
Blend everything for about 30-60 seconds until smooth. Too thick? Add a half cup of water, blend 5-10 seconds. 

Second up is a cucumber watermelon smoothie. This right here is perfect for those of you that have kiddos at home, my daughter loves it! This is a fun way for them to keep hydrated instead of just drinking water because if they are anything like mine, they get so bored with plain drinks. Both cucumber and watermelon have high water content, making them a great team to combat dehydration. This smoothie is super easy to blend up, having only four ingredients and is also easy to double or triple or more for yourself, kiddos, or other guests! 

1 cup watermelon
1/2 cup cucumber
1/2 cup water
Few ice cubes (all about preference)
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until well combined.

Third is a homemade electrolyte drink. My interest peaked quite high when I discovered this online because I have health issues where it is hard for me to keep my electrolytes up and keeping hydrated. This is perfect to keep on hand for post workout and a plus is knowing all the ingredients! Yes, the drinks you can get in store are good and all but, additives, sugars, and and just some ingredients that can seem so questionable. I have found many recipes to making your own electrolyte drinks, but here is one that I have found is a fairly basic and simple base to add other flavors to! 

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1-1/2 to 2 cups water (personal preference on how flavorful you want it, you can also use coconut water)
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons honey
Put in a blender and blend until honey is dissolved. 
Add a few ice cubes when you pour a glass! 

Drink number four is a pineapple carrot turmeric smoothie. Thanks to the turmeric this smoothie has anti-inflammatory properties. That on top of all the amazing health benefits of the pineapple and carrots is a great choice for your health! Some things I have read say that this smoothie trio is supped to help with PMS symptoms. I’d love to find out if that is true or not, however I am pregnant and no women around me has a cycle. So, ladies, if you try this around your cycle time, let us know if it helped with any PMS symptoms at all! Honestly, when I stumbled upon this, I was just looking for a better way to get turmeric for my grandma to consume versus taking the supplements. 

2 cups pineapple chunks
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
1 banana, peeled
1 cup vanilla almond milk (or milk of your choice)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
4-6 ice cubes
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. 

Finally, the drink that I have found that has intrigued me the most and probably for the longest time, lavender lemonade. This drink intrigues me because it is supposed to help with anxiety and migraines. I suffer from anxiety and my mother suffers from both conditions. I’m not really skeptical about the whole helping combat anxiety due to the fact that I know lavender is very well known for the calming effects it has and I also use it quite frequently in my home. I’m hoping to talk my mom into trying this lemonade to see if it helps with her migraines at all. But, if all else fails, at least we have a refreshingly calming lemonade to drink on these stressful summer days! 

2-1/2 cups water
1 cup sugar or honey
1 tablespoon dried lavender
2-1/2 cups cold water
1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice 
Ice cubes
In a large saucepan, bring water and sugar (or honey) to a boil. Remove from heat and add lavender, cover and let stand one hour. Strain, discarding any lavender flowers. Stir in cold water and lemon juice. Serve over ice.


Green Thumbs Up!

Chipper Mulch

Gardening, something I’ve never really done in my 24 years of life. We’ve always lived somewhere where it wasn’t allowed as we were renting and my current house has a small yard and it’s mainly play place for children. However, it’s always something I’ve been slightly interested in! There’s so many different types of mulch out there for your gardens. What is mulch exactly you ask? Well, mulch is a material spread around or over a plant to enrich or insulate soil. The mulch I’ll be talking about with you all is wood chips. 

Trees have been on this earth forever, so really mulch has to have been around forever, too since you can use wood chips as mulch nowadays. Bark and leaves fall off trees, hitting the ground beneath and enriching it; hello mulch! Wood chip mulch also benefits the environment because the wood that is going to waste goes into a garden versus our landfills. This mulch is also readily available and unlike most mulches that are lightweight, it doesn’t blow around due to the wind as bad. If you feel it doesn’t look well after a while, you can simply just compost it or work it directly into your soil. 

In a study done in 1990, wood chips came in the top in the categories of moisture retention, temperature moderation, and weed control. 
Moisture retention because if you cover the soil with two inches of wood mulch it should slow moisture evaporation.
Temperature moderation because wood chips block the sun which will help keep the soil cool. 
Weed control because naturally weeds can have a difficult time emerging from beneath a cover of wood chips. 

The wood chips contain both wood and bark bits in a wide range of sizes. This can be beneficial because it allows water to infiltrate the soil and prevents compaction. With the bits of wood and bark along with the range of different sizes, it decomposes at different rates which then creates a diverse environment for soil organisms.

Like everything, there are also some potential cons on using wood chip as mulch. However, in trials and studies, the concerns have been found to be inconclusive. Altered soil pH, allopathic potentials, disease transfer, increased pest activity, and fire hazard are some of these potential cons. Other cons can come from specific trees an example being black walnut mulch as it has strong allopathic chemicals and therefore can limit germination and seedling growth. When using wood chips, use around established plants only and avoid use in a vegetable garden, except to create paths. 

Wood chip mulch comes in all sorts of different colors. Deep red, orange, ocher, coffee, black, rich mahogany brown, and more. Using the colored chips can offset your landscape. Colored wood chip mulch poses no threats to your plants, however the color will eventually fade as the chips break down. 

Wood chip mulch seems to be the mulch that is used around my hometown I noticed when I was walking around and looking at the plants the town has planted throughout town. Until now, I never really gave much thought into what they may use for all the plants. I’m sure for around here, though wood chips are the best option for use. 

Maybe one day, my family and I will start a little garden with use of wood chip mulch. Do you have a garden? Do you use mulch, if so which kind? 

There are so many options out there for us to choose from with both great pros and some not so great cons. I feel with all the options it truly makes it hard to decide!