Dutchies Delights

Since I fell in love with macrame jewellery I couldn’t help wanting to learn more. Renske Dutchie Bergman gave me a lesson, and with those skills and childhood practice on friendship bracelets and imagination I started making my own pieces. I absolutely love and admire her pieces of macrame jewellery.

Have a look at some of Dutchies Delights. She never ceases to surprise me with her perfection of detail. She also does customised pieces, if you have a favourite stone you’d like to have as a jewellery, then contact her. She does necklaces, bracelets, anklets, earrings and much more.

You can find her contacts on http://www.facebook.com/DutchiesDelights

Check out these beauties. Absolutely amazing pieces of jewellery.

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Eco-friendly and mild soap for sensitive people

Since I realised I was highly sensitive, to a lot of things, especially chemicals in mainstream cosmetics, I decided to start researching the subject and make my own products from organic and more mild ingredients for sensitive skin.

My mission is to also get others interested in the matter because if more people would buy organic, local or even make their own home-made cosmetics and other health products, we would as a community leave less of a footprint on our Mother Earth and also cause ourself less harm with less harmful toxins in our homes and our bodies.

By choosing to not purchase soaps, shampoos and other products you may use from the mainstream companies, you chose not to support mass production and waste of chemicals into our environment.

Buy local! There are heaps of different organic, sustainable and eco-friendlt companies out there. Just take your pick!

If you wanted to try make it yourself though! You have come to the right place.
Today, I am teaching you how to make your own eco-friendly and skin-sensitive soaps.

To start with, you are going to need a few tools for make soaps.
~ A slowcooker (that is ONLY used for this purpose and not ever for cooking after you have made soap in it)
~ A stick mixer (same goes here and with any equipment that come into contact with the lye (NaOH))
~ Kitchen scale
~ Spoon with a long handle
~ Glass jars for measuring (never to be used in cooking either!)
~ Thermometer (kitchen thermometer works great)
~ pH-strips to test the soap once it is done
~ Protective gear, includes glasses, gloves and long sleeve shirt
~ Bowl for vinegar (to clean with and in case you’d get any lye on your skin)

INGREDIENTS:
~ Organic Coconut Oil (Raw and cold-pressed is best)
~ Optional other oils of your choice (olive, avocado, hemp seed or calendula infused oil for example)
~ Water (preferably distilled, to make a solution of lye)
~ Sodium Hydroxide, “Caustic Soda” or “Lye” (NaOH) (which will convert into soap and glycerine)

AMOUNTS:

~ 65% oils (total of all oils you’d like to use, I usually use around 50% coconut oil and 15% of other oils)
~ 25% water
~ 10 % lye

For example; In my latest batch of soap I used
– 350g oils
– 135g water
– 55g lye

WARNING
~ Always use the protective gear, especially glasses and gloves, long sleeve to prevent burns.
NEVER pour water into lye, it can cause an explosion
~ Always pour lye into cold water, if the water is hot it can also cause an explosion due to the heat
~ Do not breathe in the vapours of the reaction as they can be harmful, the reaction produces heat so keep a distance and stir with a long handled spoon.
~ Use the right amount of water and oils to convert ALL the lye, or the soap will be too alkali and may burn your skin.

