30 Day Mindfulness Project

30 day mindfulness project

 

 

In today’s world of multi-tasking, over-committing, and being constantly on the go from one thing to another, we need to slow our pace. In my self-realization that I needed to stop and focus on each moment as it comes, I started making a list of all the this that I want to do in a day. I started thinking about all the ways I wished to improve my day to day life, but for some reason, couldn’t fit any of it in. With this I realized that I waste a lot of time. Whether on social media or just being stuck trying to figure out what to do next-I was  A-not spending my time wisely and B-allowing the day to slip by without paying attention to anything that I experienced.  Out of this frustration came this project.

I invite you to join me in my journey. It’s not hard, I promise! Starting July 1st, I will send out an email every day with 1 mindful activity. Each activity will be in one of four categories: body, mind, soul, and home. It could be as easy as “drink a cup of tea.” Simple, right? But remember-make it mindful and intentional. Or, it can be a little more challenging for some like “spend the entire day without electronics.”

The second part of this project will be to document your activity with a picture and post it on your social media. I really want this idea to spread and get more people to think about how they live day to day and start living their lives on purpose-with purpose. We will use the tags #30daysofmindfulness or #30daysofmindfulnessproject and whatever other tags you would like to add! Have fun and be creative with it!

To join, please click the link below. We’ll be getting started in a few days!

Sign up here

The Herbalist’s Kitchen…Part One: The Equipment!

herbalist's kitchen part one

Ever wonder what exactly goes on inside the home of an herbalist? Chances are, her kitchen doesn’t look that much different than yours. There might be a few subtle differences-some hanging herbs, fermented foods, unknown concoctions in fridge, herbs simmering on the stove, and mason jars-oh, the mason jars! Any herbalist worth her salt will have a cabinet full of them.

Here are my ‘must haves’ in my kitchen:

  • Double Boiler-This is really important if you are interested in making salves and fast infusing oils. You don’t ever want your heat source to directly heat your oils and waxes. Mine is a vintage enamel pot from the 30’s. 90% of my kitchen equipment comes from a thrift store. It is a great resource!
  • Slow Cooker-This is another device used to quickly infuse oils. I like to just let my oils infuse over time, but sometimes I need something sooner, so a mason jar in a water bath in a slow cooker does the trick.
  • Mortar and Pestle-I really enjoy the meditative process of manually masticating my herbs rather than using an electric grinder. The thought of adding mechanical energy to my herbs doesn’t appeal to me, but a lot of people like the efficiency of a coffee grinder.
  • Tea Kettle-This is a must for obvious reasons.
  • Strainer-I just use a plain ol’ wire mesh kitchen strainer to strain my tinctures, infused oils, and teas. Nothing fancy here.
  • Cheese cloth-A lot of times, small particulates of herbs get through the strainer. So, I line it with cheese cloth and then squeeze the remnants out. You can also use thin muslin that can be reused after washing.
  • Measuring cups-I always use either Pyrex or Anchor Hocking brand glass measuring cups. They are heavy duty, and you don’t need to worry about plastic degrading or metal interacting. I also buy these at the thrift store.
  • Various sizes of bottles and jars-You’ll need all the mason jars for steeping your teas, percolating your tinctures and vinegars (NEVER use plastic or metal-only glass), storing herbs, drinking glasses, etc. I also think investing in some good amber bottles, glass droppers, jars for salves, etc is a good idea.

What do you have in your kitchen? Do you like to play with herbs? Next time, we’ll talk about basic herbs to keep on hand in your kitchen without spending a fortune.

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging and social media activities, I may  receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this article. However, I only recommend products or services that are in line with my personal and professional ethics and standards. 

Kid Friendly Herbal Tea…Peace Berry Blast…

peace berry blast

 

If your kids are anything like mine, they really balk at drinking herbal teas. They just aren’t as sweet as daddy’s tea (Southern Sweet Tea). Well, I was tired of fighting with them, so I made up a tea blend that looks like a “fruit” flavored drink and tastes like a fruity minty tea. Unbeknownst to them, it is chocked full of herbal goodness. It have tons of vitamins and minerals, is refreshing and good for your immune system.

