How to Raise Monarch Butterflies – Supply and Resource List raising monarch butterflies

Many of you have followed my journey of raising monarch butterflies over the last several years on my Instagram. And many of you have expressed interest in raising them yourself, and that’s why I’m writing today. I learned everything about how to care for monarch butterflies from egg-to-butterfly from helpful blogs/videos. I’m putting together a list of resources that I feel will help you learn as well. But before that, I must mention that raising butterflies in habitats does end up feeling like a part-time job. It is a lot of work and requires daily care. If you are not up for the task, then perhaps plant pollinator-friendly flowers and milkweed in your garden instead.  Though, be sure to find out if the flowers are indeed safe for pollinators. You’d be surprised at how many nurseries receive pre-treated plants, that ultimately do more harm than good.

Also, when I talk about raising butterflies indoors, it is raising the eggs that are laid on milkweed, found outside my front door. I do not get shipped eggs/caterpillars to release into the wild. I am purely caring for the caterpillars to increase their odds of survival. In nature, less than 1 in 10 eggs laid will successfully transform into a butterfly. The caterpillars surprisingly have a lot of predators, such as bees, spiders and flies. And humans tend to poison or mow down their habitats. I’ve been raising butterflies for 5 years now and last year we successfully raised and released over 100 butterflies, which would have only been maybe 10 if left outside.

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I’ve compiled a list of supplies needed:

  • Milkweed. We grow common in our yard but there are many varieties. Try to pick a variety that is native to your area. You can order seeds here.
  • Butterfly habitat. I have owned 5 habitats in my 5 years of raising monarchs and this one is my favorite. I like it because one side unzips, which makes it easy to clean and another side is clear, which is fun for better viewing. The only con of this is that it is lightweight and therefore a little unstable. I fix the issue by putting a few clean rocks on the bottom of the enclosure so that it does not easily tip over. I do not support using jars or glass tanks for butterfly raising – I see people doing it all the time. The reason I don’t like it is because once the butterfly encloses, it needs to hang to dry their wings. They cannot climb on glass. If they fall before their wings are dry, it could cause them to never be able to fly properly. So, I stick to the netted enclosures and have had amazing success with them.
  • More milkweed. You will not believe how much milkweed the caterpillars go through as they grow. Each day, I clean up the butterfly habitats and clip off fresh milkweed leaves from the garden to feed the caterpillars. Be sure not to rub the milkweed milk in your eyes – it’s poison. If I leave town for a couple days, I create a vase-like set up where I can poke milkweed stems through a mason jar lid and screw the lid onto a water-filled mason jar. This allows the milkweed to stay fresh while I’m away, without the risk of the caterpillars falling into the water and drowning. The con to doing this on a daily basis is that if you are cutting away an entire stem (or many stems), you are removing that plant from the garden. I like to leave the stems outside so that more butterflies can lay eggs. If you don’t want to make a vase as I described, you can buy these.

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Here is a list of helpful resources to get you started:

  • Watch this video to learn how to find monarch eggs.
  • How to Raise Monarch Butterflies: A Step-by-step Guide for Kids book. I haven’t personally read this book, but I came across it while shopping and after reading the reviews, it seems like it’s been a reliable resource for many.
  • The Joyful Butterfly blog has a wealth of information about the topic.
  • Deanna at Homestead and Chill has a very in depth post here with additional resources linked.
  • MrLundScience on YouTube has detailed videos, just search the topic “raising monarchs” on his channel.

The entire process is pure magic. If you aren’t interested in raising butterflies at a large scale like we do, then caring for a couple is simple. Children will be in awe of the transformation process. If you have specific questions, feel free to comment on this post or DM me on Instagram.

If you have other helpful resources, please leave a link in the comments.

Good luck!

This post includes affiliate links.

5 Unique Ways to Embrace the Healing Properties of Dandelions

Throughout the last decade, I’ve tried to find unique ways to use the dandelions that grow effortlessly throughout our front and back yards. My daughter has always thought they were beautiful, “Look mom, this is the prettiest one in the yard, see how full it is?” she said to me just yesterday. She picks them and proudly gifts them to me and our guests. I enjoy them more for their medicinal properties, though they are quite cute once you really study them.

