Dandelion Mead and broken fridge

dandelionmead.jpg

Once the Dandelions started flowering all around, I planned on making a dandelion mead. But, when I went out the other day to gather dandelion flowers, I also found a field full of violets, a wild patch of lemon balm, a huge amount of nettles, and a few other yumminesses. Above is a picture of the bottom of the 5 gallon that I brew my mead in (minus the nettles). Isn’t it pretty? I can’t wait to sample it!

I taught two herb classes this past week for the local school and felt completely drained. I love teaching community classes about herbalism to people who have no clue about it. Afterwards, I feel energized. But these 3 hour classes to aspiring herbalist just drain me. They make me think too much when I am teaching :-) No, seriously, I feel like I am being pulled along by this wave of people who are all doing great herbal things, but may want to be ‘bigger’ herbalists than I do. Writing books, teaching at conferences… I wouldn’t mind being known and making good money, but it’s not a goal of mine. In fact, it stresses me out. I really just want to live simply, have time for playing with my family, and to be an effective healer. If I never taught another class or wrote another article, but had enough clients to keep me happily busy, I would be good with that. But, right now, I have to teach classes and write, etc. to get my name known to build clientele. I think lot of it is that I feel like I am teaching over my head. I mean, I know my herbs and all, but I don’t know all the constituents in Pipssissewa, and I don’t know all the drug/herb interactions for people on cardiac medications. And even when I am teaching anatomy and physiology, I am definitely not an expert and sometimes don’t even feel like I should be up there teaching. I don’t know what I am trying to say here… I guess, I am just remembering the whole reason that we are on this land and building our own house, and it’s not so that I can always be elsewhere trying to make a name for myself as an herbalist. My vision to be a part time herbalist and full time mom/wife/friend/land lover has somehow gotten to fulltime+ herbalist and on occassion mom/wife and even less time for friends and time on the land. Hmmmm… something needs to change.

……..

HOLY SHIT!! The Fridge just blew off the porch!!! The weather man predicted wind gust of up to 65mph for the next 2 days… and the brand new $600 fridge just blew off the porch and landed on a concrete statue! We had 20 eggs in the fridge and now there are only 2 left! The rest are plastered all over the inside of the fridge. Broken bottles everywhere… The whole thing is dented up and the light isn’t working. So we don’t know if the light is burnt out or if the whole fridge is broken. CRAP, CRAP, CRAP!!!
The out house is blown over now too! Major CRAP!! I’m not looking forward to cleaning that one up! Things are flying all over the place and I keep having visions of the whole house tipping over! I hope the chicken coop stays put!! And I really hope the tin stays on our roof! It is really insane here right now, and a tad bit scary!!

Dreams

I have had some very vivid dreams in my life, but I have only recently started paying attention to them…

Two nights ago, I woke up to the doorbell. I sat up and looked over at Toby, who was sitting up too. I thought, “why would someone be coming out to see us at this hour??” Then I thought I heard someone opening the door and coming in. I looked back over at Toby and he had laid his head back down and was sleeping. So, I laid down and listened for a while but I didn’t hear anything more. I figured I was just hearing things. It wasn’t until the morning, when I was eating breakfast that I remembered that we don’t have a doorbell! Toby remembered none of this.

Then last night my dream was really wild!

I was somewhere outside with lots of people, and it was a damp cool night. Everyone was hanging out by the house, it was kind of like a party. I walked off into the woods/jungle, knowing I wasn’t supposed to be going to far. Very quickly I was by myself on a very peaceful, muddy, green trail. To my right side was a rocky wall with green plants and vines all over it. I walked past a beautiful blooming rose bush and thought about picking one. Then I thought maybe on the way back… Next, I saw a small red onion laying in a rocky area. It was about the size of a plum. I decided to take this instead of the rose. Then only a few feet further, there was an enormous shrine placed into the rock wall on my right. It went up about 20 feet and was covered with rose petals, red onions and other things that I can’t remember now. In the middle at the top was a statue of Mother Mary (I am not religious, so this is kind of weird for me) with a trickle of water running down this rock shrine. I saw one hole where an onion was missing and took mine and placed it on the shrine. Immediately water started flowing from the top of the wall, around all the rose petals and onions. I place my hands out and the water rushed over them. I splashed my face with the water, put it in my hair, and then drank some. It was very sweet and the smell of roses filled my body. I felt the water was a gift, telling me that now I was allowed/able to heal fully. Then, the water stopped as quickly as it started and I turned to walk on. Soon, I came to a ‘room’ on the path where the was a woman laying on her side facing away from me. I slowly approached wondering if this was a test I had to pass. I asked her if she was ok and she rolled over and told me her shoulder hurt. I place both my hands on her right shoulder and saw a ball of bright yellow light float from her body. Then I asked her if I could touch her stomach. She rolled to her back and I began massaging. I could feel that inside her uterus was up out of the pelvis and she was in immense pain. I remember her rolling around, and then I remember being surrounded by many other people while I was touching her. After that, it’s a blank…