INSTRUCTIONS: (follow carefully to not harm yourself)
1. Measure the amounts of all ingredients. Remembering that any equipment you use (or some into contact with lye) you should never again use in cooking, so keep a separate set of tools for soap making.
2. Set your slow cooker on low.
3. Place the coconut oil (and other oils of your choice) in the slow cooker, and let it melt while doing the next step.
4. Add the water to a glass jar (intended for the chemical reaction) and take it outside with the lye and a spoon with a long handle. Wearing protective gear, slowly add lye to water (again, never add water to lye!) and be careful not to breathe in the vapours. Slowly stir the mixture with the spoon, until it has transitioned from cloudy white back to transparent. Then bring inside, let it cool down for 5-10 minutes.
5. Use the thermometer and heat the coconut oil(s) until roughly 50-60 degrees (Celsius).
6. Once the oil is warm enough and the lye has cooled down slightly. Add the lye to the coconut oil(s).
7. Using the stick blender, mix the lye and oils until the mixture has a constancy of a light pudding. This might take a while. I find that turning the slow cooker off while doing this speeds up the process.
8. Set the slow cooker on low and cover with the lid and let cook. This step is the longest and takes about 60 minutes, depending on the amount of ingredients and what oils etc. you have used as well as the temperature of the slow cooker.
CHECK OFTEN! The oils should rise up on the sides like a wave and then fold into the mixture.
9. When the soap is ready it should look like semi-translucent vaseline with no oil puddles in the middle.
10. To test the soap, so that it is ready, use the pH-strips. The soap should not be higher than 10! If it is between 7-10 it is done. (If you do not have pH-strips, you can test the soap on yourself, dip your finger tip, the soap should feel waxy, and NOT zap you when you touch your tongue with your fingertip.. However I prefer not to do this test so I got pH strips beforehand)

~ If you want any essential oils in your soap then add these once the mixture has cooled a little or they will lose their natural fragrance (if using any I only recommend using organic & 100% pure essential oils, and then never use the soap for children as they are very sensitive to essential oils.) If you have any questions about fragrances please do ask me.

~ Let them sit on a rack/tray with space in-between for about 2-3 weeks in an area with good air flow. However you may use the soap straight away, but it is best to let is sit and cure properly. The longer you leave the soap to cure after you have placed it on the trays the lesser pH it will have, as it cures over time and the conditioning properties of the coconut oil will fully develop. The saponification process is finished after 2 weeks, and then the longer you leave the soaps the better the lather, and the milder it gets. Best result is after 8-9 weeks.

~ If you have a bread loaf pan or bigger mold for your soap then cut it as soon as it has cooled down to a firm consistency. Take out of mold, slice into pieces and place on trays for curing.

For less of a messy blog entry, as I have noticed any time I add pictures amongst text, its a hassle of getting them where I want them. (Will sooner rather than later get my own website built by me uploaded for easier use and a more personal design)

PICTURE INSTRUCTIONS

1. MEASURE INGREDIENTS
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2. SET YOUR SLOW COOKER ON LOW AND ADD THE COCONUT OIL (AND OTHER OILS)
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3. TAKE YOUR WATER AND LYE, GO OUTSIDE AND ADD LYE TO WATER, WEARING PROTECTIVE GEAR!

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4. ONCE THE COCONUT OIL IS AROUND 50 DEGREES AND THE LYE HAS COOLED DOWN ADD THE LYE TO THE SLOW COOKER

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5. USING THE STICK MIXER, MIX UNTIL MIXTURE LOOKS LIKE A LIGHT PUDDING

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6. ONCE IT HAS THE RIGHT CONSISTENCY, PUT LID ON AND COOK ON LOW UNTIL DONE

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7. ONCE YOU HAVE DONE A PH TEST THEN TRANSFER TO YOUR MOLD(S) AND LET COOL

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AND VOILA!

YOU HAVE MADE SOAP. CONGRATULATIONS. NOW BE PATIENT AS IT HAS TO CURE FOR MINIMUM TWO WEEKS, HOWEVER YOU MAY TRY THE SOAP STRAIGHT AWAY.

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Toxic Topic

I thought I’d share some knowledge about the toxic chemical compounds in the mainstream shampoos that a lot of people use these days, what ingredients to look out for and what you can substitute them with for a more natural and healthy choice.

Being a hypersensitive person, I as a kid was sensitive to a lot of different fruits, like strawberries, tomatoes, mandarins and kiwis amongst many other things.. And as I grew up realised I can in fact eat these without any problems, if I buy them organic. If they are sprayed with toxic chemicals and pesticides, my body will know. Getting rashes and swollen body parts was a standard thing for me.. with some symptoms worse than others. Until I eventually had enough, and did more analysing of the food I was eating and the products I was using..

