The Unplugged Family Activity Book

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If you’ve been around here a while, you know my passion for putting down my laptop and phone, pulling on my boots, and getting out there with my kids–no matter the season.

SINCE THEY WERE SMALL, WE’VE TAKEN ANY EXCUSE WE COULD FIND TO TOSS THE TO-DO LIST ASIDE AND DIVE HEADLONG INTO SEASONAL PROJECTS, RECIPES, AND CELEBRATIONS (BOTH WHEN WE LIVED IN TOWN AND HERE ON THE FARM).

To immerse ourselves in nature and the magic that exists when we unplug and connect with each other and the seasons, all through the year. From boisterous summer adventures to quiet winter celebrations, nature–and time together enjoying it–offers us so much.

BECAUSE THIS IS WHERE THE MEMORIES HAPPEN.

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So when Herbal Adventures was finally out in the world and my editor came to me to ask if I was willing to write a second book, I jumped at the chance.

AND I KNEW EXACTLY THE BOOK THAT I WANTED TO SHARE.

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In my heart for more than a decade had been a book that was begging to be written: a book of joyful, creative, seasonal activities for kids and their families to enjoy together, no matter where they call home.

With projects that are simple, accessible, sustainable, and fun (and best of all, almost always made with supplies you already have on hand). Projects that are as fun in the city as they are in the country; when done alone, as a family, or with a gaggle of friends.

A book that helps you find meaningful ways to celebrate of seasons, no matter what else your family holds dear.

AND SO A NEW BOOK WAS BORN. THE UNPLUGGED FAMILY ACTIVITY BOOK.

Because there is such fun to be discovered when we put away our devices for an hour, a day, or even longer. And wherever you are is the just right place to start.

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Within these pages, I invite you and your loved ones to connect, create, and play all year long. There’s no right or wrong way to unplug–all we have to do is begin. And with simple projects, delicious recipes, and joyful celebrations, you’ll find that more fun awaits than you ever imagined–all through the year.

With more than 50 projects, crafts, and recipes, plus ideas for gatherings to share with family and friends, there are adventures to be had in every season.

Host a springtime tea party, where you’ll nibble shortbread cookies and craft a mossy fairy garden in a teacup.

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Or gather with friends for a summer potluck party. Blow giant bubbles,  race leaf-and-bark boats, or camp out in your own backyard.

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In the fall, enjoy a harvest party with your friends. Create a fall leaf rainbow, sip mulled cider, and bake bread over a campfire.

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When winter comes, celebrate the longest night of the year with twinkling ice lanterns. Try your hand at candle dipping, make your own play dough, and pen your wishes for the coming year.

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The Unplugged Family Activity Book includes ideas for four seasonal celebrations to enjoy with family and friends, plus instruction and recipes for:

  • Candied violets
  • Herbal first aid balm
  • Rose petal tea
  • Teacup fairy gardens
  • Infused honey
  • Homemade ice cream
  • Summer flower buntings
  • Giant bubbles
  • Homemade dragonfly wings
  • Mulled cider
  • Felted acorn necklaces
  • Autumn gratitude tree
  • Decorative lanterns
  • Baked apples
  • Winter stargazing
  • Maple lollipops
  • A giant snow fort
  • Dried citrus garland
  • Plus dozens more crafts, projects, and recipes!

In The Unplugged Family Activity Book you’ll fall in love with every season–wherever you call home. So grab your family and friends, and get ready for an unplugged adventure that will last all through the year.

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Best of all, The Unplugged Family Activity Book is already available for pre-order! (Release date scheduled for the Summer Solstice, June 2020.) For those looking for independent booksellers who will be offering my book, look no further than the links below, or request that your favorite indie book shop carries it come June.

Bookshop.org

Indie Bound

BAM! Books-a-Million

Friends in the UK, Canada, and Australia, you find links to retailers in your region here.

Or add your name to the email sign-up form below, then I’ll be sure to drop you a note when my new book is released.

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And finally, A huge thank you to everyone who has encouraged me to keep writing by reading my words here, purchasing copies of Herbal Adventures, and dropping sweet notes in my inbox through the years.

I WOULDN’T BE HERE NOW IF IT WEREN’T FOR YOUR UNFLAGGING ENCOURAGEMENT AND ENTHUSIASM. I MEAN THAT WITH MY EVERYTHING.

P.S. In other news, Herbal Adventures has been translated to French, and is coming out later this month! You can find the French translation here and a link to both (all three?) of my books here. The fun never ends! 

Leave a comment below telling me what you think about this upcoming book. Are you on a mission to unplug with your family just a little more? Share your thoughts below. I’d love to hear about your journey. 

Love,
Rachel

 

Dreaming of hydrosols

I’ve dreamt for years of setting up a witchy little corner of our farm; a place to bring home baskets of foraged or grown wild and tame herbs and distill them into magical, fragrant hydrosols.

But the dream always felt so far beyond my skill set, my knowledge, or my comfort zone. There was so much to learn! And other things on my to-do list.

After wild rose season came and went a few years ago, I couldn’t stop thinking of the delight I would feel in distilling foraged roses into a hydrating, rose-infused hydrosol. First just for our family and friends, but eventually for LüSa Organics.

So I plucked up my courage a couple of years back and purchased a handmade Portuguese still, the gold-standard (or copper, if you will), of small-scale distillation.

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My still arrived after rose season had ended, and last year I was traveling when the roses were in bloom. Two seasons I had missed since my rose hydrosol dreams began! This winter I decided that when the snow melted and spring began to unfurl, I would set down my books, and set up my still. It was time to learn how to use it, at last.

With this in mind, I spent Sunday out in the orchard doing a still cleaning and set-up run of my beautiful still. Not distilling plants this time, but preparing my equipment (and learning the basics) of how to distill herbs when their seasons come. A practice run, if you will, using rye flour.

