Friday, November 19, 2010

My baby girl Sequoia Pearl entered the world peacefully on
Monday November 15, 2011 7:50am
6 lbs 2 oz, 18 inches long

A teeny tiny bundle of joy!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fall Plant Altar

For my one class (Magic and Medicine of Plants) we were asked to try to make an altar for Samhain and our plant ancestors. Of course I'm late to the party as usual.

Also because I don't really celebrate holidays much I tend to do things by season. So here is my fall time altar. My kids helped put some of the things up there (they do this all the time and are constantly bringing things in from outside like rocks, leaves and flowers). So I guess you can say it's part altar part nature table. Whatever goes pretty much here!

As for the plants on my altar we have;

milkseed pods and fluff

as well as some hydrangea that my daughter loves to bring in when it dries up in the fall (she makes me big bouquets of it!!!) She and my son also love to play with the plants I put up there and turn them into a type of talismans! So cute!

Sorry the picture is not the best. But you get the idea.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Herbal Study Group

I have an herb project in the works and I'm so excited to pull this together! I am really longing to create an herbal study group local to me this winter/next spring. Mainly to meet other herbalists-to-be, plant medicine making students and like minded folk. I would like to possibly put this together as early as after the new year but more likely come spring. Though I am really going to try to shoot for sooner as I am anxious to put this together!

I have been working hard on brainstorming logistics and how to find others who are wanting to learn more about herbs in a cooperative type setting. I would like this to be an informal and small group held at my house or maybe the co-op meeting room or library? I am envisioning something kid and family friendly with a potluck afterwards! I have used in the past and will probably use it for this group as it is just really convenient and easy. I think it is going to serve this project well! I will probably also work on some flyers too to hang up on various bulletin boards nearby as well and write up a press release and blurb for some of the local papers.

So there is lots to do!!!!!!

Right now I am just trying to figure out how to go about organizing such a group currently so it's really in the very beginning planning stages! I think it would be really fun and awesome to connect with others wanting to learn more about herbs and learn about them together through each others experiences and as a group. I am hoping we can study one herb a month and also do a medicine making project of some sort to go with each.

I also set up a blog here too for an online study group that could coincide with this real life one! (Though the page is empty currently I will be working on putting it together in the coming weeks and months! Be sure to check back later or I will post an update here when I get some content up there!) I created the blog so my online friends, far away family and blog readers can follow along too!

Every day I am coming up with new ideas for this group and am getting more and more excited about putting this together. I have been trying to find others who run their own study groups as well to get ideas from which has been very helpful!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

We have been here before
and we'll be here again.
The circle remains,
though we all wander far.
So lift up your heart,
you will never be alone.
Let the earth be your medicine forever.

-Dale Colleen Hamilton

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fire Cider

Fire cider is a popular herbal remedy concocted by herbalists and plant people in colder months to be used as an immunity boosting tonic. I was first taught how to make this recipe by Pam Hyde-Nakai of the Sonoran Herbal Institute in 2001 and it was dubbed "Dr. Cayenne". I have made it many times since. Now, for the first time I am noticing variations in other herbalists formula's for fire cider which is interesting. I have never paid attention much before but it only makes sense people will adjust the recipe to their own needs and tastes.

Fire cider is very warming in nature and will help clear out sinus issues and promote good health during the winter months. I like to use it specifically for the nasty sinus infections I used to get when I lived out west. It just clears it right out! It is useful for colds, sinus issues and lung issues. It is extremely warming in nature and is good for treating (and preventing) wet & cold conditions.

I started a batch a couple of weeks ago. It's almost ready to be strained. yay!

The recipe I use is roughly;

2-3 good sized pieces of ginger (usually I peel and grate them this time I just chopped them as I was feeling quite lazy)
1 large horseradish root (again, grated is optimal)
1-3 tsp cayenne (I tend to use ALOT myself as I like it fiery!)
1 liter organic apple cider vinegar
1 large onion chopped
as much garlic as you can stand chopped

Add all the ingredients but the honey to a large 1/2 gallon glass jar. Cap tightly and let sit for about weeks or so. Strain and add honey to taste. Drink a "shot" daily or as needed. Bonus; it makes quite a good dressing for salads and greens.