Over the years I’ve made jelly with them and fermented the buds (both recipes are in Can It & Ferment It), sautéed the greens and our family-favorite is to bread them in seasoned panko and fry them in coconut oil – yum! But I’m open to trying some new techniques this year and in effort to encourage more of you to try new things with dandelions, I’ve compiled this list of “5 Unique Ways to Embrace the Healing Properties of Dandelions”.

Image source:

So here is my list of things I want to try this year, and I hope you will to:


Tell me, what ways do you enjoy using dandelions? If you’ve never tried before, what sounds most interesting?

How to Make: Organic, Made-from-Scratch Lotion {EASY!}

A few years ago, my part-time blog partner, Kris, posted a recipe for homemade lotion here on the blog. We have been making different variations of the recipe ever since. Once you successfully make your own homemade batch of lotion, you will NEVER waste your money on the store-bought stuff again. After experimenting with different oils, I have come to find I have two favorite concoctions and I’m going to share them with you today.

Before I get down to the business of lotion making, I want to be clear that this lotion is likely more oily than what you are probably used to. But the oils and beeswax are what lock the moisture in your skin and because the ingredients are organic and good for your body, you will notice that your skin stays soft and healthy-looking for much longer than it does with the other stuff you buy. Plus, a little goes a LONG WAY so if you find it to be oily, use less. Trust me, it’s so awesome – it’s worth trying.

Occasionally I’ll get lazy and buy some organic, fantastic-smelling lotion while I’m out shopping, and it’s always a disappointment. The homemade stuff is just so much better. My husband suffers from psoriasis and years ago, when we started making our homemade version, he noticed a big difference in how his skin felt compared to using other lotions. <—– That alone is reason enough to make our own.



  • A glass measuring cup that can be heated (PYREX recommended)
  • 3/4 cup organic oils (My 1st recipe calls for: Jojoba, Olive Oil and Vitamin E oil. My 2nd recipe calls for: 1/4 coconut oil, 1/4 Shea butter, sweet almond)
  • Beeswax, organic (pellets recommended)
  • Essential Oils (optional, for scent)
  • Small sauce pan
  • Blender
  • Spatula
  • Glass jars with lids, for lotion storage
  • Water


In a measuring cup, measure out 3/4 cup of oil – You can pick out any oils that you want and mix and match the amounts, but I generally do 1/2 cup olive oil, and split the remaining quarter cup between jojoba oil and vitamin E oil. Add in 2 tablespoons of beeswax.

ALTERNATE RECIPE –  1/4 cup coconut oil, 1/4 cup shea butter and 1/4 sweet almond oil with 2 tablespoons of beeswax.

Fill a sauce pan up about half way with water and add in the measuring cup of oil. You want the water to reach the level of the oil mixture, but not to be too full that it will splash all over the stove when it’s simmering. Turn the heat up to medium high and stir the oil/wax mixture occasionally until the beeswax pellets are completely melted. Once melted, turn heat off, use a hot pad to remove the measuring cup and place it on the stove top to cool for 2 minutes. Add 30 drops of your favorite essential oil to the hot oil mixture at this point. Our favorite is sweet orange.

In a blender, add 3/4 cup of cold water. Turn the blender on “blend” mode and slowly add the hot oil mix to the blender. If the blending mixture stiffens up and stops mixing, turn the blender off and use the spatula to push out any air pockets that are sometimes created during the blending process. You may need to repeat this a few times. Once all of the oil is added to the water and things are blending smoothly, set the timer for 2 minutes and blend away.

Once blended, transfer the lotion from the blender into a heat-tolerant, glass jar, and leave it uncovered overnight, until it is completely cooled. The next day, cover the jar with an air-tight lid.

That’s it!

Couple additional notes…

  • Remember: A little goes a long way!
  • The essential oil scent fades over time. You’ll smell the essential oil during application, but as the day goes on, the smell fades. So don’t worry about the fragrance overpowering your lotion.
  • Play around with oils! Some oils are less “oily” than others. Some will make your body feel better than others. Look up organic oils and their benefits and determine which mixture sounds like the best fit for your body and needs. My husband prefers lotion made with Hemp Seed Oil. He thinks it helps with his psoriasis more than any of the other oils, but I don’t like that one as much because of the “woody” scent it has.
  • Make a few batches at a time. We go through about one batch per month (between the 3 of us), so I like to make 3-4 batches since I have the supplies out anyway.
  • In the summer, keep a jar in the fridge to apply cold. It really cools you down nicely.
  • Homemade lotion makes a fantastic gift. Think of your friends and family when making it!
  • Oils I’ve tried variations of and liked: Organic: Vitamin E Oil, Jojoba Oil, Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Olive Oil, and Sweet Almond Oil, Hemp Seed Oil

Happy Earth Day! Exclusive Promo: Join MightyFix For Just $1!

