Teacher’s Secret Weapon Against Cold and Flu Symptoms.


I love researching herbs and natural remedies. I have been in love with Elderberries for the past two winters. They have gotten my family and I through countless colds, and I am pretty sure I had the flu once last year. Now, I say pretty sure because I had just started working at my local elementary school as a teacher’s assistant. I had never had such a severe cold. I had already been taking elderberry syrup daily and I am sure that if I hadn’t been taking it, I would have been out for the count. Body aches, cough, sinus pressure, runny nose, you name it, I felt it. I remember laying in bed one morning during my second week of school. I was miserable. My husband said “Are you going to work today?” I whispered through the phlegm “I don’t know”. He laughed “You haven’t worked in years and you can’t handle two weeks. hahahaha”. Well, of course I went to work just to prove him wrong! Thanks for the motivation, Honey. I give credit to Elderberries for making it happen.

The teachers had warned me that I would be sick for “like the first two years” of teaching but they also reassured me that after that my immune system would be “amazing”. Sure enough, I have had some kind of sickness almost every month I have worked at the school. My most recent sickness has lasted about 3 weeks. It started as an allergic reaction to an air freshener in the school but that quickly turned into a sinus infection and an upper respiratory infection.

I’ll admit, I don’t take elderberry syrup during the “healthy” months (summer break) and I hadn’t been taking it when I became ill this last time. That’s when you start having issues; when you hang out with masses of people, especially kids, and you aren’t faithful to The Elderberries. It never fails. But of course I keep doing it.

So, once I was desperate, I ordered a bulk order of Elderberries. And I cried to Mother Nature “I will not betray you again!”.

The problem I have with Elderberry Syrup is that you have to keep it refrigerated. That sounds silly, but when you are working with kids, you don’t have time to go to the bathroom, let alone, run to the break room and take a dose of ES. So, sure, I could carry my ES in my lunch bag but believe me, the looks and questions you get from the kids when you take a dose of ES, is enough to make you not want to do it, but the stories you imagine the kids telling their parents will make you sweat.

I came up with a solution, Elderberry Tea. I can make a cup of tea in my travel mug before I leave for school, and I can make a cup of tea during my lunch break.

I started by using the same ingredients in my Elderberry Syrup Kit but I realized that the Elderberry dosage was wrong when comparing full strength berries and diluted syrup.

I created a great concoction that I call Immuniberry , it includes the proper berry dosage combined with a wonderful Echinacea root blend. I tell you what, I had my first cup last night and I felt better this morning than I have the past two weeks.

I am so excited about this tea. It is easy for me to take on the go. I can also toss a bag in a bottle of water as a cold tea during the summer months. I promised Mother Nature I would never betray her again, and now I have no excuse to not keep that promise.

Here is a fantastic article about why Elderberries are so fantastic. As always, do your own research and find the best solution for yourself.

Easy Crock Pot Lasagna

Yes! Its true! You can make lasagna in a Crock Pot! I think it tastes even better than cooking it in the oven! It may not be as pretty as traditional lasagna but the benefits out way that one negative.


Here’s what you need:
Lasagna noodles
Sausage (optional), cooked
Ricotta cheese (16oz)
1 egg (optional, used to firm up the ricotta)
1 jar of pasta sauce
Mozzarella cheese , shredded


Here’s how to do it:
Mix egg into ricotta (optional).
Start with a thin layer of pasta sauce in the bottom of your crock pot. You just need to cover the bottom so the noodles won’t stick.
Break your noodles to fit inside the crock pot. It doesn’t have to be pretty.


Now add a layer of ricotta on top of the noodles.


Then a layer of sausage.


Then a layer of pasta sauce.


Start a new layer of noodles and repeat the layering process.
End with a layer of pasta sauce.
Cook on low for 3-4 hours.
Turn off Crock Pot.
Sprinkle shredded mozzarella to the top of the lasagna.
Replace lid.
Once cheese has melted it is ready to serve.