Ingredients:

  • Red Raspberry Leaf-rich in iron, calcium, and Vitamin E
  • Stinging Nettle Leaf-a great source of iron, calcium, Vitamin A, and chlorophyll
  • Hibiscus-Provides the brilliant red color. Great for upper respiratory health, heart and circulatory health, and contains vitamins A, C, and iron.
  • Rosehips-TONS of Vitamin C! Great for a healthy immune system.
  • Orange Peel-Vitamin C, evens out the herby flavor
  • Peppermint Leaf-anti-oxidant, good for digestive and respiratory health
  • Stevia Leaf-Just a pinch is added to sweeten it up a little bit. This is real whole stevia leaf. No extracts or processed mess here!

If you would like to try to make it yourself, it’s fairly easy. I use equal parts everything, but a pinch of peppermint and stevia. Steep about 1/2 ounce (wt.) in boiling water for about 10-15 minutes. Longer if you’d like. Shorter if you’d like. Strain. Put in a gallon container and fill with ice and water. Voila!

I get my herbs from either Mountain Rose Herbs or Bulk Herb Store. Or, if you don’t want to bother buying pounds of herbs, you can pick up an ounce or two of the tea blend at my Etsy shop!

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging and social media activities, I may  receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this article. However, I only recommend products or services that are in line with my personal and professional ethics and standards. 

Beat Springtime ALLERGIES at Home, Naturally.

springallergy

It’s that time again…the earth is coming back to life-flowers and trees blooming, grass is growing green again, birds are chirping, and a cloud of pollen rolls across the land. The temperature is nice enough that you want to open your windows, but a few minutes into it, and you are sneezing, coughing, and your eyes are definitely revolting.

Over-the-counter allergy medicines come with some pretty unpleasant side-effects like drowsiness, dizziness, constipation, lower milk supply in breastfeeding mothers,  dry mouth, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, and more.  I know when I felt like they were my only option many years ago, even the non-drowsy medications would knock me out-and most didn’t even really work on my allergy symptoms!

Let’s start at the root of the problem. Why do we have seasonal allergies? How are so many people allergic to nature? Didn’t humans used to be outdoors much more so than they are now? What the heck did they do before antihistamines???

“Allergy symptoms are caused by an overactive immune system. Your immune system produces substances known as antibodies that protect you from unwanted invaders that could make you sick or cause an infection.

When you have allergies, your immune system is producing antibodies in response to exposure to things like pollen, dust, or pet dander that it perceives as harmful, even though they aren’t.

It’s not the exposure to allergens that are the root cause of your allergies, it’s your body’s overreaction causing the cascade of allergic symptoms.”  –Deane Alban, Natural News

So, it seems the most important thing that we should be doing is working on our immune system so it responds properly. But, that is a long and ongoing process. In the meantime, here are a few things that you can do to lessen your symptoms and help you through the onslaught of histamines.

Local Raw Honey  This is one of the most well known natural remedies for seasonal allergies. Local raw honey has traces of local pollen. So, the theory is that by consuming it daily throughout the year, your body is acclimated to the pollen. That way, when we are inundated with it in the spring (or fall), our bodies don’t revolt. By local I mean LOCAL. You really need to find honey that is within a 10 mile radius of where you live. Check your local Farmers’ Market; if you can’t find any there, chances are someone there will point you in the right direction. If you really can’t find ANY around, a friend of mine let me in on a little trick she discovered. She washed her car really well in the spring and allowed a good coating of pollen to accumulate. Here in the South, that takes about a day. Then, she swiped a good finger-full of pollen off her car and ate it! Sort of like a pollen-inoculation. She swears by it. Maybe have a glass of water nearby…

Apple Cider Vinegar Apple Cider Vinegar is another one of those things that we hear a lot about as a cure-all magic pill. Well, that’s because it really does help with so many things! It helps lessen the severity of your symptoms and also strengthens your immune system so over time, you won’t be affected as badly. Make sure that your vinegar has the ‘mother’ in it. That is very important.  I suggested taking a tablespoon or 2 a day mixed with some raw honey in a glass of warm water as a daily tonic. 