I can’t wait to see what happens tonight!

Hitting the big time :-)

Check this out!  One of my ‘fun’ products made it into the regional paper!  This is something I put together for fun and everyone loved it.  So, I bottled it up for sale.  Someone from the paper came by last week to see if we had any cool products to feature in the paper and I gave her a bottle of this to try.  She loved it and it got front page of the ‘Living’ section!  Cool, eh?  I sound like a ditz in my quote, but I pretty much said all of it :-)  The only thing was that it says our store is located in Biltmore Village, but we aren’t.  Hopefully that won’t deter too many people from finding us!

Back in the saddle again

I’ve taken a little while to catch up after being gone last weekend! I spent 5 days in Boulder, CO at the American Herbalist’s Guild Symposium. It was fantastic!! My head was so full of information when I left that I had a hard time relaxing! The first day I went to an intensive with Rosita Arvigo and Shelley Torgove, about Maya abdominal massage for displaced uteri (is that the plural of uteruses?) Then I went to another intensive with Amanda McQuaid Crawford about Women’s Herbs. Both were outstanding, but Rosita’s left me wanting to get trained in Maya Abdominal Massage! (Uh oh, Toby… more schooling for me!)

For the next three days, I sat in talks with famous herbies like David Winston, Jonathan Treasure, Mary Bove, Aviva Romm, James Snow, Matthew Wood, Eric Yarnell, Leslie and Michael Tierra, Roy Upton, and many more. I felt like I was absorbing knowledge by just sitting there :-) I learned about Bringing Spiritual Practice into Clinical Practice, Pediatric Herbs, Eclectic Treatments for URI’s, and so much more! By the time the day was over, I wasn’t worth much and usually went back to the room to go to sleep. I did get out to see Boulder a little and enjoyed the city. It reminds me of Asheville, except it is much more brown (not a lot of lush green like I am use to).

There were 7 students from Aviva Romm’s Women’s Educator Course there. So we all got together for lunch on Sat. It was nice to finally meet Aviva in person and to meet some of the students behind the course.

On the shuttle from the hotel to the airport, I sat next to Mary Bove. We had a great time talking about cats, skiing, Eclectic herbalists, raising kids, and more. It was really neat to meet all of the people who wrote the books that I have learned a lot of my herbalism from, and whose books helped me through all of Kaia’s early illnesses.

At the airport I met up with Aviva and her family again. (Aviva’s husband, Tracy, and two of their daughters were also there. Really sweet family!) I have a great time talking with her. She is very easy-going, and she and her husband both have such warm, welcoming personalities. Oh, and they homeschooled all of their kids (they have 4), and are still alive and sane! So, I have hope :-)

Speaking of Kaia, she is loving school. Sometime, I think too much! She goes there and learns how to behave like a ‘good girl’ then comes home and rebels. She is challenging my authority left and right! That perfect little angel who we have been able to take out to restaurants since the day she was born spit water on me the last time we went out for sushi!! She is also rebelling about the potty training thing. She concentrates so hard on what she is playing with that she refuses to stop and go potty. So, she ends up going in her pants way too often. We have finally resorted to the “sticker reward chart”. Everytime she tells us that she has to go to the bathroom and doesn’t go in her pants, she gets a sticker. After 10 (or what ever number we choose) stickers, she gets a treat (preferably not candy!). It’s working fairly well so far.