Its so easy, really. You can modify it however you like; add veggies, cottage cheese, or make it meatless. It really is so versatile. Just try to keep the addition of moisture low. If you are adding something moist like veggies, I would add the optional egg to the ricotta. You could even add 2 eggs if you like a nice thick lasagna.


Easy Elderberry Syrup

Elderberries are one of mother natures strongest immunity boosters. They are extremely high in vitamin C and believed to help prevent or treat the flu.
You can purchase commercially made elderberry syrup at most health food stores or HERE (affiliate link).
Or for a fraction of the price you can make it yourself with one of the kits sold in my store: https://www.etsy.com/your/shops/RusticityGoods/tools/listings/255013923
Here’s how:

Ingredients: (all links are affiliates)
Water 3.5 cups
Elderberries 2/3 cup
Ginger Root 2 Tblspn
Cinnamon 1 teaspoon
Cloves 1/2 tspn
Lemon slices (3) optional
Honey  1 cup (BUY LOCAL!!!)

Add water, elderberries, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and lemon slices to a pot. Do not add honey yet. Do not cover the pot. Bring to a boil then reduce to a low simmer. Stir occasionally and leave to simmer for about an hour or so. You want the liquid to reduce to about half.


Once its reduced, turn off the stove and allow the liquid to cool.
Remove the lemon slices.

IMG_20141004_090102371 IMG_20141004_090128175
Drape a clean cloth over a bowl and pour the contents of the pot into the cloth. Allow it to drain.

Pull the cloth closed then squeeze the remaining juice from the cloth, into the bowl.

Compost the contents of the cloth, or feed it to your chickens.
Add 1 cup of Honey to the liquid. Stir until honey has dissolved and mixed well.
Ta-da! You now have elderberry syrup!
Pour into a glass container. Keep refrigerated.

Adults 1 teaspoon daily.
Children 1/2 teaspoon daily.
Flu/cold treatment:
Adults 1 teaspoon every 4 hours.
Children 1/2 teaspoon every 4 hours.

*This post was submitted in the Wild Crafting Wednesday Blog Hop. Check it out!

Power Tools for Women. Review; Ryobi Tool Set.


I am a handy woman but I wasn’t always.

I remember the first time I needed a piece of wood cut but my husband wasn’t home to do it for me. Then I thought to myself “my husband isn’t here to do it for me?!!! Why can he do it but I can’t?!!!”

So I went into the garage and looked around for what I thought was the tool I needed for the job.

It was electric.

Plug it in.

Draw line on wood where I want it cut.

Hold it steady.

Pull the trigger.

Wow! It cut the wood! Oh my gosh I cut the wood!

I was cutting all sorts of things after that. Its so funny, one minute of teaching myself how to use a “man’s” tool opened up my whole world.

My husband sure does regret not being home that day because he hasn’t had his tools to himself since! HAHAHA

Since then I have evolved a little. I started with some no name brand jig saw to a circular saw. I think the circular saw is my tool of choice for pretty much anything that needs cutting. Also the only tool I have right now for carpentry projects that I would like to look somewhat decent. I have plans to get a chop saw sometime soon hopefully. For now I will do what I can with what I have (and I actually love this circular saw too!)

At our homestead we have the Ryobi 18 volt circular saw.

Its fairly light weight which is great for me since I don’t have very strong wrists. Its very easy to use and understand. It cuts nicely and has multiple safety feature so you don’t accidentally cut your fingers (or toes) off.

We have this circular saw as part of a 5 Piece tool set. You can find it at Home Depot or HERE. We’ve had the set for at least 3 years now and it still works like new. The batteries hold their charge like they are new. I’m very happy with the quality of this tool set.

This circular saw has been my go to tool and I highly recommend it for women for its light weight and ease of use.

I also love the sawzall (reciprocating saw). It has come in handy for all those odd jobs and its great for yard work too. Again, a simple design that is easy to use and is light weight.

