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Summer Memories and Magical Herbs

I’ve always loved this time of year. Back when I was at school it meant holiday time because we used to finish school on the 30th of June. For me, the summer was mainly associated with holidays at my grandma’s cottage in Hrochot… beautiful countryside, playing outside all day long, long walks and hiking but also early mornings, as we had to water the garden before it was too hot. I loved (and still do) going with my mum and harvesting some wild grown herbs like St. John’s wort and oregano. I’ll also never forget the sweetest and smallest wild strawberries, cherries and the other berries later in summer.

We’d arrive home with baskets full of herbs and we’d sort them. Some of them would be wound tight in little bunches and would dry in the loft, hanging upside down for a few weeks. The others, like St. John’s wort, mum would marinate. She would put the flowers and some leaves into a jar and pour virgin olive oil or sweet almond oil in making sure the flowers were completely covered with oil to prevent moulding. The jars were then placed on the window sill for about 4 weeks after which mum would strain the flowers using a muslin cloth. Then… VOILA, we had lovely red/brown sometimes even deep red oil.   
Remember, oil should be kept in a dark glass bottle in a cool, dark place.

This oil, that you too can make, has many therapeutic properties: It’s beneficial in cases of inflamed nerve conditions like neuralgia, sciatica, and fibrositis. From my own experience, I used this oil with great success when I had sciatica a few years ago
It lowers the skin temperature when used on burns and inflammation, including sunburn
It’s been suggested for haemorrhoids, gout, rheumatism, sores, ulcers, urticaria, herpes (L. Price, 2008)
When mixed with calendula oil it is very effective on bruises
When diluted with a base carrier oil (25% dilution) it’s very effective as a full body massage oil for stress relief
 
Note that it does have photosensitising properties, therefore, shouldn’t be used before sun exposure.
 
St.John’s wort plant can also be used to make herbal tea for anxiety, depression, gastric conditions, and unrest. Again, this tea shouldn’t be digested before going out, as it can cause delayed hypersensitivity or photodermatitis. 
 
Animals also know the benefits of this oil. According to Caroline Ingraham, St John’s wort is frequently selected by animals who suffer from fits and epilepsy and in cases of anxiety, depression, nerve pain, and tooth pain.
 
Another oil my mum makes is calendula oil. This oil is made by maceration of calendula blossoms in vegetable oil.

Calendula oil promotes healing and reduces inflammation, and can be used on: Broken veins
Varicose veins
Soothing tired legs
Bruises
Cuts
For irritated and sensitive skin

Give it a try and let me know what you think ❤︎
Jitka xx

The Astonishing Soap Nut

I’m so excited to be offering you Soap Nuts on my website! You may be asking yourself what it has to do with dogs though? I often feel that we consider our dogs needs more than we do our own. We do more for our dogs than we do for ourselves, we buy them better food, better supplements and we worry that they don’t exercise enough or perhaps too much… sound familiar? 

More and more dogs these days suffer from different types of allergies, and sometimes it’s difficult, even with a blood test, to find out what’s actually going on. We can really only try and limit the causes to a certain point or give the dog prescribed medication. In my previous blog (found here) I mentioned what we can use, and do, to help our dogs that suffer from skin allergies such as change food, give immunity-boosting supplements, wash their toys, wash their beds, and bath, bath, bath!! 🛁

Some dogs can be even allergic to laundry detergent.  Skin reactions are often concentrated around the face, groin, under the front legs, or between the toes. Allergic reactions to laundry detergent can be caused by mere contact with laundered bedding, dog backpacks or clothing, or by contact with clothing worn by us. So why not change our detergent to hypoallergenic, 100% natural and a compostable option? TO SOAP NUTS!!

The main reason soap nuts are hypoallergenic is because they’re a fruit and it’s very rare to have a fruit allergy. However, just to be sure, the natural soap in the soap nuts have been tested by dermatologists and 100% of subjects tested had ZERO reaction (noticeable irritation) after 48 hours of exposure. It’s nice when modern science can prove what ancient civilizations have known all along! Soap nuts have also been tested and found to have mild anti-fungal and anti-microbial activity. BONUS!

