My Herbs Blog
Oh- how I am already missing the plants of spring, and look forward to the next time I see them bloom. When you can not enjoy a fresh plant, or fresh root, dried is the next best thing. What I have learned, and also experienced is that herbs are the best medicine in tea form. There is something spiritual, earthy and so natural about making a tea/ tisane/ decoction or infusion of plant matter.
Let me first define those for words for you: An Herbal Tea is plant material extracted into water, by sun, heat, or even lunar rays.
Tisane- This is actually another word for Infusion, and is employed when working with the delicate parts of a plant, like the flowers, leaves, stems, seeds, and roots that have volatile oils.
"Infusing extricates the easily rendered vitamins, minerals, tannins, mucilage, delicate volatile oils, and many of the plant's chemical constituents."
-Rosemary Gladstar (The Science and Art of Herbology)
A Decoction- Is a type of infusion, but is used for roots and barks. The plant matter that is harder, and stubborn and needs some more time in slightly boiling water to extract the important materials.
To make a really good, and strong Dandelion Root herbal tea, you will employ the decoction method. Dandelion roots, can be dug up and I do have video on this process you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E71XwW0i03k
Chances are you have not already dug up roots, or enough for an entire winter. I know I have not. I usually use my dandelion roots pretty quickly and have to rely on those I buy. Look for herbs that are strong in smell, color, and taste. It may be hard to taste before buying but if you are able to sample from a small farm, then I would recommend that. More than likely if you buy from a small farm your herbs will be good!
Dandelion roots smell so good! I love opening a bag and taking a deep breath. I think I crave dandelion in all forms, the leaf, the flowers, the roots. My body must need them!
I also learned from Rosemary Gladstar's teachings to never make just a cup of tea. (Unless you are using tea bags). I am going to do a link here for Traditional Medicinals Dandelion tea. This was Rosemary Gladstar's company in the beginning and truly I think the only box tea worth drinking. If you do not want to buy the roots, but want to enjoy dandelion root tea. Try Traditional Medicinals Organic Roasted Dandelion Root tea.
Anyway let us get back to the directions. You will need a large pot with a lid, 1 cup dandelion root (dried), and 1 gallon of water. That is it! Three ingredients. I like to make my dandelion tea strong. It is much tastier, and more effective herbally. Pour your water into the pot and put on the lid. Turn the heat on medium high for a few minutes. Add the dandelion roots and replace the lid. You will want to keep watch on the pot, as soon as the water is boiling, turn the heat down to medium, or a simmer and put the lid back on. Simmer the roots for 25 minutes (with the lid on).
When the simmer is up, remove from heat and let stand another 10 minutes to "steep" further. At this point you can serve the tea hot with honey and milk, or let it cool further and put in a gallon jar in the refrigerator to drink cold. I personally like it both ways.
Lastly- I think it would be prudent for me to share the virtues of dandelion roots, as it is most fitting for this post. According to Dr. Nicole Apelian in her book The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies (which is a great starter book by the way) "Dandelion root is used to aid digestion and benefits the kidneys, gallbladder, and the liver. It stimulates bile production, helping with the digestion of fats and toxin removal. It removes toxins from the body and restores electrolyte balance, which improves liver health and function."
This is not an herb specific post, but related in many ways. On my blog I do receive commission as an Amazon affiliate when a person links from my web page, goes to Amazon and buys something. For this blog- I am recommending this chocolate, and do not have a commission link. This chocolate is just so good, I have to write about it, and because of the herbal component, I really wanted to write about this chocolate.
The crazy thing is- I can not find this chocolate on Amazon, but on the Walmart site. I would never in a million years think that the manufacturer's of this chocolate would market through Walmart, because it is just so good and so natural, but ok.
The brand is called Honey Mama's. I found it at my local discount store, and thought I would give it a try. I have to be honest, they only had 2 flavors, so I have not tried all the flavors. I bought Peppermint, and Nibs & Coffee.
The chocolate is wrapped in a paper wrapping, and is square. It has "PALEO" on the label, which got my attention.
Honey Mama’s are honey-cocoa bars made from five nutrient-rich ingredients. We make each flavor from the same delicious base of raw honey, unrefined coconut oil, cocoa powder, Himalayan pink salt, and sprouted almonds, shredded coconut, or sesame seeds. That’s it!