My worst enemy.. It was the shower, after every shower, I’d have red itchy rashes all over my body. Not a nice feeling when you’ve had a really nice and refreshing shower to feel clean and cleansed.. I soon realised the criminal was the shampoo I was using and I had a read on the back of the bottle.. Oh dear, the amount of ingredients that I couldn’t even pronounce. This is one of the reasons why I decided to start taking chemistry and biology classes.

So, I quit using shampoo and simply use a little organic castile soap if not just water to wash my hair. And some organic coconut oil as conditioner for the tips now and then to keep them from drying out. And it is healthier than ever before. I did some research and found a whole heap of information about the ingredients put in that plastic bottle of shampoo. This is when it gets scary, as some of these ingredients are actually carcinogenic, hormonal disrupters and can cause infertility. Why on earth put these ingredients in something that some people would use every day, and in a hot water shower where your body is way too open and lets these toxic chemicals straight into your bloodstream through your pores.

Either the manufacturers simply do not know, and are therefore mindless for using ingredients they don’t know enough about. Or they do not care, about anything but money, and the usage of these ingredients makes the product cheaper to produce. So, people, we’re dealing with hypocrites who don’t care or idiots who don’t know. But thanks to some aware and caring human beings on this planet, the knowledge is spreading, and there is healthy non-toxic products out there, you just have to take the time and look for them.

But with the big mainstream company names covering up their mindless and selfish acts, the smaller environmental eco-friendly companies need to be promoted, and their knowledge spread wider. Take for example Coca Cola, who pays nutritionists to say that aspartame and whatever else they put in their bottles, are actually healthy. Now, who believes that? But, if some nutritionist says its true, is must be, or?

Don’t trust anything but proper sources with scientific proof. Therefore, I go to, for example, IARC (The International Agent for Research of Cancer) and similar organisations for information about the different products. I mean, if it has been classified as carcinogenic by one big Environmental Health organisation, that’s it, I will not use any product with that ingredient.

For one, the usage of the compound Cocamide DEA, cocamide diethanolamine, a chemically modified form of coconut oil, widely used as a foaming agent in many cosmetic products, has been listed as a carcinogenic by The International Agent for Research of Cancer (IARC) as well as the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. For a source and further information about Coconut oil diethanolamine, follow this link. http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol101/mono101-005.pdf

Also, a lot of shampoos use Parabens and Sulfates, that have been proven to have negative effect on the human body, on the endocrine system or irritative on the skin. The skin being the biggest organ of the human body that helps keep the body hydrated by keeping water in and protecting inner organs by working as a shield from outer stresses.

Paraben is a chemical compound, an ester of parahydroxybenzoic acid. It works as a preservative in lengthening the shelf life of cosmetic products. It is not classified as carcinogenic, since there has been no proof to link the compound to cancer, however, there is proof that parabens have a negative effect on the endocrine system which could lead to effected levels of oestrogen levels in the body, which in turn can lead to infertility and worst case actually be connected to breast cancer. As I said, scary stuff..

Sulfates are salts of sulfuric acids. Salts, acid derivatives and peroxides of sulfates are widely used in industry, in cosmetic products like toothpaste and shampoo but also floor cleaners and car wash soaps for their thickening and lathering effects as detergents and surfactants. SLES (Sodium laureate sulfate) and SDS or NaDs (Sodium dodecyl sulfate) are both anionic surfactants and detergents that are not carcinogenic however are both very irritable and can worsen skin problems. If you have sensitive skin, like me, I wouldn’t recommend using any products with sulfates, or parabens.

As a solution I’d recommend an organic shampoo without parabens and sulfates, or simply make your own with organic castile soap. You can use plain castile soap or mix 1/3 part castile soap with 1/4 part organic coconut milk. Optionally you can add a little of organic vegetable oil, either avocado, almond, olive or similar oil if you have dry hair.

