Laundry on the Line

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It’s finally dry and warm enough to hang laundry on the line again!  For us, this one of the true harbingers of Spring. We so love the smell and feel of sheets, towels and clothes hung in the sunny air to dry! We’ve been experimenting with different homemade laundry soaps in our attempt to eliminate toxic chemicals from our little corner of the world. So far, our favorite is an adaptation of a recipe made with soap nuts, water, and essential oils.  We make our version in a large batch and like a citrus-y scent–we think it goes great with sun dried laundry!

Citrus Laundry Soap

Put 25-30 soap nuts in a large kettle or pan and add 1 gallon hot tap water. Put this on the stove and turn to medium high heat.  When the mixture starts to steam, turn the heat down to medium and let simmer for one hour.

Remove from heat and strain into a large glass jar (we use gallon jars like the ones used for cider or vinegar).

Add 10-15 drops each: grapefruit, sweet orange, and lemon essential oils. Put on a lid and shake carefully to combine.

This will keep for a couple months, but will likely need to be shaken a bit periodically.  We use about 1/4 cup per load of laundry. This can be combined with other detergents or soaps, if you’d like, but it works just fine on its own.

Spicy Soaps & Soothing Salts…So Perfect for the Season!

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Oatmeal Spice with Comfrey and Oatmeal Lemongrass soap

There’s a crispness in the air and mornings are cool and dark again. Fall conjures up thoughts of warm tea and hot cocoa; bowls of steaming oatmeal, and long, soothing soaks in a full tub.  Our latest additions to the Raggedy Hen Farm shop are all about seasonal comfort and we’ve been so excited to share them with you!

We have two new thick bars of soap chock full of our usual organic, natural and nourishing ingredients:

  • Oatmeal Lemongrass–This goats milk soap is made with plenty of Coconut oil and Olive oil and we’ve included organic Cocoa butter and beeswax from our own bees.  Organic Vanilla powder, organic oats, and Lemongrass essential oil all come together to make a subtly-scented and oh-so-good-for-your-skin bar of natural soap.
  • Oatmeal Spice with Comfrey–We got a little carried away with visions of warm cookies and spicy tea while creating this soap.  We started with a big pitcher of comfrey tea–made from organic comfrey we harvested from our garden.  Coconut oil, Olive oil, Cocoa butter and beeswax from our bees provided a wonderful canvass for spicy additions like peppermint, clove and lemon essential oils, and organic cinnamon, ginger and vanilla.  We tossed in some poppy seeds for exfoliation and organic oats for healing softness and what we have is the perfect soap for the cold months ahead!

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We have long depended on the muscle-soothing powers of Epsom salt for our own aging muscles and are always on the hunt for bath salts that are not filled with harmful detergents, chemicals or dyes.  It can also be tough to find bath salts that are not overwhelmingly scented.  We decided to create the very soaking salts we craved!  These Lavender Patchouli bath salts are made with the simplest ingredients: Epsom and Sea Salts, Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda), and Vitamin E Oil for extra healing.  We add organic lavender and patchouli (yes, the actual powdered leaves of both plants) and just the right combination of organic lavender and patchouli essential oils.  This makes for a crisp, rejuvenating-scented bath and soft, clean skin. It even leaves the bathroom smelling fresh and relaxing too!

You can find these new seasonal offerings in our Raggedy Hen Farm shop (along with some other comforts and treats.) They may be just what your weary self is craving after a busy, bustly Summer!

Gifts from the Forest

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Cedar tips and fir resin infusing in the sun.

We spent this past weekend deep in the woods in one of the magical, old-growth forests we have here in the Pacific Northwest.  We were saying “goodybe” to Summer by spending a few days camping with some of our grown kids.  Since we tend to take Raggedy Hen Farm wherever we go, we spent a little time ethically wild-harvesting some wonderful natural ingredients that we will be using in our soaps–cedar tips and conifer resin.

I grew up calling the super sticky stuff that can be found on conifer trees like fir, pine, cedar, and spruce trees “pitch,” but have since learned that is not exactly correct.  This resin is what the tree makes and sends to areas where there is injury to the tree to help heal those wounds.  Because of this, we are careful and only take a little bit of the older resin from several different trees and we harvest it with just our hands and a dullish knife, so we don’t cause any further injury to the tree. Over our camping weekend, Teri and I gathered a bit while on an afternoon hike; and our daughter Lucy and her boyfriend, Alex, gathered a bit too while they took a long half-day hike through another part of the woods.  We mostly harvested from fir trees, but gathered some cedar resin too.

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Teri is taking just a little hardened resin from this fir tree.

The resin smells amazing and has wonderful healing properties.  It is also fat soluble, so when we bring it home, we put it in a jar and cover it completely with olive oil.  This will infuse for several weeks before we strain it, and then use the oil in making soaps like our Forest Pine. Resin is not the only gift we brought back from the woods, however, and we also gathered some very aromatic cedar branch tips.  These smell just like Christmas to me!  We’ve also tucked those in a jar and covered with olive oil and we’ll have a deliciously infused oil from this in a few weeks too.

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Kori carefully gathering resin.

While we will mostly use these oils in soaps, you could actually use these in cooking.  Resin is also used in making incense and it can be dissolved in alcohol too. Since we are dedicated to using only all natural botanical ingredients and organic whenever possible in our soaps, we are learning ways to tap into the the goodness that the natural world has to offer.  Besides, there is something that feels a bit magical knowing the beautiful, old-growth forests high in the mountains (we were at almost 3,000 feet elevation), growing along a clear, spring and snow-fed stream are giving a little of themselves to folks all over the U.S. who use our soaps.