-Description taken from Honey Mama's website
They are Our bars are naturally free from soy, eggs, dairy, gluten, and grains.
Ok- Now I will describe my experience.
So I opened the package and the bar is divided into segments, and they are thick. It is not a typical chocolate bar. In fact it really is not a bar at all. Almost like blocks. The taste, texture and flavors are heavenly. It is pure heavenly chocolate. This truly must be what chocolate should taste like. There is depth, texture, and richness. It isn't like fudge though, but if I were to liken it to anything it would be fudge. I tasted, and felt healthy! Very healthy, and extremely delicious!
I only tried the Peppermint, which I normally do not like peppermint and chocolate, but I loved it! I also tried the coffee and nibs, which was equally delicious. This chocolate melts in your mouth, but does not leave you feeling guilty, or with a sick "hung-over" feeling. The quality is amazing!
It looks like they carry 9 different bars. I have pictures below of the other 2 I am most interested in because of the herbal component. I am confident they will not disappoint, and will have to make an updated post after I try them. If anyone has tried these or other flavors, please let me know.
This plant is quite lovely, especially in bloom. Of course it is the tactile feel of the leaves which is most appealing. It does not stun us with fragrance, but feel- "oh my!" Just look at the leaves in the picture, they sure do look like little lamb's ears. This plant belongs to the Stachys family of plants. It is very antimicrobial, which I find extremely interesting, because I would not think it. I usually think of the fragrant plants that are turned into essential oils, oregano, thyme, lavender, etc. as being antimicrobial.
My favorite use for this plant is as a bandage, or wrap for external purposes. The leaves work perfectly in a fomentation, or poultice. Instead of using cloth, I love to use Lamb's Ear when it is available. It is necessary to pick fresh and soft, not dried.
One of my children recently had a large bruise on his leg, from playing as boys play and climb, and run, etc. (Or as they should in normal conditions). It was uncomfortable enough, that I had him sit with a fomentation of Ragweed Tea and the Lamb's ear as a bandage/ poultice.
I love to use herbs in their season and they always seem to be available at just the right time and moment. I had a plethora of Goldenrod, also very good for wounds of all sorts. I brewed a beautiful yellow pot of tea by boiling the water, adding big cuttings of the Goldenrod, and letting it steep with the lid on.
Then I soaked the Lamb's Ear in the pot of tea, until they were hot and soft. I carefully removed the leaves from the pot after about a minute of soaking. A tongs works well for this, and you can lay the hot leaves on a ceramic dish. When the leaves were warm too touch, I laid them on his knee, and left there for 10 minutes. I also wrapped the affected area, with another dry towel to keep the heat in. I repeated this 2 more times (10 minutes) each time. We repeated over a few days, and say a great, and fast healing of the bruise.
I hate that I have to give a warning here. The way the world is, there is a warning for everything. Use common sense when applying and trying herbs. There are a lot of great books and courses with age old information, passed down. Some day I will write my own courses, and books. For now, I will recommend Rosemary Gladstar, because she has great plant knowledge.
Why did I do this? Why not just pop a pill, or rub on some salve? Well- I use intuition as a healer, and experience. It seemed like just what the "herbalist" ordered, when I made the Goldenrod tea, and cut my lamb's ear. Practice. That may be another reason......
How I make my roasted pumpkin seeds:
You will need fresh seeds from a large pumpkin. Scooping your own seeds makes the best roasted seeds. (Whenever I have bought them premade- sorely disappointing, When I can not get pumpkins, I use the seeds from Butternut Squash.
What you need:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt, and Herbs and Spices
Mountain Rose Herbs carries all kinds of sea salts, and herbs and spices to mix your own blend for making pumpkin seeds. You can click on one of my Mountain Rose Herbs banners below. I would recommend mixing: Their Himalayan Pink Sea Salt, with their Mediterranean seasonings. I would mix equal parts, 1 cup of each and store in a glass jar with a lid.
After you scoop out all the seeds, rinse under water in a colander. Pick off all the pulpy pieces and compost them. Continue to pick out all the seeds and set on your cookie tray. This can be boring. It is good to have a helper, (like a child) with this job.
Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil- COLD press only. My favorite oil for all things cooking and making herbal remedies. It is pure, healthy, and a gift from God.
"The olive tree is surely the richest gift of Heaven."
*Side note- never buy Olive Oil in plastic.