What else… no eggs from the chickens so far… they are 19 weeks old…

We turned our house plans into the county and they said we need to get them stamped by a structural engineer to prove they are sound. Toby is going to meet with one on Tuesday. If all that goes well, hopefully we will have ‘approval’ to start the building process.

The storage building is done and all of our stuff is moved in. I don’t have pictures yet, but it is really cute!

Girl time

It’s been a fun filled few days! Toby is away at a wedding, so Kaia and I have taken the time alone to do anything but house projects! We have played, gone to the mall(!), snuggled up in bed and watched movies! It’s been really nice for both of us to have a little down time. I will be at the AHG symposium next week and I hope Toby takes the time for some down time too!

We did have a great find for the house though. Kaia and I visited a building that use to house a marble/granite cutting school. The school moved and left all of their granite… free for the taking. SO, we loaded up the Jetta with everything I could carry (probably enough to do a marble kitchen counter top and bathroom sink) and plan to head back there when Toby is in town so we can get the heavy stuff! There were some pieces that are 6ft by 9 ft in perfect condition! It’s just that it would take a crane to lift them and very strong truck to carry them. I can’t wait to see what this house looks like when it is done!

We tried to turn the house plans in for code approval on Thursday, but there was one paper we still needed to fill out. So, hopefully next week!

Today I attended a class on 5 phase theory and how to apply it to my clinical practice, as well as in my own life. For those of you that don’t know, 5 phase theory is Chinese based and stems from the belief that everything in this world is a part of the ‘one’. Broken into 5 non-stagnant phases there is Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal. They are all a part of us, and often times we may have imbalances in them. This class really helped me see how they all embody certain aspects of life and that they are in constant motion. Hard to explain in a blog, but really cool stuff!

A little Root with your sweets?

Kaia and I spent today preparing for next weekends “RootsFest!” that I am helping with. In celebration of the first annual National Herb Day (Oct. 14th), we (the NC chapter of the American Herbalists Guild) are putting on a festival. I am working the kids booth for a little while and wanted to do more than just have them color or something. So, I made up some Ginger syrup, “root beer” syrup, and home-made marshmallows (with Marshmallow root). I am going to let the kids try all of them and talk a little about how marshmallows, ginger-ale, and root beer all use to be made from herb roots. I thought it would be fun. I will post the recipes when I type them up.

The storage building is going up much more quickly than the cabin did. It is also a 12×16′ structure. Last weekend Toby and Eric worked on the foundation.

This weekend, Toby and his dad worked on the walls. It’s ready for the roof and siding now! Yahoo!!

Roots Festival

The herbalists here in Asheville are putting on a Roots Festival for National Herb Day on October 14th. We are making t-shirts that will say “Root Diggin’ Herbalist” on it and will have this picture (painted by one of our own!)

If anyone would like a t-shirt, let me know and I can order one for you. They are $18, and come in women’s and men’s styles and all sizes. I think they are going to look great!!!

Hey, are any of you out there going to the AHG Conference in Boulder this year??

June asked about herbal books for house pets. Juliette Levy also has one on this subject. Haven’t read it, but I would bet it is good. I also have The Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care and Dr. Pitcairn’s New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, both of which I like. There are a ton of other pet herbals out there, too.

Stella, I’m not sure what will happen after graduation. I definitely still want to do consultations. I may start by doing some at the school (you can rent out a room for $10). The only thing with that is that the rooms are made to be massage rooms, so they are dark, with no windows. So, I have been talking with a few herbie friends of mine about opening up an herbal clinic downtown… maybe having a free day once a month, and offering walk-in clinic time too. Once our main house is done, I could use some of the little house space as an office. But, I think people would be more inclined to make an appt. if they didn’t have to drive out of town.

Oh, and here is the finished outhouse. I forgot to post this picture earlier… it has been done for ~1 1/2 weeks and is going great so far. The main drawback is that I always have to get up and go pee first thing in the morning and I am too lazy to climb off of the bed, climb down the squeaky ladder, out the front door and across the yard to the outhouse. I end up trying to hold it and then when Kaia wakes up and has to go it ends up being a race to get us there! I think we are going to have to rig up an indoor system for this winter, definitely!