Earth day is Saturday, April 22nd – Make a change for the better! 

Long before MightyNest was around, I wished for a store that offered all-safe products, free of BPA, PVC and other harsh chemicals and toxins. I had a newborn baby at the time and I found myself spending endless hours searching the internet to find the safest products available. I wanted a place to take the worry out of my shopping experience and that is EXACTLY what MightyNest has done. Everything sold at their shop is safe and toxin-free. Truly a dream come true!

Now MightyNest has deployed an awesome program called MightyFix. It’s a subscription program where each month, you are shipped one amazing product that is eco-friendly and promotes more sustainable living. Each item sent monthly is valued more than the monthly subscription fee (which is only $8.25-$10/depending on plan) and it ships for free! Not only does your MightyFix item ship free, but you can purchase any products from the MightyNest website and that will ship for free with your MightyFix order! Who doesn’t love FREE shipping?

This month I was sent 5 Reusable Produce Bags as part of the MightyFix subscription. These reusable bags are perfect for bagging produce at the grocery store but also work wonderful for bagging bulk items such as: beans, nuts, and dried fruit. They also serve as washable bags to toss small items in when traveling or going to the beach. They also can be used to protect your delicates in the washing machine!

Here are some jaw-dropping facts about plastic from

  • 160,000 plastic bags are used globally EVERY SECOND.
  • The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is a floating landfill of garbage in the Pacific, is twice the size of Texas and is mostly composed of plastic.
  • Whales and other sea life are dying because they mistake plastic for food and eat it.
  • Plastic bags are produced using petroleum, natural gas and other chemicals. Its production is toxic to the environment.
  • Plastic remains toxic even after it breaks down. It doesn’t biodegrade, it photo-degrades, which means that after it degrades, it breaks down into smaller and smaller toxic bits of itself and bleeds contaminates into the environment.

Now why are we using plastic bags again? MightyNest is making it really easy for you to take the first step in your personal life to making better choices.

MightyNest is offering Minnesota from Scratch readers a special promotional rate of just $1 for the first month of a new subscription! Just use the promo code: MINNESOTAPRODUCE at checkout or click hereYou will be sent these awesome Reusable Produce Bags for just $1. Such a crazy great deal!   You can cancel your subscription at anytime, so what have you got to lose?

Happy Earth Day!

6 Delicious and Unique Recipes Featuring Rhubarb

Pic from one of our 2015 harvests, when we made some jam. 🙂

The rhubarb in our home garden started appearing in early March and I still have 20 cups of it (cleaned and chopped) frozen from last year’s harvest. Year after year I make dozens of jars of strawberry-rhubarb jam and apple-rhubarb jam and today I’m in the mood for something new. After some time spent searching the internet, I created a collection of 6 recipes that piqued my interest. I intend to give 1 or 2 of these a try this week!

  1. Rhubarb BBQ Sauce
  2. Rhubarb Simple Syrup
  3. Stewed Rhubarb 
  4. Spicy Rhubarb Chutney
  5. Rhubarb Butter
  6. Rhubarb Kimchi (Fermented)

If you have a favorite rhubarb recipe not listed, please let me know in the comments.

How to Grow Alfalfa Sprouts in a Jar

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Growing sprouts is one of the easiest things you can do on your own. They are tasty and add a delightful crunch to a sandwich, salad, taco or soup.  In addition to being delicious, they are also packed with health benefits. According to, alfalfa sprouts are a great source of dietary fiber, protein (important for vegan diets), and B vitamins.

To grow your own alfalfa sprouts at home, you just need a quart size mason jar (or other similar glass container), cheese cloth, a rubber binder, organic sprouting seeds, tap water and about 4-5 days.

I buy organic alfalfa sprouting seeds here. They are very inexpensive.

