Monday, December 30, 2013

Brrrr it's Cold Outside

  It's winter in New England.  It is cold outside (as it should be).  I love the change of seasons and what each has to offer.  The cold for me brings warm comfy sweaters, reading more, needle point, comfort food, slowing down and connection.  Summer is a blur of activity and often times speeds by before I get a chance to sit and say hello to my friends.  Not so in winter.  The energy of winter is slower for me,  time stands still and frees up so I can connect more with myself, with family and with friends.  It is a time I need to nourish all that will burst forth as Spring arrives.  It is a time for me to play in the kitchen for hours without being overwhelmed by heat a time to make nourishing food for the body and soul.  It is my favorite time of the year to make soap as I can use the cool air (and hopefully some snow) as nature's ice bath.
    But, winter has its own health challenges colds, flu, sinus and an assortment of bugs. We are inside a lot more, the air is dry and often stagnant.  Schools and work places are breeding grounds for all sorts of things. So what is one to do?  Wash your hands and keep them away from your face - simple yet often over looked.  And I know I need to make a conscious effort not to rub my eyes or set my head on my hands.  I cook with lots of garlic and onions.  I simmer pots of soups and stews with astragalus root, reishi mushrooms and bay leaves..  I keep a bottle of elderberry tincture on the table as a reminder to add to my daily routine.  I simmer elderberry syrup as a special treat or to assuage that first sign of anything.  I get plenty of sleep. The ginger tea comes out more as well as the lovely chi tea.  Essential oils are at the ready for a steam to clear the sinuses and the netti pot is used more frequently. What I strive for is all the little things I can incorporate into my families daily life to stay healthy.  What is the saying; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
     So. how do I incorporate  the items I listed above into my every day life and how can you?  I love to cook but, even if you don't just adding some onion, garlic or ginger to your recipes will help.  Onions boast a long list of medical benefits including being antibiotic and anti-inflammatory. They are beneficial to the circulatory system and are an expectorant, taken the world over for colds and flu. Garlic among its long list of benefits is anti-viral.  And ginger is an anti-inflammatory.  Anything in my house that simmers for any length of time receives an astragalus root, reishi mushroom and bay leaf.  During dinner I put a bowl on the table and inform the family how many of each they need to look for and add to the bowl. Reishi mushrooms are anti-inflammatory and antiviral among many other health benefits.  Bay leaf adds flavor but is also used as to aid in digestion and the absorption of food.  It assists in the breakdown of heavy foods especially meat. I have heard two theories on elderberry.  Some use it at the first sign of a cold or bug.  Others use it daily during the winter as a preventative.  I work in an office that is comprised of cubicles (think whack-a-mole).  Most can not afford to take the day off with the sniffles or cough.  So, I take a teaspoon a day of elderberry tincture.  I also encourage my daughter to take it as well since schools seem to be a breeding ground for all sorts of bugs.  If you are not in such an environment you may want to just have elderberry on hand.
     I have my cup of coffee in the morning.  I just love coffee - the taste, the smell....  But the rest of the day I drink tea warm or iced.  My go to drink is hibiscus tea.  I make it by the gallon and keep it in the refrigerator.  It has a lovely fruit flavor, is a pretty red and is high in vitamin C.  I must admit I drink this for the flavor and the health benefits are a bonus.  Ginger tea is warming.  It is like a cozy blanket wrapped around you.  It is also good for upset tummies.  And chi tea with all of its warming spices is just divine.
     For sinus issues I love my netti pot.  I find the dry air dries out my sinuses.  I feel blocked up like I have rubber cement in my nose.   Left like this it can cause me headaches or an infection.  Using the netti pot at the first sign of this flushes the sinuses and feels great. It is a weird feeling to get used to at first but well worth it.  Your netti pot should come with instructions.  Basically you are pouring a warm saline solution in one nostril and letting it flow out the other.  The key is to breath through your mouth during the entire process.  On really dry days  I add a little slippery elm bark to some water and let it sit for a few minutes.  I then strain the solution really well and add it to the saline solution.  Slippery elm is very mucilaginous and will moisturize the passages.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Kitchen Play