There is the bucket in use under the seat, and an empty bucket next to that one. Toby built a lid to fit over all of it and that lifts to take the buckets out. There is also a bucket with sawdust for covering up. We screened in the top and bottom to allow for airflow and cut down on any smells. But, so far, there have been no smells with the bucket/sawdust system! Cool, eh?
Kaia helped with the painting… can you tell?

Herb walk

My class came up to the land today for an herb walk. We identified lots of beautiful plants, but check out what we found!!

Huge Morels!!

Spotting more morels

I love this picture! Patrick is such a forest man!


And we found a little patch of baby ginseng. There should have been a mama somewhere… The land is perfect for ginseng, but I think it has been totally harvested out and is now just starting to repopulate.

Oh the homefront, we moved the bees to the land and they seem to be doing fine. We have 4 hives now! Our most active hive had to be split once because it was so full, and then it still swarmed, but we caught it!!

We hope to have all the walls and tin roof up by the end of this weekend!

The most wonderful day!

I woke up early yesterday, knowing we had a long day of building ahead of us, and went out to take a walk. I decided to walk around the land to places I hadn’t gone before. So, down the hill I go into the rhododendron area thinking, “what am I going to find here? Nothing grows around the rhododendron.” But then, the flora changed and the forest opened up and I saw her… Pink Lady Slipper! Then… I saw another! And another! (I have never found more than 9 lady slippers at one site. She was severely over harvested in the 1900’s for medicine, and has never recovered. She has a symbiotic relationship with the microbes in the soil and only grows in specific areas and is extremely hard to transplant.) So, I began bawling when my count got to over 160 lady slippers, and I decided to stop counting and just enjoy!! There were so many that I had to watch where I stepped so as not to step on them! I can’t begin to explain the feeling I had yesterday morning walking on this amazing, sacred land! I am pretty dure that I am going to change my herb consultations name from “Dandelion Forest Herbals” to Sacred Forest Botanicals”. Good thing I haven’t gotten business cards yet :-)


Anyone know what this one is??? I have heard that there are still wild, but rare, cannabis species around… and I think I have one growing in my new garden!! It sure looks and smells like it… or so I’m told :-)

Long days!

Ooooh, the last few days have been long! We are spending every spare moment up at the land… What do you think about “Dandelion Homestead”? Is that what we should call the new place?

Anyway, yesterday I got those strawberries that I bartered some herbs for… there were supposed to be ~100 of them, right?? Well, the woman who dropped them off showed up with a 55 gallon bag full of them and there had to be ~600!!! I planted 150 yesterday morning and couldn’t find any more space! I hope they take!! Yum!! (Am I using enough exclamation points for you?) T has also layed out the site for the temporary house and dug the post holes.

Anyhoo, I taught my first class at the school yesterday; Male Anatomy & Physiology for the herbalist. I think it went really well. Sometimes I felt like I was just rambling on, but everyone seemed to be paying attention and asking questions. I also brought the extra strawberries and gave them to whoever would take them!

Right after I taught my class, I sat in on an organic gardening class. We are going to get to take home seedlings from this class, so I really need to get my raised beds going. I wasn’t planning on starting a garden this year since we have so much going on with building the house, but it looks like life has other gardening plans for me :-)

Oh, and you know that class I am taking with Aviva Romm? Well, she has asked if she can use a personal story of mine in her next book. It may not happen, ’cause the book is alreay 1200 pages long, but still, isn’t that cool!

So many other things have happened in the last week, but my brain is fried, so I will go sleep first and write more later.

Sleep tight!

Full Circle Herbs, for sale?

I have been thinking of selling Full Circle Herbs for a while now. I started the business in 1999 as a way to be able to keep my hands in the herbs while I got up the guts to become a clinical herbalist. I kept it really small because I never wanted to be a business woman. But, now I am getting more into teaching and clinical herbalism and I think it may be time to let go of the business. Instead of being happy when orders come in, I dread it. My time is so busy right now that the last thing I want to be doing in my spare moment is pack up another order. I’ve actually been trying really hard to keep it very small, but it keeps growing. Last year I made $1300. I know that doesn’t seem like much, but that was without any sort of advertising. I have a website, but that’s it. I think that this business could grow very well in the right hands, I just don’t have the desire to do it. So, how do I put a price on this??
I have an established business, established clients, logo and known business name (at least locally), a kick-ass website (thanks T!), a 1-800 #, already made products, and hundreds of herbs! Any thoughts? What would you pay for something like this if you really wanted to own an herb business?