Then mix a little bit with the spatula so that the seeds are evenly coated. Then you can sprinkle with sea salt, and garlic powder, and whatever else you desire, or even try a specific spice blend, like the one I listed above. (Sarah's Sea Salt comes in Provencal, Caribbean, and Tuscan blends ).
Put the cookie sheet in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. You will need to keep an eye on the seeds. When they are slightly brown, ever so slightly, they are finished. If you here them pop, they went a little too far, remove from the oven immediately.
Then you can cool slightly and serve in a pretty bowl. Best fall treat ever! Way better than candy.
In this post, I will describing how I make smudge sticks with fresh plants, especially Goldenrod. I love this plant, and it is so plentiful right now in Eastern Pennsylvania. The Latin name of Goldenrod is Solidago spp. I am going to assume you already know how to identify this plant, and will not go into that lengthy description. If you do not know how to identify, I am going to lead you to this book to give you a hand at identifying all plants in the Eastern U.S., Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America, Third Edition (Peterson Field Guides)
You may also want to inquire with a plant person. I am sure you know someone who knows plants, and is superb at identification. If you do not know such person, you can also head over to my YouTube page Sheep Hill Herbs and see my videos with Goldenrod.
All that being said, you may also use Peppermint, or Mugwort, or Sage to make a smudge stick, and I daresay, just about any plant you want to choose!
I really do not like how it is hard to share and talk about herbs, and their uses. I feel like there is not much out there that gives people new to plants a basic understanding, in easy to understand language about medicinal plants. There is definitely a "fear" surrounding plants and nature in general, that is perpetuated from many sources. I like to make herbs easy, and accessible, as the plants are themselves. They are right there, available, outside. I do not want to make them harder than need be. For me, I like to read how the Native American Indians, or Native people used herbs, because they really needed and used them and relied on them for everything. I feel like information sourced from Native people around the world, is reliable and can be more of a guide than scientific literature, that only a handful of people can understand.
Below are some uses I found for Goldenrod by different Indian tribes:
-The Meskwaki (a Minnesota Fox tribe) made a lotion from the blossoms for bee stings and other painful swellings.
-Cherokee prepared a tea from one species to reduce fever and from another to treat bladder and kidney ailments.
-Delaware tribes prepared a tea from early Goldenrod to combat diarrhea and chewed the fresh green leaves for fevers.
-Chippewa used root decoction externally and internally for cramps; decoction of dried leaves for fevers.
Let's get started on the actual instructions for making smudge sticks. First you want to cut your fresh herbs. I do not let them wilt very long, but tie them pretty quickly after picking.
What you need:
String, or twine
Bunches of fresh herb. (A good fistful of plants)
You really do not need much and this is rather easy. I have made large smudge sticks - see my video below, and also small, rather thin ones from a few stalks of peppermint. The larger the smudge stick, the more smoke you will create. I make the smaller ones, to use as incense. I will light the small ones in a ceramic dish, and let sit on the stove, or some safe place. The larger smudge sticks I will move around an area that I wish to cleanse.
Back to the instructions.
What I do here ......This part is rather easy. You take the herb stalks and layer them into a stick or bundle, squeezing together as you work. Make this as long and as thick as you desire, but just make sure it is even thickness. For the Goldenrod the flower parts make an area thick, so you have to spread the flowers throughout.
You can see this exactly in my video: YouTube
When the bundle is finished you tie a knot in the middle of the wand and leave a short tail on one end, and a long tail attached to the twine at the other end of the know. Then begin to wrap the herbs going around the bundle and pulling tightly to one end of the stick, and then wrap back to the middle. When you reach the middle wrap towards the other end, and wrap back to the middle. When I finally get back to the middle, I tie off the string and trim the string. That portion is finished. I then take a scissors and trim both ends of the smudge stick so that they are even.
To dry, I set my smudge sticks on a glass or ceramic plate place on a sunny counter. I will turn the sticks a few times a day, to get both sides dry. The outer portion will be dry in about 2 days. I then remove from the sun and keep on the plate and continue to turn daily. They dry fully in about 2 weeks. If you have the space, you can tie the sticks up and hang them to dry. This will remove the turning step and allow air to circulate all sides at once. The drying time is a little shorter. I think this works best if you make numerous smudge sticks.
