What's New at Riverside Soaps!!!

So much is going on here at Riverside Soaps, and things are really heating up in the soap kitchen! Wildflowers are blooming, and some have already come and gone, some aren't quite there yet, and believe it or not, we're looking forward to the fall when there will be an abundance of natural, organic flowers that most people would consider weeds that make amazing skin care products available that we may just have our eye on! 

While nobody knows for sure if the kids will be back to school yet or not, now is a great time to take kids on nature walks to teach them about edible plants and poisonous plants, and what to do if they've come into contact with them. If you're not sure which is which, a great place to start is to try to find someone in your community who runs wild edibles courses! They usually also point out the poisonous as well, and teach you how to avoid the nasty plants. Some are still running individual walks for those looking for something to do with their kids - I learned all about plants as a Girl Guide, and that knowledge is still with me today to pass on to my children (although I have to admit, Giant Hogweed, Wild Parsnip, and some of the other 'newer' foreign invasive species weren't an issue when I was young).

A few fun facts for you on that note:

-Dandelions are not only edible, and make an interesting wine, but did you know you can make a horn from its stem? Simply pick the flower from its base, pluck the flower from the top, and blow through one end - ta-da! Dandelion horn! There ARE a few around still, the bigger the stem, the better the horn - take a nature walk and try to find one for your kids to try out!

-Red Clover is edible, and you can make a delicious tea out of it without even drying it! Any wildflowers you pick for consumption should come from an area that has NOT been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides in 7 or more years, or from an organic farm. One caveat - Red Clover IS an Estrogenic - so women with breast cancer or other forms of female reproductive cancers should avoid it in all its forms, including topical.

-Remember Queen Anne's Lace? It's EVERYWHERE! I used to make bouquets using Queen Anne's Lace and other weeds in the conservation area behind my house, only to recently discover when I was looking up poisonous Hemlock (which looks VERY similar to Queen Anne's Lace but lacks the red spot in the middle of the white flowers, and is shaped like an umbrella) that Queen Anne's Lace is actually ALSO poisonous! While I never reacted to it, apparently some people do have skin reactions! 

-Rose Hips make an awesome tea! Wild Roses can be found growing across Canada, usually where you least expect it, but they are prolific in Alberta. My son and I were lucky enough to find some in a marsh on one of our walks, and I got OH so excited! If you have rose bushes, and don't cut off the flowers, you will get rose hips. Come the fall, they will turn a beautiful red color, and you can pick them and dry them, then store them to make tea with. Rose hips from Wild Roses make the sweetest tea of all roses, though, so if you find a wild rose bush and want to harvest the hips come the fall, shhhh...keep it a secret!

-Do you know the difference between Wild Parsnip, Cow Parsnip, and Hemlock? No? There are ways to differentiate between them, but basically, or if they have carrot-like leaves, if they look like Queen Anne's lace regardless of the size, assume they're poisonous and stay away. 

 Nature walks are great, but they're not what they were in our day - if you're anything like my gang of friends, we used to romp through the conservation area that ran behind our houses, running through the fields, fishing along the creek, picking wildflowers and eating wild strawberries (ever seen them? They are TINY!) and looking for bunnies, tiny toads and, of course, snakes (well, at least the boys did). Things have changed so much and I mourn for the loss of natural exploration that my children don't have, but I still try to make the most of it. See what you can find in your area, and try to make the best of our COVID confinement while you can - soon winter will be upon us again and we'll be cooped up in our houses with whiny kids, surly teenagers, and the never-ending pew-pew-pew of video game sound effects.

Till next time, stay soapy, and lather on! (yeah, I know, it's cheesy, my son warned me not to say it, but I felt like I needed a catch phrase and it was my turn to annoy him :).