Happy weekend!

Graduation was this past week and we had sooo much fun! All the students and some of the teachers had a camp out at this great house in the boonies. We stayed up until 3am, had a lazy morning cooking and playing (I brought my hoops and got almost everyone hooked, and there was a trampoline there too) and had a wonderful ceremony. One of our teachers (she specialized in energetic herbalism) conducted a hand-fasting for each student and a chosen plant. For the next year, we are to learn more about the plant we were hand-fasted to, in every way we can. She said that when she meditated on me, Rock Rose (Cistus ladaniferus) came to her. So, for the next year I will make this plant my ally. I’m excited, first because this is so cool, and second because I know nothing about this plant except that it is one of the main ingredients in the flower essence “Rescue Remedy“. I ordered the essential oil so that I can work with that too.

Here’s a picture of my class and some of the teachers. All of us but one are going on to level three (and that’s only because one student just had a baby and is taking some time off).

Some of you have asked about the school I go to…
There are three official herb schools, and many others that hold classes, in Western North Carolina. This area really attracts healers, so there are all kinds of alternative education programs around here. The school that I go to, and teach for, is the Mountain Spirit School of Herbalism (MSSH) (We just changed our name from the Southeast Center for Herbal Healing, so don’t get confused by the web page). I took my first classes in 1999 at the North Carolina School of Natural Healing, which was being run by another herbalist at the time. I went on to open Full Circle Herbs, but kept it very small. This past September, I met up with Mimi Middleton, who is the director at MSSH. She was one of the first graduating classes from Tai Sophia with her Masters in Herbal Medicine. (Tai Sophia is the only school in the US that is approved to give Master’s degrees in Herbal Medicine). Anyway, she is an amazing woman to talk with and a fantastic teacher. She asked me if I would be interested in teaching some basic classes for the school, but I didn’t feel confident or competent enough to teach. So, instead, I decided to take the Level 2 class that was about to start, and I am so glad I did. Though some of the stuff was review, most of it was absolutely amazing and educational and stimulating! So, now, I have decided to go on to level 3. This is the final level and I will begin seeing clients in the clinical setting as an herbalist. I’m really excited about this! I have seen clients before, but I have never had a course like this and I think it will be extremely helpful. My plan, when I am done, is to see clients part-time out on the land. I will have a small apothacary out there and a great big herb garden. I am also about to begin teaching for the school. The next level one course is beginning next week and I will be teaching a few classes. All of this is really amazing, especially since I never thought I would find a place as an herbalist when we moved back to Asheville.

Now, for those of you who could care less about herbs, and are only checking this blog to see how my Chia Heads are doing, well, here you go:

Check it out!!! The roots grew through the panty hose without a problem, but the little sprouts couldn’t. So, I had to do a little brain surgery and cut a hole in the top. I love how the hair style changes depending on the angle of the sun :-) Kaia and I will probably plant them for the Equinox on Monday. We also plan to dye eggs and plant some flower seeds. What are you all planning for Ostara?

Purple, sparkly fairy dress

Last week, I promised K that I would make her a purple, sparkly fairy dress when she got over the chicken pox. So, yesterday, we went to the fabric store and she picked out what she wanted for her dress, and I spent the afternoon sewing. I have to say that I am very impressed with what resulted, cause I dont know how to sew! I took the basic idea from another dress that K has and came up with this:

Isnt that awesome!! If I thought I could even come close to repeating it, I would make one for myself too!! :-) And K likes pockets, so I made two in the front for her:

And here are her wings in the back. They are held on by a button, so she can take them off if she doesnt feel like flying:

This week is also graduation for my herb school! Then, in one month, I will start the clinical preceptorship and begin seeing clients. I have seen clients before, but taking an official course makes me feel more confident in my skills and more qualified to teach other herb students. I will be teaching Male and Female Anatomy and Physiology, Respiratory A&P, and select herbs to go along with those to the first level students that are beginning school in two weeks!