Herbs! Of course we knew that one was coming. While I have used honey and apple cider vinegar on a regular basis for 10+ years, nothing has come close to the relief I have found with my beloved herbs. It really is amazing how fast and effective they are. My top herbs for allergy relief are stinging nettle leaf and goldenrod.  Both are a component in my Allergy Support Tincture, and nettles are one of the main herbs in my allergy tea. I prefer to use goldenrod as an antihistamine and nettles as more of a daily support. I drink nettles infusions several times a week, and they have lessened my reactions tremendously, but sometimes I really need something extra, so I will take a few droppers full of goldenrod tincture and my symptoms go away fairly quickly. And the great thing is there are no yucky side effects! 

Do you have seasonal allergies? What have you found to be helpful to control them?

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging and social media activities, I may  receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this article. However, I only recommend products or services that are in line with my personal and professional ethics and standards. 

Make Your Own Black Drawing Salve

salve blavk

Black salve is a must have for any natural medicine cabinet. It is great to keep on hand for all sorts of ailments.  Now, this is not to be confused with the traditional black salve made with blood root that is purported to cure cancer. This is a MUCH milder and safer version. We use it for things like: cysts, boils, acne, splinters, and bug bites.

The key is to use ingredients that are astringent or ‘pulling’. I start with a base of plantain infused olive oil. Plantain itself is very astringent. I use fresh plantain poultices on bites and splinters to draw out. Then, I add bentonite clay and activated charcoal. The bentonite clay is also very drawing, and the charcoal traps and removes any bacteria. I also add a bit of raw honey for its healing properties as well.

black salve2Here’s my recipe:

3 ounces of Plantain-infused Organic Olive Oil

1 ounce of Beeswax

2 Tablespoons of Bentonite Clay

2 Tablespoons of Activated Charcoal

1 Tablespoon of Raw Honey

Heat infused oil and beeswax together in a double boiler until wax is melted. Stir in clay, charcoal, and honey until smooth. Quickly transfer to storage container-preferably a glass jar, though some use metal tins.

Don’t have time or energy to make your own? Head on over to my etsy shop and pick up a jar today! Or, comment below for a chance to win a 2 ounce jar!  A winner has been selected! Thanks for all who have commented.

WEHswirl

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging and social media activities, I may  receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this article. However, I only recommend products or services that are in line with my personal and professional ethics and standards. 

DIY Herbal All-Purpose Cleaner

diy cleaner title pic

Surely by now most people have either seen the orange peel in vinegar method of creating a natural kitchen cleaner. There may even be a few recipes that call for adding in essential oils to give it even that much more of a antimicrobial kick.  Well, yes-this is a bit similar. I’ve taken the basic idea of orange peels in vinegar and doctored it up a bit.

I tend to like to stay away from using essential oils because while I have studied herbalism for several years, I have not spent one dime on any aromatherapy courses.  I strongly feel that essential oils are VASTLY over used-and by people who do NOT know how to safely use them.  So, this recipe has taken the idea of the essential oils of certain plants and incorporated the use of the whole plant instead.

Ingredients:

  • Orange peels
  • Whole cloves
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Fresh lavender
  • Distilled white vinegar

The recipe is a simple as you would think-combine all the herbs in a large mason jar and cover with the vinegar. Let sit for 2+weeks and strain. Pour vinegar about 1/4 into a spray bottle and fill with water. Voila! You now have a great smelling, effective all-purpose cleaner that utilizes the anti-microbial properties of plants without the potential dangers of using volatile essential oils.

You can find most of these herbs locally (either grown yourself or in your grocery store) but you can also find them online at places like Mountain Rose Herbs or Bulk Herb Store.