I have noticed some herbalists don't use onions in their fire cider. I am not sure why that is. I have also noticed some people add ginseng (like Rosemary Gladstar's recipe). I myself was thinking of adding burdock next time I make a batch! So I guess my point is really anything could go in this. Use your imagination and play around with the basic recipe. (Please come back and tell me about it here too!)

The great thing about this recipe is all the ingredients can typically be found in your neighborhood grocery store so it's easily attainable for even the most beginning of herbalists!

Try to buy all organic ingredients if you can. If you are not able to get all organic or finances just don't permit it at the VERY least be sure to purchase the apple cider vinegar organic. This is important as some mainstream non organic brands are made from petroleum believe it or not! (yuck!)

I also found a recipe here by my friend Kiva Rose of the Anima Healing Arts Center & Herbal School in New Mexico for her "Gila Harvest Cider". I am definitely going to try making her version soon!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Goody Bag Winner!

November's goody bag winner is Comfrey Cottages!
(If I have not already contacted you by time this posts I will be soon for your snail mail address. Thanks for entering and I hope you enjoy your goodies!)

Look for details of next months (December's) contest soon!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Herbal Allies- Part 2

So I have finally chosen my plant allies for the coming year. I am starting with 3 but may add more. So these are the 3 plants I want to get to know on a deeper level. It took me awhile to choose these and they may change as I go. Who knows!?! I tried to pick plants that are safe to use while nursing as well.

Over the next year I will study, use and sit with these plants and try to learn as much as I can about them on a physical as well as energetic level. I think the 3 will keep me very busy learning and discovering new things! I am excited to have finally chosen them after much contemplation. Or did they choose me?

I will also be writing my own sort of of monographs of my own on each and adding to it on a regular basis for each one here on my blog. I hope to be able too include a lot of new experiences and observations in the coming year while I am learning about these 3 new plant allies!

1-Rose~ I think I wrote in an earlier post I have used rose a lot for bodycare but not much at all for medicine so I would like to explore the healing aspects deeper. I also would just like to use rose more in my daily life. I feel drawn to it as of lately and crave it's presence. I plan to use it in food, medicine and bodycare/aromatherapy. I find it uplifting, sensuous and gently healing. Like an old familiar friend. I want to learn her secrets and revel in her beauty.

2- Blue Vervain~Feeling called to work with this plant. I'm not entirely sure why but the reasons will become clear eventually I am sure! I very much like the fact that it is a galactagogue since I will be a nursing mom soon. I have not used blue vervain much at all so it's a new plant for me to learn about!

3-Elder~ I am having a love affair with elder. Shhh, don't tell anyone! Though I know i am not the only one. lol. This plant is pretty elusive to someone coming from the southwest, so I am absolutely thrilled they grow here in New England. Other than using elderberry syrup I don't have all that much experience using this plant but I have been extremely drawn to it since discovering it! My mission this coming year is to find as many as I can growing in the wild and use it generously! I am very drawn to learning about the many uses of elder. I feel like it is calling me to soak up all of it's healing energies and wisdom.

I am trying hard not to include more plants with my "ally" list as I am trying to keep things low key right now for simplicity's sake! If it were up to me I'd easily have 10!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Updating Blogroll Links- (Add Your Favorites Please!)

I am updating the links on my blogroll. If you have a blog or website you think I'd be interested in that pertains to herbal medicine please post the URL here under this post and I'll check it out and most likely add it! Thanks! I love reading others blogs about herbal medicine and passing on info. about classes. Almost too much really as I spend enough time online already! But hey it's for a good cause!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Herbs for the Mama to Be

Since I am pregnant (though, not for much longer, I am due in 12 days!) I wanted to touch on herbs during pregnancy. The following is a list of herbs I have found personally useful during pregnancy. I really don't use tons of herbs while pregnant unless I really need them but I have used my fair share over the course of my 3 pregnancies, so I thought I'd share my experiences here.

Every woman's pregnancy is unique to them so you will have to use your own intuition and judgment when using herbs while you are pregnant. Be sure to always look up any herbs you are using or plan to use if you are not sure it is safe. When in doubt don't use it or ask your midwife or local herbalist their opinion. This is really important, especially during the first trimester.