     I'm on vacation from my corporate job.  And I can think of nothing better than puttering in the kitchen and catching up with friends and family.  My first day off I baked six batches of cookies which seem to be disappearing quickly.  Today I devoted to restocking products and trying new twists.
     I started with two batches of soap.  The first batch is a customer favorite lavender & lime and the second batch is my hubby's favorite, lemongrass.  In the coming week I plan to add  a few more batches to the mix.  Toner was made and bottled and then came lip balm.  I made a fresh batch of lavender lip balm.  It has become the most requested scent. Besides organic lavender essential oil it contains Vitamin E and organic carrot seed oil which is great for the skin and leaves your lips feeling oh so pleased.
     Bee's Knees was next. It's from a recipe I found to recreate that famous bees lip balm. The first time I tried it I made a half batch to see if I liked it.  It was so I good I made a full batch today. It is a lush lip balm made with cocoa butter, organic coconut oil, and organic peppermint and rosemary essential oils.
     Today I experimented with deodorant. I just made one tube to see if I like it.  I had purchased an artisans deodorant on vacation that was scented with rosemary and lavender.  I really liked the addition of rosemary so I combined it with sweet orange for my trial run.  The combination tickled my fancy so I made a tiny batch of lip balm with sweet orange and rosemary as well.  Yum!

Sunday, December 1, 2013



    Yesterday I was at the Spirit of Giving:Marketplace 2013.  It was my first time on the selling side of a table at a craft fair since I was a little girl helping my Auntie in the kitchen at the church fairs.  It was a long day but seemed to fly by.  I was there bright and early to set up.  It didn't take long so I spent the next couple of hours visiting and helping friends bring in their beautiful creations.  Jody from Gifts of a Lesser Goddess, Dawn of Dawn Hill Designs, and Allie from Silver Moon Herbals.  I was set up next to Beeyoutiful Bows and More.  The owner was a delight and her creations made me wish for a minute that my girls were little again.
     I was truly blessed to have my mother and father-in-love as well as my brother and sister-in-love come down to support me.  It was a two hour drive for them so it really was an act of love that I deeply appreciate.  Friends came by as well and I met many new people.  It was a great day.  I had fun talking to everyone and hope everyone enjoys the products and love that went into them.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Soup's On with Astragalus

     It’s that time of year; the weather is changing, everyone we come in contact with is sniffling and hacking and we are indoors more where the air is stagnant and germs fester.  It is also the time of year to simmer big pots of soup, stew, and other hearty fare.  This is the time of year my family sits down at the table with a bowl in the center and I tell them what roots and herbs to look for and discard into that bowl.  Bay leaves are a common such herb.  I have friends that only include one bay leaf in their spaghetti sauce and the unfortunate finder does the dishes that night.  We have a system in place to prevent that; I cook, we all load the dishwasher, my hubby washes the pots and my daughter much to her chagrin empties the dishwasher and sink of the clean dishes so I can add lots of good things to my cooking. Bay leaf, reishi mushrooms and my favorite astragalus root go in everything that simmers for any length of time. Garlic, onions, ginger and turmeric make very frequent appearances.
      I learned about astragalus when I was first learning about herbs and was enchanted.   I use them as an immune tonic in cooking.  They are slightly sweet tasting but you will not detect a flavor when cooked with other foods.  They are a slightly warming herb. They help prevent colds, influenza, bronchitis, pneumonia and other such viruses.  They are my alternative to a flu shot. I will not say not to get a flu shot if you have made a conscious choice and feel comfortable with it.  I have chosen not to for myself and my family. 
            Astragalus membranaceua is part of the pea family.  The root is harvested in autumn from four year old plants.  It is sliced and dried.  It is often referred to as a tongue depressor from the shape after slicing.  You can also find it sliced in small rounds but this is really hard to detect until you have it in your mouth.  It’s a root so it is fiberous and difficult to chew. Many use it to stir their tea, keeping the root in the tea and using it repeatedly. These methods work great as an immune tonic.  For other medicinal purposes a tincture of the root or a decoction should be made.
 The Chinese refer to astragalus as Huang Qi meaning Yellow Leader.  The healthy roots are yellow in color and it is a leader in tonic herbs.  It is thought of as a spleen tonic, and can be used for lack of appetite, organ prolapse, fatigue, and wasting and thirsting syndrome.  Astragalus strengthens the lung qi and, because the lungs help create wei qi; it is able to strengthen this qi. Wei qi is the protective energy that helps prevent illness caused by external pernicious influences.  When the wei qi is deficient, people can get sick more easily, sweat too much or not enough, and develop sores that won’t come to a head.  In addition, by strengthening the wei qi, this herb reduces excessive sweating, menopausal sweating, and night sweats and promotes suppuration of boils and carbuncles.[1]
American research has focused on the ability of astragalus to restore normal immune function in cancer patients.  Clinical evidence suggests that patients under going chemotherapy or radiotherapy recover faster and live longer if given astragalus concurrently.[2]