 

WEHswirl

 

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging and social media activities, I may  receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this article. However, I only recommend products or services that are in line with my personal and professional ethics and standards. 

 

All About Violet

 

 

wild violet title picWild Violets (viola odorata) are pretty little perennials that tend to pop up in late winter/early spring (depending on where you live). Unfortunately, most people consider them to be annoying weeds. They are easily identified by their purple flowers and heart shaped leaves. Please don’t confuse them with African violets that are grown as houseplants. They are NOT the same thing.

This sweet little plant really is versatile and useful! But, before you start, you need to know a few things about wild harvesting. First, make SURE that the area that pick from isn’t sprayed by chemicals, where your dog defecates, close to the road, or any other place that you think is contaminated. Secondly, you want young and healthy growth. Look for vibrant colors. Third-you always want to ask permission from both the land owner and the plant itself. Fourth, never take more than you will use and never more than 5-10% of what is available. And lastly, always give thanks to the plant, earth, Mother Nature, God, or who/whatever you recognize as the giver of what you are taking. You should try to do your harvesting in the morning just after the dew has evaporated. Some of the ways that we will use wild violet call for fresh plant material and some require it to be dried, so make sure you save some to dry. 

Nutritional. Violets are packed full of minerals and vitamins-especially A and C. One of my favorite things to make is a wild green salad with violet leaves, blooms, dandelion greens, yellow dock, plantain, purslane, henbit, dead nettles, and cleavers. You can also saute the leaves like you would any other green. Another delicious treat is Wild Violet Lemonade. This is a great way to sneak in some extra nutrients to your kids and replace those toxic ‘fruit’ drinks they love so much.  Infused vinegar is my other go-to usage for wild violet. Vinegar is well known for its ability to extract vitamins and minerals from plant sources. Infusing vinegar is super easy. Get a clean mason jar and fill it with either violet blossoms, leaves, or both and cover with either white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Let it set in a cool dark place for 2-6 weeks. Strain and label. If you use white vinegar, try to make a batch with just blossoms-you will make a BEAUTIFUL purple vinegar! I use vinegars for all kinds of things. I flavor cooked greens with them, you can make a salad dressing with it, you can even use it as a hair rinse and a bath soak. Think of all the goodness of apple cider vinegar that you hear about-and add a power punch of nutrients with plant infusions!

10247459_728384073849329_8258624107772710316_nMedicinal. Wild violet has numerous medicinal properties. It is anti-inflammatory, helps the lymphatic system, is a blood purifier, it is a mild laxative and diuretic, a fever reducer, and supports the immune system. Making a syrup from the flowers is probably the easiest way to get your kids to reap the benefits. A syrup or tea is great for young ones who are constipated or have a fever. Simple fill a glass jar with the fresh flowers and pour boiling water over them. Allow to steep for 4 hours. Strain. You can stop here if you would like to have a cup of violet tea ( really, it’s an infusion…) or continue if you would like to turn it into a syrup. Herbal syrups are really just ways of making teas/infusions palatable for children (or those with tastebuds of children!).  Pour the infusion into a saucepan. Add equal quantities of sugar or honey and bring to a slow boil. Allow to boil for about 20 minutes or so and pour into glass jar. Store in fridge.  A great preparation for violets is in a salve or balm. It has been known to treat eczema and fibrocystic breast issues. Simply infuse dried violet leaf in an organic oil of your choice for several weeks. Strain and heat in a double boiler with a bit of beeswax. Continue to heat until wax is melted. Pour into glass jar. If it is too hard, remelt and add more oil. If it is too soft, remelt and add more wax. Tinctures are probably my favorite herbal preparation. Whenever possible, use fresh plant material. Place in clean glass jar (notice a theme here?) and cover with 100 proof alcohol (I prefer vodka, but use what you would like). LABEL! Give a good shake and place in cool dark area for 6+weeks. Give it a shake every day or so. Strain and bottle in an amber dropper bottle. Tinctures are the most effective form of herbal medicine. It is quick and easily absorbed into your blood stream. 

