Thursday, May 29, 2008

Where did May go?

I was downloading pictures that were taken yesterday when I noticed that there were some from quite a while ago. That's when it hit me.... I've been falling down on the blog!

It's been a very fast month. The book came out, a new issue of the magazine went to the printer, there was the farmers market and a couple of other festivals to do. In between there were all sorts of plants that burst through, needing some form of attention.

This was May of '08 in fast-forward mode.....


The week after Landis Valley Herb Faire, we went up to The Rosemary House to help celebrate their 40th anniversary. Maryanne was one of the featured artists participating, and I sold and signed books. It is still cracking me up that after 3 years, the Wild Foods for Every Table book has caught fire. It is surprising how interested people are all of the sudden. But I digress... It was fun to be a part of this momentous occasion, and watch the family together. Here are the beautiful Reppert women, toasting the past 40, and looking forward to many more. Susanna, Nancy, Marge, and Cary.
Next is the fabulous array of herbal goodies that Nancy supplied for the celebration. My goodness, that woman can cook! The strawberries were my favorite. She stuffed them with a marscapone cheese blend and sprinkled them with crushed pistachios. I could have eaten a whole platter, but there were witnesses. Sharon Magee brought that darned "crack" pictured in the front. The saltines covered in butter, brown sugar, and chocolate. It's a conspiracy, I tell ya! I wound up bringing home a fig tree and a couple of poppies, among other things.

The other day I got the still out to try working with the vast carpet of chamomile out back. It took a couple of hours to get enough flowers to HALF fill the still. There was no oil, but the hydrosol is luscious. It was good to get the still cranked up. It fills the house with fragrance and puts me back in the mood to make things. I've been planting things specifically for distillation, so as they come up, I'll report in.

We went on a tour of some other herb businesses yesterday. First we stopped at Kathy's around the corner - Cloverleaf Herb Farm. She has the sweetest farm, and the landscaping is gorgeous. Her husband John can usually be found mowing or moving something around, but they both stop and chat for a little bit.
I loved the poppies under the sign I just had to get some for the house (nice bit of merchandising, eh?), and picked up a couple of "spare" plants of holy basil. And some other stuff too.
This is the entrance to one of her greenhouses. No matter when we stop in, it is always neat and tidy as can be. They must work during the night.

Next we stopped at Marian Miller's Lavender Patch Bed and Breakfast. Her gardens are just bursting with blossoms. The little gate (which leads into a lovely pool) was just covered with roses, and the peonies and flags were going nuts. Another wonderful bit of landscaping.

On the way home, we had to check on the horses up the road. The babies just kill me. They run and scamper and kick up their heels, and then all at once they are exhausted and throw themselves to the ground to rest. What a life :-).

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Under the Sun - Contents

Things are finally starting to settle down around here to a dull roar. We announced the release of the latest book , " The Essential Herbal~Under the Sun" in the beginning of May, but never posted a table of contents. That is partly because the book is divided into 8 sections so full of articles, recipes, instructions and tips, that we used the sections as a table of contents and opted to use the index in the book to list individual articles, crafts, writers, and recipes.
Just in case you were wondering what might be in such a book, here is the very abridged Table of Contents. We think there is a lot there, certainly enough to keep us all busy for the spring and summer!

Gardening
~ Creating a Garden Journal
~ Starting Herbs from Seeds
~ Zone Chart
~ Designing a Moon Garden
~ An Aromatic Garden
~ Spa Garden (recipes included)
~ Collecting Scented Geraniums
~ Saints in the Garden
~ Making Hypertufa Pots
~ Container Gardening
~ Growing Lavender
~ Composting
~ A Visit to the Herb Farm
~ Our National Herb Garden
~ Preparing Culinary Herbs for Harvest

In the Kitchen
~ Magic in the Kitchen (3 recipes)
~ Soup is Good Food (1)
~ Quick & Easy Shrimp Creole or Jambalaya (2)
~ Portabello & Radicchio Rissotto (1)
~ Favorite Crab Casserole (1)
~ Easy Aspic (1)
~ Basil (3)
~ Tomatoes (6)
~ Salad Days - Making Potting Soil AND Vinaigrette
~ Raspberry Vinegar (2)
~ Herbal Picnic Basket (11)
~ Dips and a Syrup (5)
~ Herb Cheese Dip (1)
~ Goat Cheese Mousse & Herbed Pita Chips (2)
~ Recipes from Herb n' Ewe Cafe (3)
~ Lemon Herbs (4)
~ It's the Berries (1)
~ Blackberry Memories (3)
~ Cordially Yours (3)
~ Tropical Coolers (2)
~ Mint Julep (2)
~ Herbed Lemoncello (1)
~ Rosemary (2)
~ Fairy Tea Party Delights (3)
~ Kava Tea (1)
~ Viva la Romance Tea (1)
~ Lavender Fennel Tarts (1)
~ Desserts (3)
~ Omega Three's (6)
~ Ginseng (5)
~ Storing Herbs
~ Gifts from the Sea (sea vegetables)