[1] Winson, David and Steven Maimes. Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2007. pg. 147-149

[2] Chevallier, Andrew. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine: The Definitive Reference to 550 Herbs and Remedies for Common Ailments. New York: A Dorling Kindersley Book, 1996. pg. 68

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Holiday Market Place

   Spirit of Giving:
Holiday Marketplace 2013

Saturday, November 30
10 am to 4 pm
61 Echo Lake Road, Watertown, CT

Join us as we celebrate Small Business Saturday.
All original work by local artists and artisans.
A great opportunity for all your holiday shopping needs

      I'm so excited!!!!! I'm getting ready for my first craft fair.  I will be joining many local artists and artisans at the Spirit of Giving: Holiday Market Place in Watertown, CT, on November 30. A table, tablecloth and display dishes are all ready.  A beautiful shelf was sanded and painted by my amazing hubby.  Products have been lovingly formed, bottled, wrapped and labeled.  New business cards and brochures printed.
     I have new lip balms to show case.  Besides my lavender lip balm and orange & clove I now have Bee's Knees ( a rip on that other Bee featuring mint and rosemary) and chocolate mint.  They not only smell great but make your lips moist and soft.  A great stocking stuffer or special treat.  I hate carrying them so I have a tube every where I could possibly think of - my vanity, my bedside table, office drawer, and in my car.
     I have a new treat as well, cuticle salve.  It is perfect for  winter and easy to use.  It comes in a handy tube.  Instead of digging into a tin of salve you can just wipe it on.  It works great on dry cracked heals and can double as a lip balm.
     Plus soap in a generous six ounce bar, lotions, toner, vanilla sugar scrub and cleanser.  Everything you and your friends need for beautiful skin.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Exfoliating Cleanser

     Daylight savings time has come again.  My body did not recognize this arbitrary change and so I was awake in the wee hours of the morning.  Sometime before 5. Not one clock in my house agrees with another so I am not really sure.  So, with those luxurious quiet hours I made a batch of cleanser.  It is a recipe I adapted of Rosemary Gladstar's miracle grains.  She gives the recipe in her book Rosemary Gladstar's Family Herbal (now published as Rosemary Gladstar's Recipes for Vibrant Health).  What I love is that you could actually eat your cleanser.  It wouldn't taste very good but you could eat it.  That's what I want to put on my skin.  Something safe enough to eat.  Something not filled with ingredients I can not pronounce.  Something that makes my skin look and feel great.

     This cleanser exfoliates with the addition of ground almonds and poppy seeds.  It calms the skin with oatmeal, lavender blossoms and calendula flowers.  It is bound together with kaolin clay.  A little bit mixed with water is a great cleanser.  Letting it dry on the skin makes for a quick mask.  Mix a spoonful with honey and now you have a moisturizing mask.  You don't want to add wet ingredients to the mix until you are ready to use it or it will grow green fuzzy sweaters as my auntie would say.  I use it at night followed by a generous dose of my face & body lotion.  My daughter uses it sporadically depending on her skin.  She finds a light mask helps her when she breaks out.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Bliss Balls