Just for fun! Crystallized violet blossoms and violet ice cubes! Crystallized violets are a fun garnish for baked goods and violet ice cubes would be a hit a kid’s party. Just fill an ice cube tray with the blossoms and fill with water as normal.

If you do not have access to fresh violets for some reason, you can always order them. I prefer to use Mountain Rose Herbs, but there are plenty of other herbal companies available!

WEHswirl

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging and social media activities, I may  receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this article. However, I only recommend products or services that are in line with my personal and professional ethics and standards. 

 

Ten Moons: Herbs for Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a transition. Not only for the new life that is created, but also for the woman who is becoming a mother. Whether it is her first time or her 5th, this is a sacred time for the woman to nourish and honor her body. So many women choose pregnancy as the time to start making healthier choices in their lives. They not only have themselves to worry about, but they also want to give the best possible start to their baby. It makes sense that during this momentous transformation period, the woman chooses to remove some old bad habits and learn new healthy ones that will carry on throughout her and her children’s lives.

One way that some women choose to take their health into their own hands is to save modern medicine as a last resort and use herbs and other natural remedies first. Let’s start with the most common thing that all pregnant women are encouraged to take: the prenatal vitamin. This is a gigantic horse pill that makes the average person gag, much less someone who has a sensitive stomach anyway! And how do we know exactly what we are absorbing and what is going to waste, so to speak? Pills have to travel through our digestive system, get broken down, and then some of it goes to our blood stream, and the rest goes, well, I don’t need to draw you a picture. Herbal infusions (strong teas brewed for several hours) like all liquids, get assimilated much easier and faster. So, after making sure you are eating nourishing foods-lots of proteins, healthy fats, fruits and veggies, if you drink a nice well rounded pregnancy support tea, you will be sure that your are receiving all the vitamins and minerals your body deserves. Most grocery stores sell prepackaged teas in convenient little tea bags, but how long have they actually been sitting there? My favorite way to make teas is to buy each individual herb and then blend it myself. For each cup. That way if I need a bit more of something, I can add it! For instance, if I’m low on calcium, I’ll add more nettles. Drinking 1-4 cups of tea a day not only is nourishing to your body, but to your soul.

Morning sickness is major complaint during pregnancy that many women are looking for natural ways to support. Recently, the FDA has issued a “potential safety issue” regarding using a popular anti-nausea medication. So, of course-alternatives are needed. One school of thought is that since the excess level of hormones in a women’s body during pregnancy is causing the nausea and vomiting, that helping the body process those hormones better will curb the morning sickness. One way to do that is to strengthen the liver. A very effective and gentle way is to use milk thistle seed in a tincture (herbal extract, usually in alcohol). Using milk thistle seed along with making your you are eating small frequent meals that are high in protein, and drinking your pregnancy support infusion, you should be able to reduce your morning sickness significantly.

One of the biggest constituents of most pregnancy teas is red raspberry leaf (RRL). Not only is RRL rich in iron, calcium, and vitamin E, it is a wonderful uterine tonic. Your uterus is a muscle and it needs to be nice and strong to effective birth your baby. One way to help strengthen and tone your uterus is to drink strong RRL infusions during the last month of your pregnancy. I usually would steep one ounce (in weight) of RRL in a quart of boiling water overnight. The next day, I would drink the entire quart throughout the day. This is only appropriate during the last month of pregnancy, as excess RRL can cause Braxton-Hicks contractions.

The postpartum period is a time that the mother really only needs to focus on nourishing herself so she can properly nourish her baby. She should not be hosting, cleaning, cooking, or any of those things that our society thinks women should magically be able to do! Continuing your pregnancy infusion during the postpartum period is a good idea-another idea is to have a postpartum tea that is nourishing, energizing, and soothing all at the same time (recipe below). This is wonderful to make by the gallon and drink hot or iced-great for the entire new family (except the baby)! Another great way to support your well being after birth is a bath. A blend of herbs to help facilitate healing, reduce inflammation, and encourage relaxation brewed into a bath tea is a lovely addition to any bath (during pregnancy, postpartum, menstruation, Tuesday, etc).

