Solar Blessings: Handcrafted St. John's Wort Oil, Deeply Penetrating Herbal Healing

These 4oz bottles of organic St. John's Wort body oil are now available in the shop!

As you can see, I rocked the shit out of my little river photo shoot the other night. Not that I can take credit for this gorgeous image. It's all the oil, the river, and especially the sunshine. I can't help but feel that the red sunlight fairies that showed up in these photos are little blessings on this whole endeavor, some sort of magical infusion gifted from the sun at this final step of the months-long medicine making process.

You can read a full description of this medicine's many beneficial properties within the Etsy listing, but I will include a short list of them here:

❤ carries the properties of the full summer sun with it into the body's tissues

❤ deeply relaxing to sore and stressed muscles

❤ quickly penetrates, strengthens, and nourishes the nerves to alleviate short or long-term nerve damage and pain

❤ warms and calms the entire body

❤ soothes and heals bumps, bruises, sprains, burns, etc.

I've been promising a post on the whole process for a while now, so here it is. To be sure, it's the same process as the homemade lavender oil I posted about a while back, but it bears repeating. Homemade herbal medicine is so simple and beneficial, I'll do whatever I can to teach others how to do it :-)

It all started on the Summer Solstice back in June, when Mycelia and I set out to harvest more St. John's Wort (hypericum perforatum) than we have in years past, while being sure to leave enough for it to re-seed and continue to flourish here. My sister Lacey also helped with the gathering.

You know you've got the right plant when bruising it leaves deep red marks on your fingers. This is from the hypericin, the active medicinal compound that turns the tincture and the oil made from the plant the incredible red color that it's famous for..

 

On a mission.

When we got home I quickly got to work chopping up the herb into as many small pieces as possible; the more surface area of the plant material that comes into contact with the medium extracting its medicinal properties (in this case, the organic olive oil), the stronger the medicine will be.

Next the oil is poured over the top of the herb, which has already been placed into the steeping container. Herbalists differ in the herb-to-oil ratio they use. I tend to be pretty free form with it and just put as much plant material as I've got into the jar, then add the oil. You want to fill the jar to the very, very top, leaving zero room for air once the lid has been put on. So the top of the oil is touching the bottom of the lid. No air = no mold. Slowly stirring a chopstick through before you top it off will bring any air bubbles up to the surface, and you also want to remove the lid every few days to see if more oil needs to be added (it has a sneaky way of lowering once the steeping process begins).

When all was said and done, I had 5 gallons! I like to steep my herbs for one full moon cycle. This year the Solstice coincided with the new moon, so the oil brewed between the June and July new moons.

The infusing process with St. John's Wort is more visually rewarding to behold than with any other herbal medicine, due to the ruby red hue that the hypericin imparts to the liquid medium over time. It is truly satisfying to watch the liquid redden more day by day. (This is true for making it into a tincture for internal use as well, see my Etsy listing for more on what it is about this herb that makes it good for depression when taken internally and warming and relaxing when used externally).

When it was time to strain out the oil, Lacey and my friend Sarah were here to help. I gathered all the kitchen funnels I've got, along with some cheesecloth (though I learned from this experience that I prefer cotton muslin), and we got to work.

After the straining out (putting a large beach towel under the whole scene turned out to be a very good idea), I poured all five gallons into an eight gallon container to ensure that it was all evened out and each bottle would yield the exact same medicine.

The differences in color are due to the thickness of the oil. A gallon is deep red, a half gallon is jewel-hued and less opaque, and the 4oz bottles look more orange than red in some light.

I ordered the labels on Etsy and am very happy with how they turned out. The text reads: Gathered on the Summer Solstice at peak potency, this ruby-hued body oil is pure liquid sunshine. Deeply relaxing and warming to the musculature and nervous system, use it for isolated aches and pains or for total body realignment after a bustling day.

Here's the current scene in my kitchen window. It brings me much joy to look at every day.

Once again, you can read more about the healing properties of this oil and perhaps purchase a bottle (at a very reasonable price) here ❤ 

 

LOCALS: Message me if you'd like to meet up in person to get your bottle. You can either pay me in person then or pay via Etsy by using coupon code SUNSHINE at checkout, which will remove the shipping cost for your order.

Summer Thrift Scores

Ah, the thrifting life is certainly a rewarding one. Surprising, at times tedious, but always worth the effort. I recently scored both of these white lace dresses (thus adding to my ever growing collection of all things white lace) and this perfect stretchy belt and these wicked, witchy purple shoes (which will be for sale in the shop soon, but I can't say the same about the dresses! Or the belt).

I am so completely smitten with this doll. It's the clothes, of course. Such gorgeous embroidery! And the red skirt with lace! The apron, the bonnet! So Eastern European peasant. The stockings are fabulous too. And her face is so intricate and lovely. After considering a slew of other, really quite prettier, names I decided that I had to go with my heart and name her Maja Lisa, after a character in the novel Hanna's Daughters, which I just finished and is about about three generations of Scandinavian women.

The grandmotherly lady at the thrift store had a soft spot for little girls and gave this doll to us for only $3.

Here we have two of the most practical scores of the summer. This darling plaid apron for the hours and hours and hours (and hours and hours and hours...) of kitchen work (which I am not complaining about, I am finding that I am becoming more domestic by the day, and that having a couple of lovely aprons around adds an extra dimension of comfort and joy to the repetitive tasks). And this killer playhouse/tent that has sure gone a long way toward keeping my girl occupied in the last couple weeks! It was marked at $20 but, as I've mentioned before, the Salvation Army's in this area have the whackiest sales and on this day it was "anything with white in it half off", so we paid $10 (plus the price of me having to fend off another mama who was trying to move in on my score!).

And finally, a little preview of the beautiful new vintage that will be making its way into the shop later this week. I have been more selective in my shopping and trading lately and am really stoked on these pieces- each so unique and distinctive- and am very much looking forward to photographing them and sharing them with you all soon :-)

Pretty Summer Dresses for Mother & Daughter, Part 2

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Okay, here I am wearing yet another birthday gift dress, this one from Milla, who also gave me my beautiful new Gunne! I love the crochet detailing at the neck and sleeves here and decided to offset it with the lace hem of a slip underneath.

And Miss Mycelia, who insisted we wear our blue dresses together, is wearing the most adorable vintage dress that I got for half off at the Salvation Army recently. Not only is it the sweetest print with the most precious details, but it is an I Magnin! Sasha first introduced me to this brand, which was in fact a retailer in San Francisco that catered to the hippie and bohemian tastes of the 60s and 70s. I've had many an I Magnin piece come through the shop, but had never seen a child's garment before. It fits her perfectly and I can't wait to dress her in it constantly this spring and summer.

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Now I don't know if it is a nation wide thing or just regional to the seven Salvation Army's in our area, but those stores are having the craziest sales lately. They majorly upped their prices last year but make up for it by having some sort of sale every day. The day I got Mycie's dress above I also got this one for myself. It was a "Red, White, and Blue" sale day, meaning if what you buy contains any of those colors, it's half off!

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Mycie's top here is another gift from Joanne, hand made by her grandmother in my beloved red gingham. And I must say that I am just as stoked on this dress for daily spring and summer for myself as I am for hers.

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See? Fun! Okay Mr. Sunshine, time to emerge from hibernation...