Coconut milk is derived from the flesh of the coconut, that contains high amounts of saturated fats, majority are Lauric acids, that are mainly shorter chains of fatty acids, and acts as anti-carcinogenic, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and also antioxidant against free radicals and their damaging effects. Coconut is great to use against dandruff, as it works as a gentle exfoliating agent and removes dead skin cells. It also helps keep the skin hydrated and moisturised due to high contains of Vitamin E, that promotes hair growth and nourishes the hair.

You can make your own castile soap with olive oil as a base and potassium hydroxide (KOH). Here is a great instruction to how to make it! http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Lye-Free-Liquid-Castile-Soap-from-your-Kitc/

Since your hair can still be dry after the usage of organic and natural shampoos. I’d suggest using something naturally conditioning like Apple cider vinegar to rinse with after. You can make it smell a little better and give extra scent by infusing herbs with your rinse of ACV, water and herbs. It is however very individual how concentrated your rinse need to be and also how often you should rinse your hair after shampooing. I will get back to this tomorrow..

Sorry for no pictures, and a lot of text. I am sure, that if you made it this far.. you found this post interesting enough to keep reading, and got something out of it.

Namaste

Avocado Tree Regrowth

I always wanted an avocado tree.. Now it might take a few years before I can actually harvest avocados from this if at all, as it needs a mate and also I might not live in the same country anymore. But, you can in fact, grow an avocado tree from seed.

Simply put your seed in a jar of water, if the opening is too big for only half on the seed to be submerged then stick in tooth picks on each side (3-4 is enough to hold it in place) and let it sit in a sunny window for a few weeks.

Once the seed has sprouted and shot out roots, you can plant the avocado tree in a pot, and watch it grow 🙂

I never throw away avocado seeds anymore, you never know which of your friends might want an avocado tree! Or if you’ll have a big enough property for all of them to grow! Just put them in water, and let them regrow.

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/Enigma

Spring Time in the Northern Hemisphere

Autumn is here, I now wake up and put on two jumpers, beenie, slippers and long pants. Might be due to no heating in the house, and badly insulated houses in Melbourne.. however, Autumn is here.

Which means, Spring in Europe! Congratulations all hermits, it is time to evolve!

I have not been gardening in Sweden for a few years now, to know how it is to grow vegetables and herbs in Sweden. Knowing though, that you can cheat winter for a few weeks! I will now promote the use of Cold Frames! It seems like a brilliant way to cheat winter!

If you do live in a cold country, where the ground is covered in snow for the most part of the year. You can in face grow vegetables in the cold too. You simply have to take a little time and build protection for your crops.

A cold frame, facing south (if you live in the northern hemisphere) in the most sunny position on your property, can in fact make you grow vegetables in 5-10 degrees celsius. Starting out early spring, while there is still snow on the ground but a few degrees into the growing season, you get a little head start. Saying that, you can start growing your seedlings inside your house weeks before spring, as long as your house is a few degrees warmer than outside! Simply place them in a sunny window.

A cold frame is simply, a raised bed, with a piece of glass or plastic to cover. They can be built from repurposed materials including old windows or glass doors. You can build the raised bed out of hay bales or wood, bricks or whatever you have laying around.

When it gets closer to 10 degrees you should keep the lid on a slight angle of 15cm opening, but if its closer ot 5 degrees then keep it closed. Once the temperature reaches over 10 degrees remove the lid!

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/Enigma

Gardening Therapy

I found myself the best kind of therapy while starting to work on McLeod Eco Farm, a bio-dynamic farm on French Island, Victoria, Australia. Surrounded by nature and covered in dirt, my mind was totally blank. For the first time in my life, apart from when out riding in the forest by myself in Sweden.

Living in Melbourne was a bit of an issue for me at a time of living in a townhouse with a concrete backyard. Later on moving to a house with a garden made all the difference! While studying online from Sweden I was able to take that very important mini break from reading the same line over and over again and go out and garden for a few minutes, and get back to the next line in the study book.

This is what gives me peace of mind.

Rescued Cactus, one single oval was laying on the floor of a park, replanted in my garden, and wow it liked it!

