Chalkboard-Style Apothecary Labels

Just a few days ago I was talking about the DIY health and beauty products I need to make for fall. So I got to thinking, I’m going to have to label all of this stuff and they may as well be pretty. And then I serendipitously got an email from Avery highlighting chalkboard-style label designs. Problem solved.

And then I figured if I was going to design four labels I may as well design twelve, and if I’m going to design twelve I may as well share them with all of you as a free download! So that is how my mind works.

So, without further ado, here is my set of a dozen labels for DIY health and beauty products that I think are great to have around –

DIY Chalkboard Apothecary Labels

label pic

And here are links to the pages of the recipes that these labels reference, from some of my favorite blogs and home remedy resources (these are not my recipes) –

Elderberry Syrup

Ginger Salve

Burn Salve

Peppermint Foot Cream

Sleep Salve

Sea Salt Spray

Lavender Bath Salts

Valerian Mint Cordial

Lavender Salve

Shower Tablets

Oatmeal Bath

Body Butter

And to state the obvious – please enjoy these labels for personal use only. These are not allowed to be sold or used on products that are made for sale. Please also thoroughly research any home remedy before use, especially when using on children.


The Fall Apothecary: Preparing for Cool Weather

It’s been ninety degrees and humid for the last two days. It is still summer. But school starts next week (and Little Man will be headed off to preschool!) and there are little hints here and there that the season is waning. The first leaves have started to yellow, and a few have drifted to the ground. And the days are shorter – the sun isn’t fully up until just after six, and it’s dark by eight – somewhere along the way, we’ve lost an hour and a half of glorious summer sunlight. You can be in denial all you want, but summer is coming to an end. So why waste time of denial? Better to plan ahead for the fall season and be sure you’re prepared to face it head on.

There are a few things I’d like to be sure to have on hand to be ready for cold and flu season, and to deal with the aches and pains that seem more prevalent when cold weather sets in. Here’s my to do list for the next couple of weeks –

Elderberry Syrup (for colds and flu)

Ginger Salve (for sore muscles)

Valerian Mint Cordial (as a sleep aid)

Sea Salt Spray (to keep my summer waves/hairstyle a little while longer)

Ten Minute Project: Mason Jar Light Shades

I have long loved mason jars, and I usually favor using them in the practical application for which they are intended – food storage. But mason jar light shades are great – they lend a little bit of homestead flair to the kitchen, without being too gimmicky.

There are quite a few tutorials out there for how to do them,  but the one at Three Little Black Birds for Mason Jar Droplights was the easiest to follow and didn’t necessarily require power tools (replace the cordless drill with an awl and hammer, and you’re all set) or insane things, like attempting to drill through glass. Simply modify a jar lid by punching a hole in it, and voila – you’ve got a light. She didn’t call for adding vent holes to the top, but I did punch some smaller holes around the top to allow air flow – I’ve heard a few stories about the light fixtures over heated otherwise, and causing the glass to shatter. So better safe than sorry – I’d recommend adding them.

So, theses were the ugly-in-my-eyes light shades that came with the house – a faux stained glass nineties situation. This is what they looked like in the listing photo –


And this is what they look like now, after my brother-in-law magically got them to come off (they were seriously stuck!), and another ten minutes of my time punching holes in the lids –

mason jar lights

I absolutely love them! I’ll likely get a more decorative light bulb soon to put in there, and I may go with just a standard pint jar (these are pint-and-a-half jars), but we’ll see. I probably won’t do an Edison bulb here, as this is over our peninsula so we need brighter light for when we work in this area, and Edisons are not easy on the utility bill so I definitely do not plan to have them all over the house, despite my affection for their appearance. I’ll probably get some kind of standard, decorative chandelier bulb to dress them up a bit. But even with the plain bulb, these are a huge, huge improvement. I continue to be amazed and excited that the little updates make such a huge difference – and for me, these were basically free as I’ve always had an excess of jars and the light fixture was already in place.

1st Place at the County Fair!