  • Add 1 tbsp seeds into a clean quart jar and fill with tap water until the seeds are submerged. About 1-2″ of water. Cover jar with cheese cloth. Soak overnight.
  • After the seeds have soaked 12+ hours, pour the water out that they were soaking in and rinse once more. Cover with cheese cloth. Turn the jar horizontally and slowly rotate to spread the seeds out so that some will stick to the sides of the jar. Store in a dark place (such as a dark corner of the counter top or in a cupboard), out of direct sunlight at room temperature (ideally 68-72°F). Store the jar on it’s side. You don’t want the seeds in a wet mass in the jar or they may mold. 
  • Repeat the steps of rinsing the seeds daily until the seedlings have grown 1-2″. It takes about 4-5 days.
  • My mom has grown sprouts for decades and she tells me to place the jar in sunlight for about 20 minutes once the sprouts have grown to their edible length. This gives the sprouts a chance to turn darker green.

alfalfa sprouts.jpg

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Soak over night, or for at least 12 hours

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Rinse daily and gently rotate the jar so the seeds can spread out and grow

THAT’S IT. IT’S SO EASY. Kids can’t get enough of these things. Once the sprouts are big enough to eat, I take what I need from the jar and continue to rinse and let them grow on my counter for a few days. If longer term storage is needed, store them in the fridge.


Dreams Do Come True: I’m Writing a Book!


Next summer, in July or August of 2017, you’ll be able to buy my book! I’m writing a book! I cannot believe it. I wrote my first 4,000 words over the weekend and although it feels good, I have a lot ahead of me. It’s an awesome feeling but also so, so scary. It’s easy to let my insecurities creep into my mind but I will continue to be positive and keep my eyes on the prize, THIS BOOK IS GOING TO ROCK.

I began canning about ten years ago and it quickly became an obsession, I’m sure many of you know exactly what I mean. After a lifelong love affair with kimchi, I decided it was time to start fermenting as well (I finally mastered my recipe two years ago). As the years go by, I’ve come to realize that most people stick to one hobby or the other, not enough of you can and ferment food. That’s when the idea came to me and I decided that I needed to write a book with both canning AND fermentation recipes, for the same produce item. Now you will be able to easily reference recipes for both canning and fermenting for the same fruit or vegetable in one amazingly resourceful book, my book!

I’m going to be laser focused over the next 9 months and do my best to produce the most delicious recipes I can come up with.

Thanks for all the love and support over the years on this blog, twitter and instagram. ❤

Halloween Crafts for Kids: Monsters and Spiders

Yesterday was a cold and rainy day here in Minnesota and I like nothing more than hunkering down with my daughter and crafting and cooking on days like that. My daughter loves decorating for holidays and she woke up yesterday and began creating little spiders with wooden beads and pipe cleaners. That set the tone for our crafty morning and we took a peek on Pinterest to get ideas of other Halloween decorations that we could make with materials we already had around the house. One thing we found were cute TP roll monsters. Here are the spiders and monsters we made: Halloween Crafts 3

One of my Instagrammers wanted a tutorial so here is a brief summary of how to make them!

Materials for monsters:

  • TP rolls or paper towel rolls cut in half
  • Paint and paint brushes/foam brushes
  • Eye balls (we bought ours at the $1 store)
  • Glue
  • Construction paper
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Scissors

First paint the TP rolls whatever colors you’d like: Halloween Crafts

Then add the eye balls in whatever creative way you’d like. My daughter added eye balls around the entire TP roll on one monster, which made me think we could decorate both sides with a face and have them double-sided! If you don’t have the googley-eye balls, then they could be drawn on as well or cut out of paper — just be creative! Halloween Crafts 2

Then we just cut mouths out of construction paper and glued them on.  For the arms, I used a scissors to cut little slits to slide the pipe cleaners through – this is a job for the adult. Be careful not to poke yourself!  And then bend the arms in whatever spooky way you’d like. To get the spiral look, just wrap the pipe cleaner around a pen or pencil. Halloween Crafts 4

To make the spiders, all you need are wooden beads and pipe cleaners. My daughter received a kit from her God Mother that came with a bunch of wooden beads and pipe cleaners with creative suggestions of things to to make. I believe the kit is available at Target. All you need to do is poke four pipe cleaners through the larger wooden bead and bend the pipe cleaners to look like legs. Grab a permanent marker and draw on a spider face and that’s it! Halloween Crafts 5

Have fun!