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Another rescue plant was this amazingly beautiful Lily that was dying, replanted when we moved to a new house and it too, loved it and grew massively! Plants are amazing at surviving! They just need a little attention is all.

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I also recued this Pelargonium, that was drying up in a corner, replanted in our garden and gave it back its life.

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I wanted a herb garden, for culinary and medicinal reasons. So I planted some, Sage, Catnip, Parsley, Mint, Oregano and Coriander just outside my kitchen for easy access. Not to mention all the plants inside my kitchen, a sunny window and pots filled with nutritious soil is all you need.

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After getting a greenhouse up and running, we have had a constant supply of greeny leaves and other vegetables.

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The next season instead of spinach and cauliflower etc. we planted tomatoes, chillies and lettuce instead to mix it up and get a variety of crops.

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After the greenhouse was sorted I started building raised beds in the front garden too, where the rabbits and chickens wouldn’t reach so no chicken wire required!

With wood found around the property, and soil from the piles at the back of house with some added compost, mulch and worm juice.
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Lots of beetroots, silver beet, parsley, tomatoes and pumpkins. First I planted brussel sprouts, as these gets eaten by any insects first, and the rest gets left alone (is the trick, that worked for this part at least).

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And of course Calendula flowers for healing ointments.

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I am

I am a nurturer, who believes in Mother Earths way of caring for all creatures and living organisms on this planet. I learn from her and practice her wisdom. I always believed that all people have their own special skills, and that we must follow our hearts and our passions to find them.

I started working in age care when I was 18 years old, and that was when I finally started finding myself, after many years of confusion and seeking. That was when I found out my own special skills. To care for others, to nurture and to heal.

My own healing took a few more years, and will take many more years to come, but to heal myself has been the biggest adventure of them all. Because of what I find, deep inside, that I had no idea about.. Is what makes me me. I’ve learnt that past lives can give us both grief and weaknesses to overcome but also strength and wisdom.

Seeing myself as what I am today in past lives simply insured me of my path. The natural way of healing, is through what Mother Earth is offering us through her own womb and to listen to your own intuition, seek deep within and follow your heart.

I put a lot of importance to my dreams, and I have a routine of writing them down as often as I remember them. Our unconscious is our higher selfs, communication is often abstract but if you learn to listen. It is very simple.

I chose my path of a natural life, and am every day strengthening my power to avoid all things that would hurt myself, others or this planet. In this lifetime, I have found it really hard to cope with how mankind has decided to live, how humanity treat each other and other beings on this planet Earth. I still find it hard to deal with, but I am practising my very best patience to still stand up straight, and still put up a fight.

There is a saying that the most quiet people have the loudest minds.

This is very true, however, when you learn to quiet your mind, and listen to the world and not your own voice. You become attuned. Being attuned to your surroundings and the energy that penetrates your very own body and aura is very important. This is why I tend to seek to nature, when in heavy crowds, I tend to be drawn to the nearest tree. As, the energy from nature automatically makes my mind serene, quiet and content.

I do not know how long I can stay living in such a heavy crowded city. I do know, that for every day I learn more and more, and I get stronger and stronger by having to push away all negativity and pollution. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

That goes without saying, I am longing for the day when I can follow my dream, build my farm, home, guest house and natural health space, where I can live, breathe, nurture, learn and teach.

For now. All I can do is learn, study and build with what I have.

This morning I felt very inspired, almost poetic. And words started falling out of my mind. The simplest way of silencing the mind, is to release. So here I am, writing. And not in my private journal, but on this page I created, to express, expand and create.

This is me, this is why I am here, and this is what I do.

Much love, from Josefine

Naturally Enigmas Adornments

I always had a liking of gemstones and rocks.. since I was a kid, when I’d be looking for “gold” up in the streams in the Feldberg Mountain in Schwarzwald or Black Forest in Germany where my dad would take me and my siblings.