For women who choose to breastfeeding and are struggling with true supply issues, some herbs will help encourage milk productions. *Note: If you have a normal supply (most women) do not use herbs to increase your supply. Over supply is a real problem!  Herbs to increase milk supply: Nettles, Red Raspberry Leaf, Blessed Thistle, Fenugreek, Fennel Seed, Alfalfa, Oatstraw, Goat’s Rue (only in tincture).

Lastly, while a lot of herbs are safe and gentle, not all of them are. Some herbs are very beneficial for people who are not pregnant, but could pose a threat to a pregnancy. Some common herbs to avoid during pregnancy: pennyroyal, osha, blue cohosh, black cohosh, cottonroot, tansy, yarrow, tulsi, ephedra, valerian, mugwort, angelica, feverfew, sage, and wormwood.  Some of these listed are used by midwives to facilitate labor, so only use them under the guidance of your care provider.

Recipes

Pregnancy Tea:

  • 3 parts Red Raspberry Leaf
  • 3 parts Nettles
  • 2 parts Dandelion Leaf
  • 1 part Oatstraw
  • 1 part Alfalfa
  • 1 part Rosehips

Add one ounce of tea blend to a quart of boiling water (in a mason jar, if you have one). Cap the jar. Allow to steep for at least 30-45 minutes, preferably several hours up to overnight. Strain and sweeten as desired. Drink 1-4 cups per day.

Awesome Mama Postpartum Tea

  • 3 parts Lemon Balm
  • 3 parts Comfrey
  • 2 parts Chamomile
  • 2 parts Hibiscus
  • 1 part Rose Petals and Rose Hips
  • 1/8 part Lavender Buds

Add one ounce of tea blend to a quart of boiling water (in a mason jar, if you have one). Cap the jar. Allow to steep for at least 30-45 minutes, preferably several hours up to overnight. Strain and sweeten as desired. Drink 1-4 cups per day.

Pospartum Sitz Bath

  • 1 part St. Joan’s Wort
  • 1 part Comfrey
  • 1 part Uva Ursi
  • 1 part Calendula
  • 1 part Shepherd’s Purse
  • Yarrow

Steep one ounce of herbs in a quart of boiling water for 45 minutes. Strain (very important!! No one wants to clean herbs out of a bathtub!) and add tea to bath with sea salts.

**This article is for informational purposes only. Any advice given has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not meant to treat or diagnose. Consult your primary care provider.

Support local, Work at Home, and Small Artisan Crafters

We all know what is going on this weekend. Black Friday. Time to fight the mobs for those great deals! Right? Wrong.

This year, I would like to challenge everyone to avoid the Wal-Marts, Targets, etc. and find a wonderful local, handcrafted, work at home shop to do your holiday shopping. Spending $500 at Wal-Mart doesn’t really do much for Wal-Mart, but spending $500 at a small business means so much more! You are impacting an entire family in the most positive way!

I would like for you to take advantage of the sales going on this weekend and jump start your herbal medicine cabinet with these great deals (just click on Shop Online to go to the storefront)

  • All day Friday, all previously non-discounted items will be 25% off this includes customized gift baskets!!! Just use the coupon code: BLACK14 at checkout.
  • Saturday and Sunday, any Wellness Consultations scheduled will be 50% off IF you purchase it through the Etsy shop.
  • Monday, Free shipping ALL DAY. Use coupon code SHIPFREE at checkout.

Remember, this holiday season is about love, family, and community. What better way to express that by supporting your friends, neighbors, and other families’ businesses during this crazy weekend?

If you are a small business owner, WAHM, or independent artisan, mention your store information, website, facebook page, etc. in the comments!