Soap nuts are great for all fabrics and can be used at all temperatures from
30-90°C. They’re great for all washing machines, especially energy efficient machines & great for all allergy sufferers, not just dogs.

Soap nut fruits actually contain a natural soap called saponin, which is released when they come into contact with water. They help free dirt and grime from clothes and help carry it away. This is how all synthetic detergents work. So with every laundry, you are not only helping your dog, your family and yourself, but also our planet. There is no planet B…

Pop on over to www.soapnuts.co.uk to go read more about this incredible fruit nut! It’s taught me a lot!

Jitka xx

Itchy dog? Why You MUST Bath Your Dog More Not Less!

Over the last few decades, we’ve seen more and more dogs with allergic dermatitis, food intolerances and immune-mediated diseases. We can try to limit the causes to a certain point and we can give the dog prescribed medication, however, this usually only provides short-term relief or improvement. Inevitably they will rear their ugly heads again sooner or later.  
There is, however, one thing we can do at home to help our itchy dog… bath, bath and bath again 🛁.

I bet in the past you’ve heard that you shouldn’t bath your dog often, perhaps even not at all? This was quite common a few years ago, especially with terrier people who believed terriers were not supposed to be bathed at all. Shampoos, in the past, were largely based on tar and sulphur but they have come a far way since then.

Bathing your dog at home is very effective, cheap and the sensible thing to do in order to remove the allergens from the coat and skin. Bathing provides immediate relief and the guideline is to bath your itchy dog at least once a week. 

The key is to choose your shampoo wisely. Go for a natural shampoo, containing coconut oil, argan oil, charcoal, jojoba oil, neem oil, calendula oil and essential oils like lavender, peppermint and chamomile. Read the label carefully because some shampoos contain natural and/or organic ingredients but can still contain some toxic chemicals.

Avoid shampoos with:

❌ added dyes or colourants
❌ artificial fragrances, as they are linked to allergies, headaches etc.
❌ parabens
❌ mineral oils
❌ Sodium laureth sulfate
❌ Stearalkonium chloride

If you’d like to do some DIY you can even make your own shampoo from soap nuts! Soap nuts (sometimes called “soap berries”) are probably the most sustainable cleaning product we can get 🙂

What are they? They’re an all-natural, plant-based product (they grow on a tree) that are easy to grow organically and require very little processing or packaging.
Soap nuts are naturally hypoallergenic, odourless, highly effective and gentle at the same time. There are countless ideas on how to use them, making them sustainable and versatile. Soap nut fruits actually contain a natural soap called saponin, which is released when they come into contact with water.

Here’s how you can make your own shampoo which doubles up as a cleaning product as well!

Add a hand full of soap nuts to 3 cups of water and simmer for 30 minutes then let it cool down and strain it. You can then use this liquid to clean your kitchen floors, etc and you can even freeze it! An idea is to make ice cubes and then add them to your bucket of water to wash the floor. If you put the liquid in the blender you get a nice silky, foamy liquid that can be used as a 100% natural shampoo for you and your dog. Just be careful to avoid the eyes as it really stings.

As this product is all natural with no preservatives it won’t last long, in fact, only a couple of days in the fridge. I’d recommend making a fresh batch every time you need to bath your dog.

Another way to soothe itchy skin and balance the skin’s pH level, is to make an apple cider vinegar & green tea rinse:

🍏 ½ cup green tea; cooled down
🍏 ½ cup apple cider vinegar
🍏 1 cup distilled or boiled water cooled down

Mix it all up well, then wash your dogs as usual and rinse well with plenty of clean water. Apply the pre-made rinse on the dog’s coat and skin, massaging it in well. You can rinse it off or leave it on the coat and it can then work as a bug, fly and flea repellent as well! WOW!

You can keep the mixture in the fridge, in a closed jar, for about a week or two but if it gets mouldy, don’t use it!