     In September I took a class offered by the Connecticut Herb Association (CHA) that Guido Mase was teaching on making medicine.  Guido taught one weekend during my advanced herbal studies and I was eager to glean more nuggets of wisdom he may have to offer.  That day he made bliss balls, fire cider and an herbal decongestant tincture.  The recipes can be found on his blog A Radicle Guido Mase.
     This morning I made my version of his bliss balls or balls of bliss as they were aptly named that day.  When we made them in class we used 2 Tbsp of maple syrup.  This was not sweet enough for my family - plenty for me.  Though I think the molasses was an unexpected taste for my brood.  I love them.  And this is an awesome way for people to take herbs that may be put off by a tea or tincture.  It's like eating candy or truffles. The herbs used are great for boosting the immune system.  I use both of them in a whole form (as opposed to powdered) in my winter soups, stews or anything that is simmered for any length of time.

     Here is my recipe:

Bliss Balls:
16 oz jar natural peanut butter (just peanuts and salt)
1 cup molasses
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 cups raw cacao powder
4 Tbsp. reishi powder
4 Tbsp astragalus root powder
unsweetened coconut flakes to roll them in

Mix peanut butter, molasses and maple syrup together.  Add the herbs and mix well.  Add the cacao powder and mix well.  I used a small scoop (1 1/4" across) and then rolled into balls and then rolled in the coconut.  This made 64 balls of bliss.  Three a day would be a serving.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


      Calendula officinalis is a beautiful garden addition.  It is sometimes called pot marigold but this not to be confused with the many marigold annuals sold each year.  The flowers are used fresh or dried and are one of the best herbs for treating local skin problems.  They can be used where there is inflammation on the skin whether it is due to infection or physical damage.  They can be used on wounds, bruises or strains.  they also benefit slow-healing wounds and skin ulcers,  And they can treat minor burns and scalds where treatment may be with a lotion, a poultice or compress. Because of their affinity for the skin I use them in making my lip balm and cleansing grains.  I recently made a batch of salve for a friend.  She has a scar from surgery and wanted something healing to apply.  It is luscious.  It is great on dry chapped skin, as a cuticle treatment or as part of a first aid kit.  This salve is now part of my offerings.
     Internally calendula can aid digestive inflammation or ulcers. They can be used in the relief of gallbladder complaints and many vague digestive complaints called indigestion.  Calendula is anti-fungal and can be used internally and externally to combat such infections. I would brew calendula as a tea for internal use.
      Calendula can be applied externally to improve lymphatic drainage from wounds and is bacteriostatic meaning that it will not kill bacteria but prevent the extension of infection. It works well with people who are "bone weary."
     Calendula is a great addition to soups in the winter as they warm and protect against wind and chill. Petals can be sprinkled on top of salads to add color as well as health benefits. The possibilities are endless.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Toner and Sugar Scrub

     Fall is the season I come alive both figuratively and literally.  I was born in October in the wee hours of the morning.  It seems to have set the pattern for my life. I am a morning person.  I wake early and create what I need to before most people (or most people in my house) are awake.  That may be cleaning, cooking, medicine or beauty products.
     Saturday morning I was up making a fresh batch of toner and vanilla sugar scrub.  For the toner calendula flowers need to steep in hot water a few hours.  The water is deeply colored from the orange blossoms.  I mix it with witch hazel.  I use this daily as part of my beauty routine.

     The sugar scrub is a combination of coconut oil and sugar.  I usually add a few drops of essential oil but this time I used vanilla sugar.  Any time I use vanilla beans I take the pods and stick them in a jar of sugar.  This infuses the sugar with flavor and a heavenly scent.  I often use this in cooking for added flavor.  In one of those middle of the night inspirations I thought to put it in the sugar scrub.  Yum!  It smells divine.  The sugar makes it a gentle exfoliater as opposed to a salt scrub.  It can be used any where on the body.  I'd use a little caution on the face though I tend not to use it there.  Friends who have tried the sugar scrub have come up with additional uses. I have one friend who uses it on her bikini line after shaving to prevent those little red bumps.  I must say I was skeptical at first but it really does the job.  Another uses the scrub on his dry itchy psoriasis patches.