For burning. This is where you get to enjoy what you made. Do I need to say, please be careful. Be smart. Keep lighters, and matches away from children. I use a big ceramic dish. You can see in the picture here there is a ceramic bowl to place the smudge stick in. I light one end over the dish and you may have to lightly blow to get the smoke going. I will walk to each room I want to smudge with the smudge stick dish and then keep it right there as I move the smoke with my hands and try to waft it around the area I want to cleanse.
With my smaller smudge sticks, I light and allow to burn slowly in a room. I only do this where I have a safe spot like my kitchen stove where I can set the bowl and the stick and know it won't be knocked over. This is not something I would leave burning and walk away. The whole process is the process. You want to be engaged with the activity of burning your smudge stick. Close your eyes, and allow the energy to change around you.
The best time to do this is when you need to shift the energy of a room, or a whole house. There may have been an accident, a loud argument, or even just a funky smell. I am amazed at how quickly the whole home changes when you burn a smudge stick. As a person very sensitive to smells and energy; a wrong smell or negative energy bothers me greatly. This tool allows a quick and effective shift of into a positive flow pretty quickly and effectively.
I am not really a mushroom fan, or person. I never liked mushrooms as a child. I should really prefaced all of this by saying that I am not a picky eater. I will try and enjoy many foods. Mushrooms though are a little 'yick' to my taste buds. I think it is rather the texture, because they flavors can be quite wonderful. I did enjoy a delicious mushroom soup in Burlington Vermont, about 15 years ago. I love forget the name of the restaurant, but it was the one really memorable mushroom occasion.
I go in search of plants and herbs on almost a daily basis. Upon my seeking of fall plants for harvest, I past an OLD OAK tree, long lost of leaves, and color and life, but tall and high into the sky. Picture to come. I should have taken a picture of the tree, and will have to go back to take one. It was truly magnificent. There were numerous large clusters of orange mushrooms, and I felt from my experience with nature and wildlife that this was an edible mushroom. So I gathered a piece and took it back home to investigate.
I soon discovered that this was Laetiporus sulphureus, or Chicken of the Woods. My mushroom collecting friends told me this was a great specimen, and that it tastes rather delicious like chicken. Well, I must say my curiosity got the better of me, but my stomach was thinking- no thanks!
I looked up the tastiest looking recipe, and decided to make some of this supposed mushroom delicacy. I should tell you that this mushroom does have some nutritional benefits, and let me share that briefly. Nutritionally this mushroom is a source of protein, fiber, carbohydrates, calories, as well as Potassium, Vitamin C and Vitamin A. There are some great websites with loads of information on this mushroom. I like this site. https://curativemushrooms.com/chicken-of-the-woods-mushroom
For me, this is more of an exercise of experience, as an herbalist, rather than a mushroom hunter, which I do not intend to become. That all being said. We had quite a harvest of this mushroom, and I have subsequently froze some of it; a lot of it!
I broke apart the pieces of the mushroom as they appear in layers. I brushed off all the pieces, and I wanted to rinse briefly, as I did read that soaking is not a good idea with this mushroom. (It can become water-logged). I put the pieces in cool water and swished really quickly and poured of the water, and repeated. That was it!
Ingredients you need to cook this bad boy:
5 Cloves of Garlic
2 cups of sliced Chicken of the Woods
1/4 cup chopped Parsley
1/4 teaspoon Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Garlic powder
1/2 cup white wine (dry) *I actually used an herbal infused wine I had made with Mimosa flowers, but that would be a whole new blog post.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Dice up your fresh garlic and put in the frying pan with a generous helping of Olive Oil and turn the heat on medium. Then add all the other ingredients, starting with the mushrooms. This cooks really quickly. Oh wait! Cook 5 minutes, then add the wine and cook 3 more minutes or until the wine is absorbed, and SERVE. That is it! Really quick.
INGREDIENTS FOR APPLE mixture:
4 cups cut, tart apples with the skin
1/2 cup water
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 cup Rapidura sugar or Raw Honey
Maple Syrup (for topping)
Raw Milk to serve
We have been eating a gluten free diet for a number of years. It began because of some digestive difficulties associated with wheat, and gluten rich foods. Now the new way of cooking and grain choices sans wheat has made such an improvement on our health, that I stick with it. I actually prefer wheat free foods. My children even like my gluten free pizza better than regular pizza. For us, it is not an allergy of emergency, and if we wanted we could have wheat, but we do have better skin, and healthy bodies because of the change.