Oh, and on the beekeeping front, both of our hives made it through the winter and seem to be holding strong! We hope to move them up to our new land soon so that they can take advantage of all the Tulip poplars out there during blooming season!

Oh (again), and the Chia heads are growing!!

Chicken Pox

Well, K may be getting chicken pox sometime soon. One of the friends she plays with just came down with it. His doctor said it was the first case she has had in her office in over 2 years. WOW! I know a lot of kids are vaccinated against it now, but in our community where so many families don’t vaccinate, you’d think there would be more cases. A bunch of parents have already asked me if their kids can come over and try to get it through natural exposure if K gets it. So, maybe we will throw a Chicken Pox Party. Anyway, in preparation I wrote up a little herbal info for dealing with chicken pox.

Natural Therapies To Support Our Children Through Chicken Pox

Continue reading »

Another Year Younger!

So, yesterday was my 32nd birthday! I woke up to breakfast in bed (blueberry pancakes) and some snuggle time with the whole family in the bed (well, except the dog :-) Today, Toby is throwing me a birthday bash complete with a karaoke machine!! I will be sure to get lots of pictures and maybe some video. Until then, I’ll leave you with the recipe for “root soda” that I made for tonight:

  • 2 oz Sassafras Root
  • 1 oz Sarsaparilla Root
  • 1/2 oz each of Burdock Root, Dandelion Root, Fresh Ginger Root, and Licorice Root

If you don’t have some of these, substitute with other nice roots, like astragalus, but the sassafras and sarsaparilla are key ingredients for the flavor.

Put the roots in ~1 gallon of water and bring to a boil. Then simmer for 30 minutes. Take off the heat and let cool. Strain out herbs and add sweetener to taste (I ended up adding ~1 cup of brown sugar). Then add enough carbonated water to make it fizz. It should remind you of a gentle root beer.

This makes a bunch, so scale it back if you don’t want a ton in your fridge.

Sweet Rosemary!

“I know if I excrete from any of my holes that I can take an oak leaf and make a tea.”
-Rosemary Gladstar, discussing the astringent effects of tannins in plants

Rosemary Gladstar came into town this weekend for a talk on the United Plant Savers and women’s health. This is the first time I have seen her talk and she is a blast!! Aside from all the years of experience she has as an herbalist, she is just so down to earth, genuine and fun. My good friend Jill Frink-Thompson was her apprentice this past year, so she asked Rosemary to come and talk. The NC-AHG helped with some of the advertising for the talk, so as a thank you, Jill invited us all to a little party on Friday night. My first herb teacher, Peggy Ellis, was a student of Rosemary’s in the early 80’s. Peggy was also at the party, which was a total suprise. So, there ended up being 4 ‘generations’ of herbalists there, and with all of our “root soda” and home made mead and herb wine, we had a great time, as you can see!

We are very lucky to have such an amazing community of herbalists in this area!

This one is just of me on the right, Peggy in the middle and Rosemary on the left. I think we were talking about how her mother use to make Filo dough from scratch!!

Sorry I can’t post more, but I am feeling a bit cruddy!

Carmella

Listen to this!! I found out some more about my great-grandmother! Not only was she an herbalist, but before that, when she was still living in Italy, she was a nurse!! When she moved to the US she began working as an herbalist! How wierd is that?? My degree is in Nursing, but I stopped to become an herbalist. I spoke with my cousin, who is in his 50’s and who was raised where Carmella lived, and he remembers picking herbs and squeezing out the alcohol. He said she started the business in 1928 and got special permission from the government to buy, use and sell alcohol during prohibition. The document says she can use alcohol for her “patent medicines used for the stomach”. (He also thinks that many people just bought her medicine so that they could get the alcohol.) :-) Her company was actually called Aro-Stoma Tonic Company and he found records of one remedy that was actually Trademarked called “erba-ruta”, which in English is the herb Ruta graveolens or Herb of Grace. She must have had a tincture with Rue in it that she trademarked.