      I also started three batches of tincture.  These will be steeped for six weeks and are part of a menopausal formula.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Autumn Olive

Last year my hubby mentioned we had to small trees growing on the bank of our front yard.  He thought our crabapple had spread its wings.  This year as they grew it was obvious they were not crabapples but some other fruit barring tree. One I was unsure of but soon discovered was an Autumn Olive. By this time I had already popped a berry or two in mouth and determined they were pretty good.  They weren’t completely red at this point. It’s an invasive plant I was told.  Now, I knew where to look.  I pulled out my book Invasive Plant Medicine by Timothy Scott and there he was. Steve Brill’s name kept popping up as well.
Elaeagnus umbellate meaning sacred olive tree is from the Greek elaia (olive tree) and agnos (sacred).  The tree originates in China, Korea and Japan and was brought to the United States in the 1800s along with the Russian Olive as a supplemental food source, ornamental use, as a fast growing wind break and as a nitrogen fixing crop.  The Autumn Olive is found throughout  the eastern half of the United States and the Russian Olive is found more in the central and Western United States. 
In Traditional Chinese Medicine the stems and leaves are considered bland, cool and associated with the liver. They dispel wind and dampness, reduce swelling and stagnation. In Western Medicine the fruit is considered antimicrobial and an antioxidant.  The berries contains vitamins A, B1, B2, C, and E, beta-carotene, lycopene, boran, calcium, carbohydrates, protein, chromium, copper, fat, fiber, folic acid, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, tryptophan, and zinc. The lycopene levels are up to 17 times more abundant than in raw tomatoes.  Research has been done in use with cancer.  A USDA study has shown the berries inhibit the proliferation of human leukemia cancer cells and human lung epithelial cancer cells.
As a food the berries can be made into jams, jellies, and preserves, made into fruit leather, or cooked with other foods.  In Asia an alcoholic beverage is made from them.  This year our trees are loaded with berries. I read that when they are completely ripe you can run your fingers over the berries and they will drop right into your bowl.  This morning I tested that theory and harvested 16 cups of berries in about 15 minutes. Leaves came with the berries as I rolled them off the stem and into my bowl.  Tapping the bowl gently brought the leaves to the top and were easy to pick out once I was done collecting what I needed. I left plenty for the birds and animals and a few more harvests.  From the grasses matted down in front of the tree I believe Mama Bear is enjoying the fruit.
The berries are the size of a small blueberry.  They grow in clusters.  They start out green and turn a deep red.  Today’s harvest was mixed with some orange juice, cinnamon, clove and honey and cooked into a jam. It was my own variation of one of Steve Brill’s recipes.  I then ran it through the food mill to get rid of the seeds.  I ended it up with 7 cups of jam canned and ready to enjoy later.  I have a half jar to enjoy today with supper.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Lip Balm

     I remember making pomanders as a kid.  A bowl full of whole cloves, an orange and some ribbon for hanging it was such an easy craft and smelled so good. It was a simple gift for a child to make and give.

     I read a recipe recently for a lip balm using that same scent combination.  I ran with the idea using "my" recipe and organic essential oils of sweet orange and clove.  It smells yummy.  And the vitamin E and carrot seed essential oil make it oh so good for your lips. I can't think of a better way to celebrate the coming of autumn.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Why I do what I do

Why did I become an herbalist?  How could I not?  It really was a long time coming.  I love to learn.  Most people read a book or take a class when they are curious – I usually get a degree.  Life changed and I couldn’t afford to keep going to school for the fun of it and I started taking classes here and there.  Several were classes on herbs and I loved them.  It fascinated me that I could step out my door and pick a few weeds and heal myself.
This brought me back to childhood.  I remember my grandpa pointing out different plants in the woods behind our house that were good to eat.  I love pointing those same plants out to people on hikes.  Grandpa also had a huge garden.  He had the regular lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and summer squash but he also had peas, beans, and parsnips among many other things.  It was great.
And grandma was a nurse.  She was forced into retirement before I was born but her passion filled her.  She was a healer.  She hoped I would follow in her footsteps.  I have in so many ways.  And her maiden name was Weed.  I dedicate my materia medica to her.
The doll my Grandma bought me as a little girl.