The drill is great. But I will say that it feels a little heavy for me, but its manageable. There are smaller drills available on the market but if you want a drill that has a decent amount of power, you aren’t going to find one lighter than this. Again, simple design and easy to use. I can’t complain.

I have never used the impact drill. I haven’t had a need for it. But my husband has used to and it worked. We still have it. That’s all I can tell you about that. You can find sets with out the impact drill at Home Depot or HERE.

Over all, this is one of the best investments that we have made as far as machinery is concerned.  Both my husband and I used it almost daily. WE have definitely gotten our money out of this set.

The Missing Piece of My Heart

I haven’t written a blog post since “Bonnie is in Puppy Heaven“. I have been dealing with losing her along with all of the other things that are necessary to maintain a family and home.

I have a few things that I am working on and I will write posts about those, but some things have been bothering me since we lost Bonnie and essentially, these things are giving me writers block.

I want to bring something to light, that I have the feeling most people feel but they won’t discuss. Some people might take this post the wrong way and be offended by it. But I know that some folks will appreciate me speaking my true feelings.

My dog died. Seems simple enough. Its “just a dog”, right?

The day after Bonnie died, I spent the day crying uncontrollably. Its only to be expected. I didn’t get much done that day. I wrote “Bonnie is in puppy Heaven”  and I took my daughters to the skating rink to try to get their minds off of it. All I could do was cry. I was in public crying. Driving and crying. Doing the dishes and crying. Showering and Crying. Lying in bed Crying. I could see it on my kids faces. The deep sadness sitting just below the surface. We all tried to keep it together but inevitably, we cried.

Things “got better” as the days went on. Basically, I got used to my dog not being there. But things never really “got better”. The heavy sadness still sits on my heart. I still see and feel my fingers gliding over her fur and tracing her wrinkles as I said good bye to her for the last time. In an instant things are not “better”.

At first it felt like she just wasn’t home at the moment. I kept expecting her to come back home. Like she was on some vacation or at the vet or visiting grandma….I don’t know, just “not home”. Then my brain would tell me “no, shes over there, rotting in the ground”. Yes, I know that’s terrible, but that’s what my brain told me. And it made me mad. Did I bury her properly? Did she deserve something better? Should I have cremated her? How could I just let her rot like that? These were the thoughts that went through my head.

I was almost ashamed that we buried her. But then I realized something. She was not her body.  And her body was becoming a part of our property. It made me love my property more because I knew that her body was a part of it.

I have always heard that when you lose someone you love they never really leave you. You’ve heard it too, I’m sure. All those emotional sappy romantic ideas of someones love staying in your heart and you’ll always feel them in your heart because once you love someone they become a part of you..blah blah blah. Yada yada yada..WHATEVER! When you lose someone you love, they are gone physically and all of that “always in your heart” idea is bullshit. They are gone, and no romantic idea can take away the hurt you feel when you can’t find that missing part of your life.

As the days went on, I began to feel foolish. She was “just a dog”. I began to feel like people were thinking the same thing “why haven’t you gotten over this yet, it was just a dog”.

The truth is, she was not just a dog. She was my partner. EVERY DAY. FOR ELEVEN YEARS. She relied on me, and I relied on her. She was my responsibility and I was hers. I had to feed her and care for her, every day. And she had to show me how much she loved me and follow me around to make sure I was safe, every day. I have spent more time with her than I have with my own children and my husband. She was always there. ALWAYS. I’m not speaking metaphorically. She was literally ALWAYS there. Even if I wasn’t physically with her, she was at home thinking of me and wondering when I would come back to her so she could watch over me again, and wag her tail and show me she loved me. ALWAYS.

I realized that even after death she was still with me. In my mind. In my memories. Those memories will never leave me. Even if I wanted them to. She would always be there, just like when she was alive. I know, I’m contradicting what I said. But not really. Her memory is in my head and it makes my heart ache for that piece it lost when she died. Does that make sense? I don’t carry her in my heart. I carry her in my head and my heart hurts for her. There is no romance in that.