I use to LOVE apple dumplings! I should rephrase that, "I love apple dumplings." I also love every regular food with wheat, such as bread, pizza, pasta, but I have found many alternatives that are delicious! This recipe is one of my creation and it is rather good.
To get started. Choose an apple with a sour, or tart taste. I like JonaGold apples. What I do first is cut the apples into slices and put in a saucepan on the stove. I cut my apple pieces into smaller pieces than if I were using wheat flower, because the gluten free dough is not as flexible. Cut your apples into 1 inch pieces, and leave on the skin. YES! Skin is good for us. It provides fiber, and vitamins and minerals. After placing 4 cups of cut apples into a saucepan, add 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup rapidura sugar or raw honey, and 1 Tablespoon cinnamon, and a sprinkle of nutmeg.
Simmer the apples until soft. It works better to cook the apples first, because the dumplings do not need to cook as long in the oven. Set the apples aside, and you will begin working on the dough.
Ingredients for Dough :
2 cups Buckwheat flour
1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
1/2 cup Tapioca starch
1 cup coconut flour
1/2-1 cup cold water
Pinch of Sea Salt
1/2 cup Slippery Elm powder
*Preheat oven at 375 degrees
To make the dough, you will need to be flexible. I say this because I have found that gluten free dough products are not consistent, because it really depends on the brands you buy for your ingredients. In a ceramic bowl whisk the eggs together, add the melted coconut oil. (If it is summer time you may not have to heat- it should already be liquid). If it is cold then melt on a low temperature on the stove. Whisk the eggs and oil together quickly. Next add the buckwheat flour and stir until the flour is wet. Just like regular dough, you do not want to over stir. Add the Tapioca starch, coconut flour and pinch of salt. For the water, you will need to watch and add carefully. You want a moist dough, that works like clay, very similar to regular dough but you can't overwork it. It may take some practice.
Add the water a little at a time and work with your hands. When you think the consistency is correct, then sprinkle your hands with slippery elm powder and rub off the excess dough. You can let this bowl sit a few minutes, and prepare your pans for baking.
You will probably need 2 baking dishes. I like to grease my pans with Olive Oil. (Extra Virgin). This is my favorite oil and I use it with everything. Then on a clean flat surface sprinkle with Slippery Elm powder, just like you would flour. Put your lump of dough on the powder and roll out your dough into a big squarish shape. I do not flip the dough like I would a gluten dough, because it may come apart. I do this quickly, because you do not want to really cement your dough into the table surface.
After you have rolled out your dough, then cut into squares. I cut about 4 x 4 squares, with the intention of spreading them out a little bigger. To make the dumplings I took a spatula and moved the cut square to the greased pan. I had to do this delicately. Then I took a 1/2 cup of apple mixture and scooped it onto the dough square. Next carefully pull up the side of the dough and press into place. Continue to pat and smooth the dough until it makes a nice shaped dumpling.
Keep repeating this process until all the dumplings are made. You should have about 8 from the ingredients provided. If you find the dough too sticky, just add more slippery elm powder to your hands. Drizzle extra juice onto the top of the dumplings before putting them into the oven. OPTIONAL* Add a pat of butter to the top of each dumpling. You are now ready for baking!
hYou can now bake your dumplings. They will only need to cook about 20 minutes. Check on them and when the crust is slightly golden brown, remove from the oven.
To serve: Let cool and then scoop into a bowl and drizzle with Maple Syrup and cold milk.
Horseradish seems like a fall and spring food, but we enjoy it all year round! Every spring when the green leaves come back to life, and we are busy picking dandelions, it is time to make fresh horseradish. My children love to eat Lamb at Passover, with horseradish and dandelion salad. It is not only traditional, but also a cleansing and uplifting start to the new season.
I usually make a quart of horseradish early in the spring, and it carries us through the summer. Now it is fall, and before the leaves die back and the roots freeze. I make another batch of horseradish to carry us through the winter months until Spring comes again. Horseradish is useful for more than just roast beef. I love it on potatoes, eggs, and roasted vegetables. It makes a great condiment for sandwiches, and I even scoop a spoonful on to my soups.