So, I started on this path of learning the weeds, the plants and their healing properties.  And then I became a Mom of four.  I fell in love with a man with full custody of his four children.  I was involved while we were dating but took on full responsibility at our wedding and beyond.  I even said vows to them on our wedding day.
I was determined to feed them well and to feed them nutritiously.  I learned a lot on that journey.  Busted a few preconceived notions that I had about healthy along the way.  They went from missing days and weeks of school to having perfect attendance.  A cup of tea became the first line of defense at the onset of something.  Immune boosting herbs were simmered in soups and spaghetti sauce.  We would sit down together every night for supper and I would start by telling them how many bay leaves and astragalus roots to beware of. I love to cook and garlic and onions are my go to.  Herbs of all kind are mixed in with our food.  Eating healthy is eating well.
I took formal classes with Rosemari Roast of Walk in the Woods.  I took informal classes every chance I got.  I read book after book after book.  I love to read books that require a highlighter so this was and is fun for me.  She introduced me to the New England Women’s Herbal Conference and I have not missed one yet soaking up everything I could.  I bring my daughter’s with me as well.  I have attended a few International Herb Symposiums and I mustered the courage to attend the Advanced Herbal Class at Sage Mountain Retreat Center headed by Rosemary Gladstar.  I have met many wonderful people, teachers and mentors along the way.  With their support I opened my business.  I wanted to expand my gifts beyond my family and into my community.
To combine my love of cooking and nurturing people with the herbs and healing is a joy I can’t even describe. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Soap Making Class

Sunday, September 22 at 10:00 AM
21 Miner Lane, Barkhamsted, CT

I am offering a fun filled hands on demonstration of soap making. You will help create a batch of soap teaching you the skills to make soap at home. I will provide you with the recipe, a bar of soap, and a list of resources and suppliers. Space is limited to ten so sign up by calling, e-mailing or leaving a message at my facebook page by September 15.
Class runs one to two hours.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Goldenrod or Solidago

Goldenrod is the yellow beauty of August and September.  She has shot up unnoticed and now is just starting to bloom.  Her brilliant gold catches the eye.  She has been misaligned by many.  They believe she causes their allergy symptoms.  It is not so.  She can actually be used to alleviate them.  It is the rag weed that flings its pollen into the air that usually causes the allergies.  To have Goldenrod’s pollen assault your being you would have to stick your nose into her gorgeous blooms and breathe her in.
There are many varieties of Goldenrod in North America.  Solidago virgaurea and Solidago canadensis bare the most common.  Some have their preference in which variety they use.  Most find them interchangeable.  I refer to her most often as Solidago.  For me the name conjures Sol or sun or soul.  As many things are starting to fade in the garden she is just coming into her own.  This represents one of her healing qualities a kidney or chi deficiency. It is an emotional state. In this case it used when you have a lack of endurance, a lack of strength to persevere through difficulty, an inability to process what is necessary to get to the end. Matthew Wood states that it can be a “covenants broken” frame of mind.  A tea made from the flowers and leaves sipped for a few days should help.
Solidago actually comes from the Latin solidus + agere meaning “causes to solidify, or bring together” the lips of a wound.  It was once used effectively as a wound healer.  Today it is used for her affinity with the kidneys.  She is used for all types of urinary tract disorders including kidney and gall bladder stones.  She works great for hay fever and cat allergies where there is congestion, sneezing, running of the nose and red eyes.  She can be used for upper respiratory congestion and sore throats.  She can be effective against Candida fungus that cause yeast infections and thrush.  She also is a feminine aid for menstrual cramps, excessive bleeding and diarrhea.
Solidago, Goldenrod is worth spending the time to get to know better. Pick a bouquet.  Steep her leaves and blossoms and sip her healing sunshine into your being. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Vitex agnus-castus

