Friday, July 24, 2015


I have been blessed with many teachers in my life.  Actually I think everyone is a teacher in some way and I feel blessed to recognize that in so many.  I love to learn.  I would be a full time academic student if that were a vocation. Instead I am a full time student in life - through books, nature, classes and the people that surround me.
I am reading Women Healers of the World By Holly Bellebuono at the moment and one common theme is that all the woman had been taught by their mothers and grandmothers.  My ancestors have taught me many things but not so much about the herbs.  My Grandpa had a huge garden and I learned to eat a varied and fresh diet. Food was central to family gatherings and I learned my love of cooking from my Auntie.
Over the years I picked up tidbits of information from varied sources.  My poison ivy remedy comes from an old boyfriend's grandfather, a wise old farmer.  One of my oldest and dearest friends is a master gardener and I work for her in my off time.  I am paid in plants. My garden reflects those happy moments.
Odessa (payment from Time for a Garden)
I took a soap making class in a shop located in an old gardening shed.  I took classes at a local store in many subjects including introduction to herbs as medicine.  I was hooked.  This is where I met my first formal herbal teacher and now dear friend Rose of Walk in the Woods.
I studied with her and continue to learn from her.  She is truly an inspiration.  She doesn't just talk the talk but walks her walk.  Her knowledge of plants, gardening and medicine of the people is a gift to everyone she meets.  She can be a subtle leader or in your face and nudges you to think for yourself.  She introduced me to my first New England Women's Herbal Conference. That first year we went together. It was magical being with so many like minded women learning about our plant allies and dancing by the fire.  I haven't missed a conference since.  This year we attended the International Herb Symposium together. It was her first time attending (my third).  The base she helped me develop gave me the confidence to take the advanced herbal class at Sage Mountain.
It was there I met a new tribe of women that I am blessed to call friends.  We travel many miles and to many classes and conferences where we get to see each other again.  We keep in contact in between and continue to learn and inspire each other. The circle keeps growing, spiraling and at the center is love and the plants.

Friday, July 17, 2015


     I love rosemary. It is one of my favorite herbs to cook with.  A little chopped up in marinades is a pure delight.  Not only does it taste good but it has a toning and calming effect on the digestive system. Thought to help with the breakdown of fats it is often cooked with heavier meat dishes.  It is a circulatory and nervine stimulant making it helpful for tension headaches.  Externally it can be used to ease muscle pain and sciatica.
     Added to a foot bath it encourages good circulation, dilates the blood vessels in the feet and draws the blood downward away from your head often alleviating stress headaches.  This along with a cold compress on your head often stops migraines.  Combine it with lavender, sage and hops for a wonderful foot (or bath) soak.
     Rosemary is often used in skincare recipes.  It is part of the Queen of Hungary's Water a wonderful astringent lotion that has been hailed as the first herbal product ever produced and marketed.  Rosemary combined with calendula blossoms, raspberry leaf and sage make a wonderful steam for oily skin.
     Rosemary is used to stimulate hair follicles and may be used in premature baldness.  It may not reverse the process of balding but will maintain good circulation and promote healthy hair growth.  The essential oil is is used for the treatment of dandruff.  I use rosemary as a hair rinse.
Rosemary in my garden

     Rosemary is great for darker locks and helps if you have oily hair.   For light colored hair you can substitute chamomile flowers. In the summer when I can grow rosemary (I rarely can get it to over winter even in the house though I keep trying) I will cut fresh sprigs.  In the winter I use dried rosemary to make my rinse.

Rosemary Hair Rinse
Fresh rosemary 3 to 4 stalks or a handful of dried rosemary
Organic  Live Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Rosemary newly steeping

I bring the water to a simmer and pour over the rosemary.  I let it steep for a long time (all day or overnight).  I strain out the herbs and add 1 part ACV to 3 parts rosemary infusion.  I have a quart spray bottle that I keep in the shower which makes measuring really easy.  You could add a few drops (2 to 3) of rosemary essential oil at this point if you like.  I usually don't. After shampooing and rinsing my hair I spray my hair completely with the hair rinse and rinse my hair again with water.
Rosemary Hair "Rinse"

Friday, July 3, 2015

Soap Making #Classes

Making soap
I have so much fun making soap.  It's a fairly easy process once you know how to do it.  I would love to share that knowledge with you. My next class is scheduled for September 27, 2015 starting at noon.  Or you can turn any of my studio days into a soap making class. Classes can be for one student or up to eight.  I'm in the studio on the following Sundays, September 13 and 20 and October 4, 18 and 25 from 11 to 4. If Sunday doesn't work for you I'd me more than happy to find a day that does.
Classes involve making a batch of soap together, directions and resource sheets for you to take home and a bar of soap for you to enjoy.  The fee is $25.00 per person.  Classes run between an hour and a half to two hours.  Studio 418 is located at Whiting Mills at 100 Whiting Street, Winsted, CT.  Contact me here. or leave a comment or message me on facebook.
Set up for a day of soap making