It has been exactly one month since Bonnie died. I still cry, pretty much daily. But now its a sudden bust of sadness that comes unexpectedly. From nowhere a moan will come from me and I will weep, for no reason at all. And it leaves as quickly as it came. I don’t know why. Nothing triggers it,  but everything triggers it. The memory of her intertwines with whatever it is I’m doing at the moment and reminds me of my aching heart.

I know that Bonnie was “just a dog”. An animal. My brain knows that. But my brain is the one that keeps reminding my heart of its loss. Logic is causing my sadness. So, I stopped feeling foolish for my sadness. And I don’t care if people think I should “be over it”. And she was not “just a dog”.

I know that one day I won’t cry from the hurt of the missing piece of my heart. My heart will learn to function without that part. But I will never view Bonnie as “just a dog” and my loss is real. Please don’t ever think any less of it. Please don’t ever think that there is a loss that is worse than mine that I could compare it to. I know there are terrible tragedies that would hurt far more than losing a dog, but non the less, losing any size piece of your heart is an important loss and it is painful.

She will be waiting for me in the meadow, along with the other pieces of my heart that are missing. And I will be whole again. I know this is true because both my heart and my brain tell me it is.

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How to Freeze Figs

What you need:
Wax or parchment paper
Cookie sheet
Cutting board
Sharp knife
Freezer bags

How to:
Place sheet of wax paper on cookie sheet.
Rinse figs.


Cut stem from fig.


Set figs, cut side down, onto wax paper covered cookie sheet.


Sit the cookie sheet in the freezer so its level.


Allow to freeze for at least 2 hours. The figs should be rock hard.
Once frozen,
Remove figs from wax paper and store in freezer bags.


How to water bath can in your soup pot!


I am always amazed how many times I hear that someone doesn’t want to make homemade jams/jellies because they don’t have a water bath canner.
Here’s how you can in your soup pot!
Please read all directions before starting this adventure.
Always follow the recipe you are water bath canning. Always.
I answer questions pretty quickly! If you have a question, put it in a comment and I will get with you ASAP.

What you need:
Large soup pot
Jars, lids and rings
Additional rings
Lid wand
Jar lifter

Set rings in bottom of your soup pot.
You can use a combination of sizes. Try to get a tight fit.


Put jars in pot. Fill pot with water.


Cover jars with at least 1″ of water.
Add lids to pot of water. I like to stick them standing up, between the jars.

Bring the water to a boil.
Add any utensils that will be touching your jam/jelly.
Set timer for 10 minutes.

Hopefully you’ve been working on your jam while the jars are being sterilized!


Remove jars from the pot once they have been in there for 10 minutes. Leave the lids and utensils.


Fill the sterilized jars with your delicious jam.
Wipe rip of jars clean.
Remove the sterilized lids from the boiling water, one at a time, with your lid wand.


Place sterilized lid onto the jar.
Place ring over lid.
Screw down ring until finger tight. You may need to use a towel to hold the jars while tightening the rings. The jars are hot! They are filled with boiling jam after all!


Once all your jars are filled, use your jar lifter to place them back into the boiling water in the soup pot.


Bring the water to a boil.
Set timer for 10 minutes.
Once 10 minutes have passed, remove the jars with the jar lifter, and set them on a towel spread on your counter.


Leave the jars undisturbed until cool. I leave mine to sit over night.
You will hear the lids “ping!” as they seal (one of my favorite sounds!).
The next day, check your seals by removing the rings and gently pushing back and forth with your fingers. The “button” on the center of the lid will be concaved inward if sealed.
If the lid moves at all or you can push the “button” inward, the jar did not seal. Put that jar in the fridge for immediate use.


This is also a good time to use a moist wash rag to wipe around the rim of the jar where the ring sits, and the rest of the jar as well. Sometimes the contents of the jar seep out when sealing.

Yay! You water bath canned!