Eventually I found a liking for crystals, of any shape and form. Not necessarily diamonds and expensive and rare minerals, but mainly those you simply come across in nature, I have never been much for mining and digging up Mother Earths gems, but once in a blue moon I come across a naturally shaped crystal. I found one in Northern Territory in Australia, in the desert, I saw this tiny little transparent natural point crystal. I still don’t know how I managed to see it. While driving to Ayers Rock or Uluru we went past Coopers Pedy in South Australia, a mining town for Opal, and in a little pile of dirt we found a small opal. In Queensland while doing a several kilometers long waterfall walk we came across obsidian, which is naturally occurring volcanic glass formed when melted lava extruded from a volcano cools quickly.

They radiate such amazing beauty, so me starting to create jewellery with gemstones and crystals just came naturally.

After about a year since I started I have come to the stage I said one year ago I’d be, I wanted to create jewellery that would mean something, that would be loved and love in return. I decided very early so stick to natural materials and not use any plastic, but mainly hemp, cotton, crystals, gemstones, wood and metals.

As I’m working towards opening a stall at festivals I have been in production mode since my studies finished in December. Being creative brings out the best in me and I am very excited for this new project.

Naturally Enigma Adornments

Necklaces, Bracelets, Earrings, Headbands, Pens, Body Butters and Ointments

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Macrame Necklaces

Macrame Bracelets and Feather Earrings

This is some of my favourite pieces I have made so far, unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of some before I gave them away but am sure I’ll get the chance to document them another time.

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Healing Calendula

It is worth a second post, as this plant, this flower is one of my favourites.
Both as decorative yellow-orange flowers, in sallads and as healing ointment or balm.

Dried Calendula flowers, ready to be separated and oil infused.

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20150225_121548The flower petals gets pulled off the flower head and put in a jar, which is then filled up with oil. You can use a variety of oils, I prefer olive, grape seed or sunflower oil.

The infusion is then left to sit in a sunny window for about three weeks for the oil to extract the healing properties of the flower petals. After three weeks you have Calendula oil ready for use.

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Nepeta Cataria aka Catnip

New found liking, Catnip.

Easy to grow, pretty white flowers with pale purple to pink hints.
Culinary as well as medicinal perennial herb.
Family of Lamiaceae, like mint, sage, oregano etc.

Catnip is a natural repellant for certain insects, aphids for one.
It also attracts beneficial insects like lacewings.

The leaves and the flowers can be brewed into a tea, as Catnip have sedative effects on humans (in opposition of the effect it has on cats) it is good as an evening tea to treat insomnia or simply to calm nerves.

It is also known to settle upset stomaches and headaches. With its natural healing properties the leaves can also be used to treat cuts, simply pick a leaf, crush it and damp it and apply to the cut.

For tea, use 1-2 teaspoons of dried catnip or a little bit more of fresh leaves and flowers in a cup of hot water (not boiling).
Infuse for about ten minutes or until preferred strength. For optional flavouring, add honey or lemon.

As mentioned it is also a culinary herb and widely used in cooking and in salads for its aromatic properties.

Like many other herbs and plants, Catnip is anaesthetic, antibiotic, anti-rheumatic and diuretic just to mention a few properties.

Freshly harvested, and still looking gorgeous

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Harvested catnip ready to dry out

When harvesting herbs, its important not to take too much, but to leave some of the plant for more to grow, as it will keep growing.. and growing..

Cut around 10-15 cm with stem and all and hang upside down with flowers pointing down for best result.

The herb is most potent when flowers blossom to harvest just shortly after they start blossoming. But leaves can be taken now and then throughout the whole season for use.

Once cut (over a new set of leaves that will continue to grow) hang in a dry, cool and dark place to dry completely to avoid the catnip of getting moldy.

Store in an airtight plastic container or bag, in a dry and dark place,

Dried catnip keeps good for months after being dried but it loses potency in medicinal properties after time, so better use quickly and just simply harvest more in a while. It does grow really easy in a well drained spot with moderate sunlight.

One more favourite herb to place on the herb shelf, and in the garden.. Smell delightful too!

/Enigma