One of the first plants I became intimate with is Vitex or chaste berry.  I was first learning about herbs (or should I say remembering what was deep in my bones) when I started to experience excruciating pain each month.  It turns out I had ovarian cysts that grew each month with my cycle and were determined on letting me know where my ovaries were in my body.  The doctors of course wanted to put me on birth control pills to stop the cycle and the pain.  I said no.
Knowing what I was dealing with I was sure I could fix the problem naturally.  I had heard about Vitex agnus-castus and was willing to give it a try.  It was said to take up to three months to show results.  I could handle that.  I didn’t want to take pharmaceuticals if I didn’t have to.  I had been on the pill for years as it seemed the easiest option for birth control for me.  It worked.  But, not needing to use birth control any more thanks to my dear hubby I was free to go without medication.  For me a half dropper of tincture every morning worked like a charm.  The cysts went away.  Every so often I feel a twinge but I can live with that.  And it is only once or twice a year.
As I became familiar with Vitex I learned a lot about her qualities.  She is known as a reproductive tonic. She has the effect of stimulating and normalizing pituitary gland functions, especially in progesterone function.  She normalizes or balances female sex hormones.  This makes her an ally to women of all ages.  Both my daughters have found her helpful in their teen years when their menstrual cycles were finding their rhythm. They have experienced fewer cramps, lighter periods and less acne once taking Vitex.  Prior to taking Vitex they had very heavy painful periods.  She can also be beneficial during menopausal changes.  She can aid your body in regaining hormonal balance after the use of birth control pills.  She can increase breast milk production.  She can shorten long periods and lengthen short periods.
It is her fruit that we use as medicine.  Her dark berries are picked when ripe in the late fall and dried.  The berries can then be made into a tincture or an infusion.  An infusion is what I refer to as a strong tea – hot water is poured over the berries and steeped for 15 to 20 minutes.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

St. John's Wort

Look who showed up. Hypericum perforatum in all his glory came to the party. I was told that you could plant St John’s Wort in your garden and that he might even grow for a season but, he may or may not return.  And if he returns to your garden it will be in a completely different spot than the year before.  So, I have admired him from afar.  I have looked for him when hiking and traveling but he has remained elusive until this year. 
On a walk to the backyard to hang the laundry I spotted him.  I was shocked that this beautiful yellow flowering plant had escaped my husband and the weed whacker.  And then when I came closer I realized that I had a special visitor to my garden. I thanked him for coming and told him he was welcome to stay and multiply. And then I quickly grabbed my hubby and threatened him and his weed whacker if he ventured too near. 
My one visitor is not enough to harvest only admire. But, I found an untouched patch near home. I asked if I could take their beautiful blossoms for oil.  They kindly agreed.  I came home with a beautiful bouquet that I meticulously dismantled.  The blossoms went in a mason jar and were covered in olive oil.  The yellow blossoms turned the oil a beautiful red.  This will be strained in a few weeks and bottled in an amber bottle.  Some of the oil will find its way into a salve.
St John’s Wort is often thought of for depression and this has validity but today I want to focus on the reason I picked and infused this flower in oil.  It is great topically for nerve and joint pain.  It can be used for small abrasions, bug bites and burns.  It is anti-inflammatory and helps when used on strains and sprains. For those days you have worked a little too hard in the garden (or on that hike) a gentle massage with some St John’s Wort oil is heavenly.  I keep a small bottle in my first aid kit. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What's in a name?

You may wonder where the name Raven’s Edge came from.  When I first learned to make soap I wanted a label.  The label would list the ingredients, the scent and the date I made it.  All this was useful information.  But, what is a label without a name.  So, as I pondered what I would call my soap I thought about life around me.

I love watching the birds in my yard.  I have planted many flowers and trees to attract them to my yard.  I do not put out seed as this attracts the bears in the area.  I don’t mind the bears wandering through the yard as they often do I would rather they not stop for extended periods of time.  Crow frequently visits.  I love watching him walk across the yard.  So I took my attraction to crow and named it after his larger cousin the raven.

I live on a hill and over look the valley below.  It is a beautiful view of green, of trees and hills.  I can watch the storms roll in from the West.  I am amazed by the fog that lingers in the valley and the blue sky I see above it.  This hill became a mountain in my mind.   My perch became the edge of that mountain.

In the print program I was using I could not find an image of raven but several images for crow came up.  This whimsical image is the one I chose to represent me and my manifestations.