Delicious, low-impact DIY: Herbal ice pops; dried herbs

It's really hot outside, which makes motivating yourself to actually do something outside/anything that requires you to sweat incredibly unappealing. But, as good DIYers know: the self-sufficiency show must go on! So, here are two low-impact, low-perspiration projects with high flavor, high payback.

Herb drying
DIY herb drying
This is probably the easiest way to dry your favorite herbs or flowers for later use:

Go foraging for herbs and flowers that you most commonly use in cooking, tisanes, etc. (Check out this handy chart to know what part of the plant to use, when to harvest them and other tips. And, obviously, consult an expert if you're unsure of what you're looking for!) Now is a great time to harvest many of your favorites because their flavor and beneficial oils are at their peak: mints, lemon balm, hyssop, thyme, sage, chamomile, lavender, nettles, raspberry and strawberry leaves - at least those are what are on my line. As a precautionary measure, wash the herbs or flowers a day or two before you plan to dry them so they are free from dirt or pests.

There are many, many ways to actually dry herbs. My way: Find a dry - not humid - place in your house where the herbs can be bundled, tied and hung on a line or from a few finishing nails. My drying line is made from three finishing nails, hemp twine and clothespins to hang the bundles on the line, all hanging on an otherwise underutilized beam. If you're drying herbs in an attic or the upstairs of a barn or garage, you might want to bundle the herbs and hang them from within a paper bag with holes poked in it. It'll prevent pests and potential moisture - and eventual mold - from forming.

Your herbs are ready when they crunch and crush easily without any sign of moisture. This could be a few weeks or a few months, but check on them occasionally to see how the process is going. (Note: If anything looks questionably, discard or compost them.) When ready, crush and seal in air-tight jars for later use. (**Look for an upcoming post on how to make tinctures from these dried creations!**)

Ice pops!
Herbal iced tea + pops
Now that you just read the boring part, here's an easy project for a quick drink and/or cool dessert.

Start with a sun tea: Simply put your favorite tea bags or loose herbs into a mason jar and fill up with water. I'm not an herbalist or anything, so my blend isn't in specific proportions or anything, but here's what I'm a fan of lately: hibiscus, spearmint, lemon balm, red clover and nettles. Once the herbs are in the water, seal the jar and put in a sunny spot outside or on a windowsill. The longer the tea sits, the stronger it is.

Once the tea has steeped for the desired length of time, you can drink as-is, add some ice and/or sweetener of your choice. At this point you can also make ice pops! Just pour the mixture into pop molds (or you can make your own with paper cups and wooden craft sticks) and freeze. So good!

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The good thing about these projects: They use minimal resources, you can't really mess up and you can adapt blends to your specific tastes or needs. Give them a try and take your mind off the heat!