If I experience congestion, I may just open a jar and take a deep breath. Be careful if you are not use to this, it can really give you a "start" if you have little experience with this plant. Like all the plants, I have found that small, and slow introductions are best. When you are comfortable, you may find yourself really immersing yourself in a particular plant. That may also be for a season. This particular year, I spent a lot of time with horseradish. I even soaked horseradish in white wine, to make a tincture of sorts, but when you do this, the result is not as medicinal and a much lighter extract. However, the plant energy has still been extracted and makes a very pungent, strong tasting wine. I would sip a few thimblefuls in the evening to help open my head.
The last thing I want to caution you about, but not scare in anyway is in regards to the sensation that horseradish can cause in your head if you take a big bite. You may be familiar with this if you have ever eaten Wasabi. These particular roots can send a semi-painful, yet delightful sensation through your head upon the moment of eating. This area can be different for every person, and I think coincides with places of congestion. Once you have taken a delicious bite, and the sensation passes, you will find a whole new openness in your head and breathing, well worth the heat!
Wasabi or Japanese horseradish is a plant of the family Brassicaceae, which also includes horseradish and mustard in other genera. A paste made from its ground rhizomes is used as a pungent condiment for sushi and other foods.
My instructions for making Horseradish:
Start with a few good sized roots, freshly dug. If you do not grow your own, you can actually order roots, or buy at a local market. Wash thoroughly and slice off the skin; or peel off the brown skin. When that has been completed, cut the root into 1 inch sized pieces and place in a good blender. I use a Ninja and it works well. Place all your cut up pieces in the blender. I personally would not blend more than a cup at a time, because it can be hard on the machine. After putting a cup of cut up pieces in the blender, you will pour Apple Cider Vinegar with the Mother just to cover the roots. Then pulse. Pulse. Pulse. Then blend until creamy and smoothish. You want chopped up little pieces, and almost a paste.
WARNING! When you take the lid off the blender, you may be tempted to take a deep breath. If you have really good roots, it may feel like a punch in the face. Take the lid off, and step back a minute before taking a deep breath. But you will want to breathe in your fresh horseradish; it is part of the ritual of making your own. Hope you enjoy! 😊
This "how to" is not a spiritual exercise, but I guess it could be if you should choose to see it that way. I won't be getting into the science of aromatherapy. This is just an exercise for fun, and relaxation, and to enjoy the fragrance of plants and herbs. I also wanted to do this exercise, because I wanted to teach my boys how to sew, and I thought it would make a great sewing project.
What you need to do this:
1. HERBS- I used Lavender, Rose petals, Chamomile, Mugwort, Lobelia, Hops, Spearmint, Peppermint and Boneset. To be honest, I kind of wanted to use up some herbs I had had a little while. All herbs listed here, except for the Boneset and Lobelia sitting for a few months. Although herbs can last years if store properly, I do not like to have my herbs sit and sit. The Lobelia and Boneset were wildcrafted at a creek bed, and I had dried quite a bit, so I decided to add a little to the mixture. The Hops was in powder form, because that is what I had, but I would really recommend HOPS flowers.
I did not use a specific recipe, but for the purpose of this post, I will give you one so you know what to do! When I give parts, I will give part the value of 1 ounce.
2 parts Rose petals
2 parts Lavender petals
1 part Chamomile flowers
1 part Mugwort
1 part Spearmint
1 part Peppermint
1/2 part Hops flowers, or clusters
1/4 part Lobelia (optional)
1/4 part Boneset (optional)
** You can add any other herbs you want to this mixture. The more fragrant flowers you add, the more fragrant your dream pillow.
BI always mix my herbs in ceramic, or pottery dishes. You can use wood, glass, or other natural material. I believe that all life forms, and plant do have life- emit an energy force. I like to use natural materials, because they have more life energy, than say- plastic.
You will also need fabric. I suggest choosing fabric that is not too thin, or too thick (like flannel). You want it to breath, so you can smell the herbs. Choose something soft and appealing. I chose to use bigger needles and crochet yarn, which is about the thickness of embroidery floss. I wanted my kids to sew with bigger needles and thread, because it is easier to learn to sew with bigger tools. I found that this worked out really well.
I cut the squares to sizes 4 x 5 inches (approximately). You can choose any size you want! Usually they are smaller, but it really depends on the size you want to make. I told my kids to fold their cut fabric, hamburger style and with the pattern facing inward. We sewed three sides, and then flipped the fabric, inside out which really made it the correct way, and then stuffed the fabric with our herbs. We premeasured all the herb mixture to determine how much we wanted to use for each pillow. We wound up with 7 cups, and made 7 pillows. To be honest, I would have liked to use more herb in my pillow for the size 4 x 5". I think 1 1/2 cups would have been better.