Red Raspberry Leaf~ A good tonic herb. This is the best herb for pregnancy. If I had to choose just one herb it would be red raspberry leaf!! It will help keep you nourished and it tones the uterus and helps soften the cervix. It is also iron rich which will give you a boost and protect you from becoming anemic..

Oatstraw/Milky oats~ A gentle nervine this is a good herb to take daily. It is also extremely nourishing and it helps stabilize moody emotions and depression. Of course it is very nourishing to the blood and body as well as the mind.

Skullcap~ I use skullcap for headaches but I have been reading that it is useful in toning the uterus in the 3rd trimester to promote a better birth and reduce labor pain. It is also high in calcium.

Cranberry~ Not an herb but I thought I'd include it anyway. I have found cranberry tablets useful for UTI's if you are prone to them. Be sure to cut out all artificial sugar as well.

Catnip~ A gentle analgesic. This is a good one for easing headaches and body aches. I like it infused with lemon balm and red raspberry leaf!

Lemon Balm~ A nervine. Good for extreme tension. I have used it for cramps during the latter part of pregnancy. The kind that don't let you get sleep. It helps soothe them really well!

Peppermint~ I love peppermint. I use it for everything from morning sickness and to help soothe myself during allergy attacks. I find it relaxing and it helps My kids love it too iced or hot which is a bonus! Try some peppermint tea pops (frozen) during labor too for a boost! yum,yum!

Ginger~ Good for nausea for some! Though it doesn't work for morning sickness for me and I don't use it until my 3rd trimester generally. I like it for quelling an upset stomach later in pregnancy. I also like it for colds/sinus upsets.

Lavender~ Probably my most used herb. I use the essential oil almost daily! I find it extremely calming and relaxing. I use it in an aromatherapy burner and endless baths during pregnancy. It is also useful for many other things like the yeast rash I got under my breast a month ago or so.

Rose~ (rosa gallica and rugosa) Rose is really calming like lavender but in a more sensual way. I love it in an elixir or infusion for calming myself down. It's great for anxiety and calming a worried heart. I have some delicious rose chai that is such a treat to drink! It helps stimulate a poor appetite and is also useful for colds. I also like the oil in the bath and an aromatherapy burner. It helps for anxiety, moodyness, sadness and more!

Comfrey- Comfrey infused oil is useful for the skin. Stretch marks and the stretching during labor and beyond. It can be made into an infusion and applied topically post birth too promote healing.

Arnica- Useful in an infused oil or made into a sale for topical pain relief. I like it for sore muscles and things like relieving round ligament pain.

Chamomile- Useful as a mild sedative. I use it as an infusion when I can't sleep. It helps. I also use the essential oil alot as I find it soothing.

Slippery Elm~ Useful for heartburn if it works for you. I had tried it with some success but I generally get heartburn no herbs have been able to touch! ackk!

Hawthorn-I used hawthorn tincture for about 2 months to help keep my blood pressure somewhat stabilized during a bout of high blood pressure during my first pregnancy. Turns out it was white coat induced but I do believe it did help some. You can also make hawthorn jelly (Use the recipe in the rose hip jelly in the post below)

Nettles~ An overall nourishing herb, nettles can help you have a better birth. It can make labor less painful by providing extra calcium. It is chock full of vitamins and is useful for building vitamin K in the blood.

Peach leaves~ These can be used as an elixir or infusion for mild morning sickness. It helps settle your stomach and is very soothing.

Rose Hips~Useful in tea for a vitamin C boost. Vitamin C helps you absorb iron better and can help you recover from being sick faster. Ohh, and I almost forgot, I just found some rosehips in my yard and plan to make an infused oil with them for my tired postpartum skin. I have heard rose hip infused oil is divine. I may make a body butter of some sort. Of course I will post about my results later! : )

Elderberry~ One of the most delicious preventative medicines out there! I love elderberry syrup for helping boost your immunity. You could also make elderberry jelly. (use the rose hip video below just use dried elderberries!)

Cayenne~ I know this is going to sound crazy but I feel like cayenne helps me during horrible bouts of morning sickness. I love to add it to my food and feel like it stimulates my appetite. It's also good for clearing out sinus stuff.