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Like distilling hydrosols, the still set-up run is an all-day affair.

After washing the still and setting up the necessary equipment, the still body is filled with a measured mixture of organic rye flour and freshly drawn water.

I was lucky enough to have a helper who was as captivated as I with the setup process. (“This feels so witchy, mama!” she said, stirring the pot with a large wooden spoon, under a watchful feline gaze). And it was. In all the right ways.

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After the rye is stirred, the still is tightly closed, and all seams are sealed with hand-formed coils of rye flour dough. These snakes of dough are packed into spaces where steam may otherwise escape during distillation.

Why rye flour? Rye is traditional, and it’s zero-waste. Teflon plumbing tape is a modern alternative, but I love the idea of my distillation process being as low-waste as possible and scraping off and composting the rye seals after every use feels leagues better than stripping off the plastic tape and throwing it in the trash.

It’s a matter of personal preference, of course.

Yes, Teflon tape is quicker and easier to set up, but the rubbish it generates will be on the planet forever. but the less trash I can generate with this process, the better, I say. So traditional rye flour it is.

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The fire is then lit under the still (I use propane, since wood fire is difficult to regulate and makes a mess of the still), and the waiting begins! Eventually, the mash simmers, and as it does, the steam rises up the column and down the curving copper coil, where it is condensed back into a liquid (and is cooled through the spiraling condenser coil) before dribbling into a collection jar.

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Since this was simply a cleaning run, there was no need to set up a sterilized catchment system, but future batches will require a sterilized, sealed catchment jar for capturing the resulting hydrosol.

The process was involved and complex, but deeply satisfying.

It was the first thing I thought about at waking this morning, and as I glanced over our valley my eyes scanned the hillside for plants I might distill.

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Nettle leaf hydrosol for scalp and hair? Violet for moisturized skin? Chickweed and plantain for our first aid kit? There are so many options, and I can hardly wait to begin. It won’t be long before lemon balm, mint, and other herbs are up and ready for distillation as well.

And finally, come June, it will be rose season.

I can hardly wait!

Do you use hydrosols for face or skin care or general wellness? What are your favorite hydrosol plants? 

 

Free resources for families

20190518-_RJW0250How are you holding up, friend? What a strange season we’re all adrift in. Separate, yet together. I’ve been quiet here on the Happy Healthy Family Blog, but so busy over on my personal blog!

I’ve been busy sharing thoughts and resources over on Rachel Wolf Clean, and have been remiss in sharing those links with you here. So sorry to have left you out of the loop!

Here are a few recent posts that I think you will enjoy:

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Wild and Tame Tea Sandwich Recipe

This free excerpt from my upcoming book, The Unplugged Family Activity Book is a fun and simple recipe for homemade pesto sandwich spread. It’s a cinch to make and is a delicious diversion!

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Process over Product (processing over producing)

Reflections on how during quarantine we need not be striving to make, do, be, excel, and perhaps there is work to be done by simply tending our hearts.

 

Signs of Spring

Signs of Spring Scavenger Hunt, another free excerpt from my upcoming book for kids and their families. A downloadable, printable page to take with you in your own backyard or neighborhood park.

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Reaching for Grace, an acknowledgement that life is messy and no one has it all dialed in. Not now, not ever.

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How to make beet kvass, the 5-minute ferment. You can do this!

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If you have kids at home, my kid has you covered. With small, simple projects to keep your kids hands and minds engaged during long days at home. Lupine (my daughter and the “Lu” of LüSa) has launched a YouTube Channel, just for kids. Learn more (and link on over) here.

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And finally, suddenly homeschooling? Read this. 

I hope these resources serve you and your family, and bring a bit of ease and comfort during these trying days.

Big love,
Rachel

Love Bomb (for frontline workers)

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Do you know someone on the front lines during the COVID crisis? Healthcare workers, grocery staff, delivery people, childcare providers, and other workers are truly the heroes and sheroes of the day.

I created the Love Bomb just for them.

A carefully curated collection of LüSa products for this profoundly stressful time, it’s a thoughtful way to say thanks to someone working hard to take care of the rest of us.

The Love Bomb includes one each of the following:

Be among the first 50 customers to order, we’ll include a large, organic lavender sachet, while supplies last. (As shown in the second photograph.)

Don’t forget the gift message for your (s)hero!

Gifting your Love Bomb to a front line hero? Use *coupon code “LOVEBOMBGIFT” for free US shipping on any gift order that includes a Love Bomb. Contact us for reduced shipping for international orders. (Feel free to add additional items as well, that will be shipped to the same address. A few suggestions are below.) *This is a proper coupon code, and belongs in the coupon field during checkout.

As a courtesy, we ask you to reserve use of this coupon for gift orders only, please. Thank you!

We’re essential

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Here in Wisconsin, Govern Evers issued a “Safer at Home” order earlier this week, closing all non-essential businesses. However, as providers of cleansing products and personal care items, LüSa will remain open, making and shipping products to all who need them.

We’re breathing a big sigh of relief to know that we can continue delivering essentials like soaps and balms to local coops, natural food stores, and your homes.

Our staff, of course, is taking every precaution to stay healthy, and they have the option to pull the plug and stay home if coming in begins to feel like too much. We’ve established new sick leave benefits specifically for COVID-19, because we love our team like crazy and want them to be well (in body and in spirit). And members of our team who can work from home have already been doing so for 2 weeks now, leaving a team of just 1 to 2 people on-site at one time, to make product and pack and ship orders.

All this to say, great news: the soap making will continue. It certainly feels like more important work now than ever before.

Stay well, friends. This is a rocky road indeed, but we’re traveling it together.

Be well,

Rachel + Team LüSa