How to Make Thieves Oil – Natural Flu and Cold Repellent

Today we have a special guest blogger taking over MinnesotaFromScratch. Sandy is CEO of Millionaire Moms, a Freelance writer, Success Coach and Mompreneur. She and her husband have 5 amazing children and have been blissfully married for 21 years — their secret? No TV!  Sandy’s  2014 motto is “Do Less and Enjoy More!” I hope you enjoy the informative article she has to share with us today about Thieves Oil…

The mysterious tale of Thieves Oil takes place in the 15th century in the midst of the Black Plague. The story claims there was a band of thieves who robbed the dead and dying but seemed to be totally immune. These unscrupulous but very successful four thieves were finally captured in France and convicted of these terrible crimes. While they were in court, a plea bargain was entered into. If they would tell the court officials how they were able to escape the plague while being in constant contact with the infected corpses there sentence would be less severe. It was then conveyed that they had a special concoction they prepared since they had a good knowledge of spices and fragrances. Apparently the thieves had simply rubbed themselves with aromatic herbs (cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, and rosemary). These herbs each had their own benefits but when put together were so powerful as to help them become immune even to the plague.

Fast forward about five centuries and Thieves Oil is being used in many forms. Its claim to fame is the fact that it is still anti-viral, anti-bacterial as well as anti-septic like the infamous original.

The spray version can be used as a hand sanitizer or many people diffuse it to ward off colds and the flu. I love the way this essential oil smells when you diffuse it in any room in your house to help protect yourself from all those nasty flu bugs.

Here’s my favorite version DIY version:

Thieves Essential Oil:

Take 2 teaspoons each of the following essential oils: Cinnamon, Clove, Eucalyptus, and Rosemary. Add to a small glass bottle with a dropper. This undiluted essential oil will be very strong and can be added to a diffuser to fight infection. I recommend using 5-7 drops. To create a spray you can use directly on your hands or surfaces to disinfect, you can dilute the essential oil by using a “carrier oil”. It is fine to use olive oil since most people have it on hand. Use 2 tablespoons of the carrier oil and 20 drops of the Thieves oil.

Interesting Ways to Use Thieves Oil

• Diffuse in your home to keep the germ count down.

• Breathe in the vapors to clear congestion.

• Add a few drops to your dishwasher for sanitizing.

• Mix with water in spray bottle to repel insects on plants.

• Use to dissolve the gummy adhesive on price labels

If you are short on time or just not into DIY, you can also buy Thieves Oil already blended and ready to use. The brand I recommend can be found here.

Healthy Blessings!


For more articles written by Sandy, click here or here.

How to Make Frozen Ice Globes – Wintertime Fun

Last year my in-laws gave us an Ice Globe making set but we didn’t get around to making them until this weekend. With temperatures in Minnesota being lower they have been in two decades, we were inspired to have some fun with ice. Basically the kit comes with large, thick balloons that you fill up with water and let sit outside for 20+ hours until the water is partially frozen inside. Then you take the balloon wrapper off, pour out the water from the inside of the globe and light it up!

I was impatient for the large globes in the kit to freeze, so I found a few balloons we had around the house, and filled those with water. The process is exactly the same, but instead of waiting 20 hours, we waited 7 hours… granted the temp was -15 degrees F so things froze pretty quickly. We periodically checked the firmness of the balloons, and once they felt like they had a solid shell, but weren’t totally solid, we brought them in. Do not put the balloons on the concrete without a layer of parchment paper (or some barrier), otherwise they’ll stick to the ground. You can also just plop them in the snow until frozen, that’s what I did with the balloons.


This one we opened a little prematurely but it still worked nonetheless!

This one we opened a little prematurely but it still worked nonetheless!

I recommend taking the balloon off over the sink because the  unfrozen water from inside the globe with spill out. You can either light the globes up with a waterproof flameless candle (which is what I’d recommend), or you can use tea lights. If you use tea lights, you need to create a chimney in the top of your globe so the flame doesn’t get snuffed out. You can use a drill for creating the chimney. Ice Globes

These globes will last through the winter as long as the temp remains low. I encourage you to get creative by adding some food coloring to make colored globes!

Other tips:

  • Temps should be under 20 degrees F or 7 degrees C to make the globes.
  • Small balloons can take 14 to 18 hours to freeze and larger ones, up to 30 hours.
  • You can melt open a chimney instead of drilling by placing the globe over a lit candle that has plenty of airflow underneath and it will melt a chimney open.

What are your favorite wintertime activities?

Thanks for reading,


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