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Age-old health remedies, cleaners, and beauty products made from natural ingredients—some found in our own backyards—are enjoying a new popularity. Here’s why.
In her new book, Forgotten Ways for Modern Days: Kitchen Cures and Household Lore for a Natural Home and Garden, author Rachelle Blondel shows how easy it is to use homegrown ingredients for a surprising number of purposes—things like honey to treat small cuts, or combining lemon, water, and vinegar to keep glass sparkling clean. These age-old recipes and remedies connect us to past traditions by using just a few commonplace ingredients. Blondel, who lives in Yorkshire, England, and founded the website and blog dockandnettle.com, shares why she’s drawn to homemade solutions.
VT: Are you hoping that people will connect to their own place of living by learning how much is useful in the natural environment?
Rachelle Blondel: The more people leave behind harsh chemicals and use natural alternatives the better—and that can only be a good thing for our health, the planet, and living alongside nature rather than battling it. It’s amazing how much you can clean with vinegar and a drop of citrus.
VT: How did you find these remedies, recipes, and homemade-item ideas, since so many came from previous generations?
RB: I spent a lot of time with my grandparents and loved helping them around the house and garden. They had lived through hard times and learned to make do with what was available. It felt like second nature to squirrel away these recipes and remedies, and to use them in my own home.
VT: How long have you been collecting these ideas?
RB: As a child, I would concoct potions from the kitchen cupboards, make “perfume” from flowers in the garden, and spend hours cleaning old British copper coins with vinegar or ketchup to feel a great satisfaction as they shone brightly. I have always listened when folk told me of their favorite way of doing something, using old-fashioned or natural resources. I’d then go off and experiment on my own.
VT: According to your new book, a few key essentials to have on hand are eggshells, white vinegar, lemons, and honey. Any others you’d recommend?
RB: I use essential oils both for my health and cleaning the house. I trained as an aromatherapist and personally would never be without a bottle of lavender, tea tree, or cedarwood oil in the house. With so many oils to choose from, it’s well worth taking the time to find the right ones for you and your home.