Ok, so here’s something else. A few years ago I met this woman who was learning to do past life regressions. I don’t know what I think about all of that, but she said she would do one for free, so I said, what the hell. Anyway, it was pretty uneventful and I felt like I was just making up this story or something, but at the end she asked if any of my ancestors had any messages for me. The first person who popped into my head was my great-grandma Carmella. I pictured us in a kitchen together and she was giving me a plant. I didn’t know what it was by site, but I said it was a rutabega. The woman doing the regression looked at me with a sad face, like I was messing with her. But really, that is what I saw in my minds eye. Now, I learn she was an herbalist, and maybe it was a ruta, and not a rutabega that she was trying to give me. I am definitely going to plant some of this in next years garden!!

I wish I had know this woman. She sounds like she was pretty cool! My dad died when I was 14, but I vividly remember the stories he use to tell about her. She raised him from an infant after his mom got sick. He said she was a very large italian woman and her breasts were so big that she would knock out a door frame if she turned around in one. He also said he use to come home from school and all his clothes would be gone. When he asked Carmella about it, she would say that he had the clothes on his back and there were poor children out there who needed the other clothes more than he did. :-)

Great Grandma Carmella

Have I mentioned that my great-grandmother was an herbalist? I found out a few years ago after I had already begun my herb business. Since we moved away from the family when I was 2 and my father died when I was 14, I haven’t had much contact with my father’s side of the family. So, I didn’t know much about my great-grandmother. Anyway, it turns out she came over to the US in the early 1900’s with her family. She started an herb garden and had a small vineyard. She would harvest her herbs and make tinctures, then use the grape press to extract the alcohol when the tinctures were ready. She ran a company called the Aerostromo Tonic Company. (I know aero is air in italian, but I don’t know what the whole name means). People would show up at her door for her medicine. Cool, eh? I talked to my uncle today and he said he is going to try to find any paperwork that there might be left so that I can have it. I’m not getting my hopes up, but wouldn’t that be amazing if there were old recipe books with her formulas??!! Oh, and her name was Carmella Tromentozzi Cedrone. Isn’t that at awesome name!

Three things…

Ok, first – watch the david letterman show tonight at 11:30! My good friend’s brother’s band, We Are Scientists, is going to be on there! Cool, eh?

Second, I am trying to get into the habit of saying ‘thanks’ before eating a meal. I want K to learn this ritual as a way to calm down before eating and to thank the earth for the food. A friend of mine taught me this great little blessing and I really like it:

Ths silver rain, the shining sun, and fields where scarlet poppies run
and all the ripples of the wheat are in the bread that we do eat.
So, when we sit at every meal, with thankful hearts we always feel
that we are eating rain and sun in fields where scarlet poppies run.

Isn’t that sweet!!

Third, I tried this amazing tea the other night by Tazo called Passion!! It is this fantastic mix of flowers and sweet roots and barks. Anyway, I had to figure out how to make it and I think I have got it. So, give it a try and let me know how you like it!

6 parts Hibiscus flower
3 parts Orange peel
3 parts Licorice Root
3 parts Cinnamon bark
3 parts Rose hips
2 parts Lemongrass
2 parts Food Grade Citric Acid (which you can get at some health food stores, or online)
(a part is by weight measurement, like ounces or grams. So, if you use one ounce of Hibiscus, you would use 1/2 ounce of the rest, except Lemongrass which is 1/3 ounce.)

Use 1 teaspoon per cup of water. Boil the herbs in the water for 15 minutes, strain out the herbs and add honey. After tasting this tea, you will be prone to saying “MMMmmmmmm, OOOOoohhh, that’s gooooood” in a somewhat orgasmic way!

Parties and Pageants

Last Sunday, the North Carolina Chapter of the American Herbalists Guild had a holiday party and fundraiser. The party was great! We had live music, lots of amazing donations for the silent auction, and drew in a bunch of great people! We raised well over $400! Now we just have to think of what herby things we want to do with the money!

Also on Sunday, K’s preschool had a little Christmas pageant. We didn’t get the greatest footage, but it is pretty funny. I was proud of them for doing a little skit on the history of Christmas customs, and I think it’s pretty funny that I know of at least 4 pagan-y types who have their kids in playschool there. I think it’s because they don’t push religion down your throught. (If you don’t have Quicktime on your machine, it’s pretty easy to download it from the site.)