Let me know how it goes?

Do You Feel The Eco Guilt?

You’ve probably seen our small gift boxes and bundles containing oil burners, scented stones and candles. They’re very pretty in their little boxes but what’s always bothered me is the plastic lid…

Yes, you could say that one small, thin piece of plastic is not going to change the world. Perhaps not… but it makes me feel better 😊. Some things, however, are hard to change, in fact, impossible at the moment – for example, the plastic spray tops on my bottles. There is, unfortunately, no alternative I can use so I have to stick with these for who knows how long 🤷🏻‍♀️.

Do you ever feel like you’re not doing enough for the environment? Do you feel the eco guilt? When I start to feel this way I gently remind myself that although I can’t lower my environmental footprint overnight, I can be mindful of my decisions when it comes to what to buy and what to use.
.
We can all make small changes in our lives that move towards a greener, minimal waste or even zero waste lifestyle. Little things, like…

🌏 Refusing a plastic bag – yes, I can carry all 10 oranges and 5 lemons and a bunch of bananas in my pockets and arms, thank you very much!

🌏 Picking the unwrapped broccoli instead of the wrapped one

🌏 Ask for no straw

🌏 Choose a tin over a plastic bottle

There really are so many ways! 

In my business, I’m implementing small changes such as…

🌳 Changing to paper tape for my parcels. I’m using 100% recyclable tape, which is an environmentally friendly paper-based solution to ordinary parcel tape.

🌳 I try to reuse most of the cardboard boxes that come to our house even though new ones are better looking and sometimes even easier to use.

🌳 Inside the boxes, you’ll find paper filling which is manufactured from recycled fibres.

🌳 Another little step is new wrapping that I’m using for our lovely hand made oil burners. Geami wrapping material is a combination of tissue paper and a top layer of Kraft paper that expands the die cut paper into a 3D honeycomb structure. This great wrapping material is a sustainable alternative to bubble wrap. If I ever use bubble wrap it would be some that I’ve received in other parcels.

Back to the small gift boxes… a small wicker basket is filled with cream, crinkle cut, shredded paper which makes a nice bed for the small burners, scented stones and other products. And what do I use for the cover… cellophane film. I’ve been doing some research and to my surprise, I found out that cellophane is not a plastic! Who knew?!

According to About.com, cellophane is made from cellulose fibres, which usually come from wood or cotton. The cellulose fibres are then sent through a narrow slit into an acid bath. The biggest difference, chemically, between cellophane and plastic wrap is the presence of Chlorine in plastic wrap (PVC) which is not in cellophane. Also, the mechanical performance is different. Cellophane is permeable to moisture vapour while plastic wrap is not. Cellophane is also weaker and stretches less than plastic wrap.

Have you received a product in our new packaging 🎁 yet? What do you think? The professional photo’s will be coming to the website very soon… watch this space!
Jitka xx
 

What People Say...

When we got home from the hospital with our new arrival it was clear that Perri, one of our miniature poodles, maternal instincts kicked in and went into overdrive. She was immediately acting like a mother separated from her pups and just wanted to care for the ‘naked puppy’. She has a history of being so motherly, even to the point that she has produced milk for puppies that aren’t hers even before she had a litter and has mothered every type of animal she could. She was panting, pacing and unable to relax for long at all. She could whine for England!

We tried other herbal remedies we had at hand for a previous anxious dog and nothing worked at all. She stopped eating and stressed herself into overheating too. Her stress was starting to impact the other dogs and she just couldn’t unwind. No matter if we worked off her energy with a walk and she wasn’t even interested in her usual mind games or call games. We also couldn’t offer long-lasting treats and chews too often as they gave her an upset stomach.

As soon as the Calming Floral Spray arrived I gave the bed a spritz and put some on her coat and the change was instant. She just got on her bed and fell asleep. She stopped panting and barely whines now, started eating again and she only does a bit of whining if the baby cries. We have now been able to positively reinforce her calm behaviour. I honestly can’t recommend this enough to people.
Natalie Griffiths