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What makes us buy so many things we can make easily?

Healing calendula herb infused olive oil in a mason jar

One of my professors told me that when he was a little kid in Pakistan, his mother would grab the olive oil out of the pantry, rub it on his dry skin and send him off to play.

That makes complete sense. Olive oil works well on dry skin, even the cheapest olive oil. Actually, cheap oil would be better because the scent is weaker and won’t leave you smelling like a pressed olive. What does a teaspoon of cheap olive oil cost? So little I can’t do the math in my head. You probably already have it in your pantry, too.

Olive oil as a body lotion:
1) works great
2) convenient
3) inexpensive

And yet, like me, you probably also have a bunch of store-bought moisturizers scattered around your house, car and office. If you’re anything like me, you might pull out your winter coat this year and find hand cream you put in the pocket a year ago. I have so many hand creams, I lose them.

I do buy lots of natural skincare products…and pay through the nose for them. When my kids were born, I spent $20 on a bottle of all-natural baby lotion. It was a pretty big bottle but still. After every bath, I would take a couple of squirts of some insanely expensive tangerine and calendula baby lotion and give the kids a little baby massage before bedtime.

In case it sounded like I was exaggerating about the price…

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Lovely stuff, but really pricey.

Here’s a jar of calendula-infused olive oil I made myself for about a penny. All it took was time because I grew the calendula flowers in my organic garden, but at least I know what’s in the oil.

Healing calendula herb infused olive oil in a mason jar

US consumer spending

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the broadest measure of economic activity. In 2017, real GDP in the US increased by 2.2%; of that, 1.7% came from growth in consumer spending (source: US Bureau of Economic Analysis). In other words, people in the US buy a ton of stuff. Buying all that stuff, even if we don’t need it or just because the ad looked good, is like espresso to our economy.

Two main reasons we buy stuff we should make:
1) We didn’t realize we could
2) The ad looked good.

1) We didn’t realize we could

Until someone stumbles across a blog like mine or gets a friend like me to open up to them, it probably won’t occur to him or her to look around the kitchen or garden or farm stand before going to the convenience store. Plus, you know where the convenience store is. Until a few months ago, you probably didn’t know where this blog was.

Most people would be really confused to get a Secret Santa gift basket labeled, “Experience Spa-like Pampering”, and it’s a bottle of olive oil, a bag of cheap sugar and some vanilla. Are you going to bake me? How is this a spa experience?

Then, you read the Directions, “mix thoroughly and shower together”. Now, that’s really confusing. That’s like stunned-into-silence confusing. (Unless you spend a lot of time on Pintrest, in which case, you immediately envisioned a clear glass jar tied with twine and a little cardboard tag that read “DIY Sugar Scrub”.)

In just a few short generations, modern cultures forgot the uses for common herbs and oils. I did, too. It’s been 20 years of part-time study to learn the stuff I write about in this blog, and I will continue learning as long as I’m able.

What’s worse? We use some really gross stuff because we don’t know much about it. None of this was not covered in eighth grade science. You really don’t want to rub synthetic hormone disruptors on your bare hands. Oh but you have, me too. There are usually several of them in inexpensive lotions to extend the shelf-life (many are banned or restricted in the EU) so you can, I don’t know…find a hand cream in your coat pocket a year later, and it still looks the same.

2) The ad looked good

And here’s why we forgot about all this useful stuff. Marketing.

Most of the time, I think marketing is amazing and powerful. Who am I kidding? Without marketing, there would be zero eyeballs on this blog.

It can get out of hand though. Like anything, as a project explodes and makes big time money (i.e. economic profit), more people are attracted to it. The more competition there is, the more humans will feel pressure to compete, including stretching the truth and cutting costs.

There are only two ways to be successful as a business:
1) differentiate your product
2) compete on cost

I’m going to lump, “someone told me it was amazing” into this category. The ad got them to buy it; therefore, indirectly the ad got you to buy it, too.

Once you’ve used it, if there’s no immediate and obvious negative reaction. You assume it’s fine to keep using. It’s not your fault, you have no way of knowing what’s in that stuff. I’ve done the same thing so many times

How does this relate to farmstand culture?

My hope with this blog is to fill you in on all of these simple, quick tricks I’ve learned to make natural living easier. It is exactly what I do for free for all of my friends.

DIY dry shampoo for brown or auburn hair
DIY dry shampoo for blonde hair
Natural skin and hair care

As you keep up with this blog, you will find more uses and benefits for oils, spices and herbs you probably already have in your pantry or…the ones you can find at the end of your neighbor’s driveway available at a quaint, rustic farm stand.