The last simple step, is just to sew up the final side. Yeah! Then put it on your pillow or in your pillow case, or even beside your bed. The fragrance is a welcome delight when you arrive to bed, and wake in the morning. Below is the video I made on this DIY project. If you make your own, please come back and comment. Have a blessed day!
The first thing you need to 'believe' to be a really effective Herbalist is a love of plants. Maybe I should step back a minute and define what an Herbalist is. Dictionary.com defines an herbalist as 'a person who collects or deals in herbs, especially medicinal herbs.' This definition is ok. It is basic, but I want to expand on what I believe an Herbalist is. An Herbalist is someone who works with plants, and "work" is not a thing you go to and leave at a certain time. When I say work, it is a total life immersion with plants- almost a oneness with them. There is a small word in that definition that I want to concentrate on and that word is 'collects.' An herbalist is someone who collects plants from nature. They know plants, and can identify them. They are familiar with their ways and growing patterns. They wait expectantly for their shoots, flowers, and follow the plants cycles. They also have a deep respect for nature and plants. Let me give you an example of what I mean by "loving plants."
Every time I moved, I took my plants with me. "Oh your potted plants," you say. No- not just my potted plants, but my plants that were rooted in the ground. I always divided them and made baby plants that I could take and replant somewhere else. I was saddened each time to leave my plants, even more than my homes. I would miss a lot of the trees. In fact my children still talk about a certain apple tree we had at a property when they were young. As an Herbalist you will love plants and see plants as your friends. If you tend to see plants as how you can make a profit. If you look at a beautiful forest, or field and only see dollar signs, you are not an Herbalist, you are something else. Not sure what- but something else.
An Herbalist will collect seeds and save the seeds to bring more plants to life. An Herbalist will not over harvest an area. She will take from the gifts of nature, respected the space where plants grow, and allowing the other little creatures to enjoy those gifts as well. An Herbalist will always be growing something. She (or he) will have seeds and pots and little containers of soil, starting more plants, and more trees, encouraging more growth. She will also find little plants alone and in danger of being cut, or mowed, or torn out and transplant them to a safe environment. She will pray for the plants that are suffering in areas where people abuse them.
Another story- where I live there is a home, a property where an older woman lives. I do not know this woman as she really is not willing to communicate with the neighbors. She mows the property daily and weeds whacks back the grass so low, that much of the tree roots are exposed to open air. There are no flowers, or weeds of any sort, or any other growing thing on the property. There is a definite feeling of low energy when we walk by the home. I feel sorry for the woman, and even sorrier for the plants, who cannot move from their spot. We say prayers when we pass her place, and I think of the day when the trees can stretch their roots, and feel the swaying grass and be happy in the sunshine again.
The second 'belief' you need to have to be an Herbalist is the the belief that herbs are nature's way of healing. I am always careful at saying this, and unless you are an herbalist, you probably will be angry or not understand what I mean. I am not saying that I do not appreciate hospitals, or doctors, and am grateful for a system of emergency care. My belief is that God has provided a bounty in nature to feed the souls of mankind, if we only knew how to harvest that gift. Modern medicine is so new, compared to the thousands of years of plant medicine we have in our history. Some people may feel that that was a backward time, and real life only began when modern medicine, and pharmaceuticals began. All I am saying is an herbalist at heart, will be fully committed to plant medicines.
The third belief you must possess is a strong belief in treating nature with respect, and not seeing it as something to strip bare for profit.
“The land is sacred. These words are at the core of your being. The land is our mother, the rivers our blood. Take our land away and we die. That is, the Indian in us dies.” – Mary Brave Bird, Lakota “We learned to be patient observers like the owl.
My question to you is- What do you see when you look at the picture of the forest below? Make a list of the 10 words that come to mind when you see this picture. I would love to share mine, but I do not want to cloud your own thoughts with mine. Share below a few of your descriptions. Ok- I can't help but share one "tranquility."
I hope this article helped someone get a clearer definition of what it means to be an Herbalist. I want to end this article by saying I do belief it is a true calling. If you have been called to work with the plants, you will probably know.