I hope you find this info. helpful. I am not writing this as medical advice just as my own experience! I know there are probably plenty of herbs I am leaving out but these are the most used herbs I have used.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Lavender Lemon Bark Recipe

There's a candy shop in Boise, ID that my mother in law used to bring me this really scrumptious lavender lemon bark from. I have been wanting to recreate the recipe for years now and I finally did it! Here is my version!

1.5 lbs white chocolate
2-3 tsp. lavender flowers
1 cup roasted almonds
1-2 tsp. lemon extract

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler stirring constantly until melted. Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients. The lavender and lemon should be added to taste so you will need to test it! ;) Stir well and spread into a foil lined 9x13 pan. Cool and break into pieces. Store it in an airtight tin or ziploc bag in the fridge. Yum!!!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rose Hips Jelly

I made this rose hip jelly from this video for the first time last night. (can you say SUPER easy?) I am not sure why I haven't made it sooner. I have used them a bunch in tea but never jelly before now so I'm excited to try something new! Also excited to go find some wild at some point.

Rose hips are the "berry" left behind after roses die. It is best to wild harvest them after the first frost.

To make the jelly all you have to do is basically reconstitute dried rose hips (or use fresh if you are so lucky to have a source), mash it up and add honey to taste! I think I will add just a bit of cinnamon to mine. mmmm! oh so good, I just love the tangy tartness! Oh and if you use fresh hips I think you need to strain out the seeds. You may want to double check on that.

Rose hips contain a very high concentration of vitamin C. So eating a scoop (or three) of this a day is actually immune boosting and will help you keep colds and other winter sickies away. Rose hips actually contain more vitamin C than citrus I have read!

They also are said to be anti-inflammatory in nature. Which is said to help some folks with stiffness and joint pain if you have osteo arthritis (like me). In any case I am willing to try it out over the winter and see if it helps me, so I will report back how this is working for me at some point in the future! I have some issues with my feet and knees that tend to flare up in the winter time due to the cold. So we'll see how it works out for me.

You can purchase rose hips in bulk from your local co-op or health food store or from Mountain Rose Herbs online.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Herbal Honey

I have been making herbal honey this week thanks to this article by a very wise woman/herbalist Ananda Wilson! I am completely obsessed now and have made almost a dozen blends or so thus far!

Herbal honey's are sometimes called by the proper "herbalist" name of electuaries. They are basically herbs and roots steeped in honey. A sweet way to take your medicine if you will! Many times these herbs are unpleasant on their own so this is a way to mask the taste. Other herbal honey blends on the other hand are just scrumptious to make! I am having fun trying to think up new blends to mix up! They are so cheap and easy to make! Plus they go great with herb tea or you could just eat it by the spoonful! If you do holiday gift giving they would make great gifts with some tea!

So far I have started;

catnip~ (nervine, mild analgesic)
ginger~ (upset stomach)
anise~(for digestive issues, heartburn, tastes yum!)
milk goddess blend- anise, coriander, blessed thistle, fenugreek, fennel~ (for promoting lactation for breastfeeding)
lavender~ (nervine)
cocoa/peppermint~ (just because it sounded yum!)

also, (not pictured);
lemon balm
bee balm (pictured in an older post)

and in the works in the not so distant future (as soon as I get more jars, herbs and honey!);

pumpkin spice~
lavender cocoa~
rose chai~
some type of immunity boosting honey~
vanilla bean and cinnamon honey~
lemon~ (Which is my ABSOLUTE favorite kind of honey! I am just unsure whether to use extract, essential oils or rinds for this one..hmm..)

To make herbal honey you will need some glass jars w/ tight fitting lids (canning jars work well), herbs, honey and cheesecloth/fine mesh strainer.

Put the herbs in the jar (I filled mine about 1/4 of the way), fill the rest of the jar with honey and stir with a butter knife, add more honey if needed, put the lid on. Let sit for 2-3 weeks. When it is done you will strain it through the cheesecloth/strainer and use the strained honey. You can heat it up a bit on the stove beforehand over low heat to make this easier. (Be sure to compost the herbs!)

The only problem I had was my ginger honey seems really watery. I had to actually pour off some water after the first day. I used fresh ginger so next time I will try dry and compare the two!