Anyway, it’s Cyber Monday. Go have a guilt-free blast spending within your means.

Here’s a quick link back to a marketing machine, in case you wanted to see those principles of effective marketing in action.  The only thing I’ve done differently here, is highlighted their handcrafted marketplace, which features small batch crafters:

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Weeding is winning (follow up to “Do you meditate? Not exactly.”)

You might think I am about to tell you just to redefine weeding in your mind, and it will take the work out of it. I’m not.

Weeding is hard.

It’s hard for me. It’s hard for you. It’s hard for professional landscapers and farmers. People have been murdered over weeds. Weeding is reality, and it can get overwhelming quickly.

borage weeding

But for the everyday gardener, reframing weeding as winning is really about the habits successful people develop.

One of my coworkers went through a phase where he listened to a lot of podcasts about successful people and what a typical day was like for them. He asked me a question I have heard before, “Do you meditate?” I told him I don’t.

He thought for a second then asked me how I start my day.

I get my tea, round up the kids and go to the garden. He asked what I do in the garden. Pull weeds, mostly. HA! That’s it. He said successful people start their day with a “win”.

Weeding is my win.

I really appreciate someone pointing that out to me. It inspires me to share that thought with you. Oh and true confessions, I haven’t always been perfect, but I pretty much crave going to the garden to pull at least one little weed or straighten up one tilting plant every day.

My actual win today is clipping all of my chives before they go to seed. It took about five minutes. I learned my lesson with this one last year.


It makes me curious. If you think about your morning, do you start your day with a win? What is your win? PG-rated, of course.


“Weeding is winning” is a follow-up to “Do you meditate? Not exactly.”

Let me know what you think.

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42 (and a half) uses for extra herbs

When you garden, you quickly find out that your supply of herbs can overwhelm your needs. Herbs get too woody or too pungent quickly. It is best to harvest them when they are ready, even if you are not. Often, you will still have time left in the season to plant a second or third crop in their place. Of course, harvesting all of those herbs at once means you need some ideas about what to do with them. Leave your ideas in the comment section!

Sell them (or just offer them for free)

1. Farm stand

Eat them

2. Herb salad
3. Ice cream (mint or sweet basil)
4. Herbed butters
5. Throw them over anything you’re baking
6. Mix chopped herbs with ground meat for burgers
7. Salad dressing
8. Herb soups
9. Herb-infused oils
10. Herb-rolled frittata
11. Herbed cheeses
12. Herbed spreads
13. Chicken rubs
14. Pickling brine
15. Pesto blend
16. Pasta sauce
17. Salsas
18. Stir-fries
19. Marinades
20. Herbed breads

Drink them

21. Flavor homebrew beer or wine
22. Fancy cocktails
23. Whiskey on ice with herbs
24. Vodka infusions
25. Brew teas – fresh or dried

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Prep them

26. Hang them to dry
27. Freeze them in plastic bags
28. Freeze them into ice cubes
29. Keep parsley and cilantro fresh longer in the fridge with a paper towel
30. Keep basil fresh longer by coating it in olive oil
31. Grind them up to make a dry powder


32. Garnish your other dishes
33. Flower arrangements
34. Table setting accents
35. Decorate gifts
36. Add pressed herbs to cards
37. Make shadow box displays

Handcrafted skincare

38. Make a gentle, exfoliating face scrub
39. Add them to homemade soaps
40. Herb-infused tinctures

When even the best intensions fail

41. Compost them
42. Let them go to seed – who says you have to pick your extra herbs? Let a few plants go to seed. THEN, you actually should make a decision.

42 1/2.  Choice #1: let them over-winter. Choosing option 1 means you will likely have a hundred baby plants to incorporate or weed next year. In the case of my parsley plant, I was happy to give its descendants one-third of this bed. Perfect!  In the case of my chives, I knew I should have picked every one of those mesmerizing white flowers last year, but instead, we have a blanket of pointy seedlings to pluck.

Choice #2: separate and save the seeds. For most herbs, you can hang the old, brown stalks upside down in a brown paper bag until they are very dry. Then you can shake them until the seeds collect in the bag. They must be stored dry in jars with lids or little baggies. Do yourself a favor and label them well. You can share extra seeds with your friends or coworkers. You can even offer them for sale at your farm stand.

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Have another idea on how to use extra herbs? Please leave a comment below.

borage napkin

Tired of the obvious? Check out some forgotten herbs.

Want to see some of the best other farm stands have to offer? View top choices at farmstand5.