Well, my baking is as good as I’d hoped it would be! My coffee cake came in 1st place!

coffee cake

And my pumpkin bread and blueberry pie each came in at third place!



Advance Planning in the Garden

Is it too early to start planning next year’s garden, when this summer’s has just started to produce? Maybe practically speaking, but the problem with garden planning in the middle of winter is two fold – first, all of the realities of how the garden works and what you do with it are often forgotten, and second, your imagination quite easily runs away with itself.

For example, this was supposed to be this year’s plan –


We didn’t even build beds in this configuration since we had to relocate the orchard. And there’s a lot of great stuff in here, but not in the quantities that reflect what we’ll actually eat. We want more tomatoes, way less big onions, and we don’t need to grow zucchini – we can buy the handful we want at the farmer’s market. Ditto on the watermelons and leeks. And where are the potatoes? Relegated in the “plan” to some mythical other spot in the yard, and of course they never ended up getting planted.

So, in the thick of this growing season, I’m planning ahead for the next to try to learn from those mistakes. This is what we’ll plan to grow next season (each square represents a square foot) –


From left to right – Rutgers tomatoes, Gold Nugget tomatoes, Early jalapenos, Spacemaster cucumbers (2 per square), Small Sugar pumpkin, Mini Jack Baby pumpkin, Evergreen Bunching onions (36 per square), Lacinato kale, Tom Thumb lettuce (4 per square), and an entire bed of Yukon Gold potatoes. The Spacemaster cucumbers are a bush varietal so they should not need trellising and the pumpkins will be trained up a shared A-frame trellis. The onions, kale and lettuce will all be succession planted to spread out the harvest through the season.

We’ll also continue growing herbs in pots on the deck – thyme, rosemary, parsley, peppermint, and sage. I’d also like to add in oregano and lavender. And of course we have the orchard – the apples, persimmons, hazelnuts and blueberries. And we’ll try a few pots of strawberries too. I also haven’t given up on raspberries – we’ll plant some new canes and try them again, but next year we’ll buy them locally.

Anything else we want or need we can get at the farmer’s market, so I think it’s a good mix. The stuff we use the most and eat the most of might not be the unusual and exciting, but it’ll be incredibly useful to have all of that at our fingertips. So now that’s out the way, maybe I’ll go less overboard ordering seeds in December!

The 9×3 Donation Plan

We are really big on donating when ever we can – it helps those in need and it prevents good, usable items from ending up in a landfill. From outgrown clothes and toys, to furniture and household goods that we upgrade or no longer have a use for, pretty much everything is fair game.

As an avid yard saler myself though, I still wanted to be able to hold a yard sale each summer, to offset the costs of vacation or Christmas. So then it occurred to me – we can easily do both, and by default kind of already do. For nine months out of the year, we donate things we don’t need. Then for the three summer months, we save them up for an end-of-summer yard sale – problem solved! We do set aside a few items in the other months if they have a high resale value, like children’s furniture, but for the most part the 9×3 rule works pretty well at our house – if you’ve struggled with balancing charitable donations with making a little extra pocket cash, this may be a solution that works for you as well.

Fair Season

Ah yes, fair season is upon us. Carnival rides, elephant ears, corn dogs, and of course – the home economics competitions. After spending the majority of my life in Chicago (where Cook county does not run a county fair) I am finally living in a county that does. So after years and years of wanting to enter my food in the fair to compete for the coveted blue ribbon, I finally have my chance!

I decided to enter three things this year that have been winners in our household for many seasons – my crumb coffee cake, my pumpkin butter pumpkin bread and blueberry pie.

I’ve got the pumpkin butter cooking down in the crock pot at the moment, but I am procrastinating firing up the oven to do any actual baking as yet – it’s 80 degrees and humid here. I was outside earlier to mulch the vegetable beds with straw, and it was brutal. So I think I’ll wait until the sun goes down before firing it up. But today is the day for baking, hot temps or no – everything needs to be dropped off on Tuesday and the fair starts Wednesday!