Just Weeds (Ideas and Recipes for Using Weeds for Food and Medicine)
~ A Walk in the Wild with Children
~ A Weed Walk in the City
~ Tasty Wild Plants
~ Don't Get Mad, Get Eatin'
~ Chickweed
~ Poke Salad
~ Wait! We're Not Weeds!
~ The Wild Weed Gourmet
~ Nettles
~ Edible Flowers

Herbal First Aid
~ Inside the Herbalist's Medicine Chest
~ Hand Sanitizer
~ Epi-Moisture Salve
~ Bruise Butter
~ Natural Remedies for Cold and Flu
~ Reduce Stress to Reduce Illness
~ Herbal Help for Arthritis
~ Spring Detox
~ Something Going Around
~ When Mommy Gets Sick
~ One Minute Miracles
~ Mother's Home Remedies
~ Favorite Backyard Remedies
~ Herbal Aphrodisiacs

The Stillroom (Recipes and Instructions for Creating Herbal Potions)
~ Soapmaking
~ Spicing Up Hand Made Soap
~ Salt Spa Bars
~ Bath and Beauty with Herbs
~ Felting Soap
~ Soap Stones
~ Tub Tea for the Weary Gardener
~ Bath Salts and Brews
~ What You Can Not See May be Harmful
~ Cleanser and Ageless Beauty Salve
~ Lotion Bars
~ Glycerin: What is it?
~ Natural Spring Cleaning
~ Take Time to Smell the Roses
~ Ancient Echoes Potpourri
~ Cedar Incense
~ Simmering Potpourri
~ Making Herb Beads

Traditions (How We've Used Herbs Over the Years, and Continue to Today)
~ The Wheel Turns to...
...the Vernal Equinox
...Beltane
...first Litha and then Lughnasad
~ May Day Celebrations
~ The Bitter Herbs of Passover
~ Rosemary Kintyre, Moss Maiden of Norwood
~ Rosebud Kissing Ball and Garland
~ Tussie Mussies
~ Natural Herb Dyes
~ Weedy Shirts (plant prints)
~ Harvest, and Flower Pounding
~ Kids and Herbs
~ Something Old, Something New
~ Hunting Four Leaf Clovers
~ Herbs for Magic
~ Old Farmers Advice

The Herbs (Articles About Single Herbs)
~ Lavender
~ Making Lavender Wands
~ Lavender Recipes
~ Roses, Queen of Flowers
~ The Incredible, Edible, Healing Rose (4 recipes)
~ Rose Petal Jelly
~ Rosa Rugosa
~ Stevia (6)
~ Cilantro/Coriander (4)
~ All About Thyme (8)
~ Comfrey is a Comfort
~ Vetiver
~ Dents De Lion
~ Albizzia
~ Ginger, the Oldest of Spices (3)
~ The Wisdom of Growing Sage (2)
~ Sage in Your Garden (1)
~ Hoodia
~ Sweet Cicely and Chervil
~ Mugwort
~ Echinacea

Herb Business
~ Running a Retail Place
~ Getting Away
~ Processing Herbs for Tea
~ So You Want to be a Vendor
~ It's Show Time!
~ Be Careful What You Wish For

So there you have it... an idea of what is inside. There are also some tidbits sprinkled over the pages, some poetry, cartoons, and herbal trivia. Under the Sun is available on our website - www.essentialherbal.com




Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mount Joy Farmers Market


Oh, joy! We can once again set up and work our booth at the Mount Joy Farmers Market. If you've never checked it out and you're local, the market runs from 8 am until noon on Saturday mornings. It is held in the breezeway parking lot of the Union National Bank on Main Street. Lots of free parking, and tons of good produce, baked goods, plants - and us, with our soaps, potions, books and the magazine. If you are visiting Lancaster County on vacation, this is a great little taste of local flavor, right on the way to Hersheypark or the PA Renaissance Faire.
For the last two weeks, our kids (my daughter Molly, and Maryanne's son Rob) have taken care of it for us while we vended first at Landis Valley Herb Faire, and then last week at The Rosemary House's 40th anniversary celebration.
How cool is that to have the kids pitch in and actually run the booth for us? After all these years they are both coming to find an appreciation for the things we do, and enjoy helping out. We never pushed them, feeling bad enough that we were taking so much time away from them, so it is a good feeling to have them come around on their own. Naturally, their days at the market seemed to revolve around the bakery stand and trips down the street for the all-important coffee blends, but hey - they were there. That was all that we really required :-).

I can't really say why it is so much fun. Over the winter we really missed it, and discussed it several times. We both love a *little* retail, for the reactions, the feedback, and because we really do love to see our customers. Because it is such a small dose, there are none of the negatives that come with a regular shop --- which I won't go into because it just isn't worth it. If you've done it, you know. If you haven't, there's no point in talking about it.

One of the really great parts of doing the market is that it gives us an answer to the eternal question of, "Where can I find you and your products?" While we were at Landis Valley, we probably told 50 people about the farmers market. People who live close by, but never knew it was there.
So I'm looking forward to Saturday. The weather forecast is gorgeous. The local berries and peas will start showing up, and our friends in the neighboring booths will be there to gossip with. What better way to spend a Saturday morning? And... I get to come home with a basket full of locally grown and produced foods.

Friday, May 16, 2008

fortunately, I like weeds...

We've had a perfect spring for weeds here in my neck of the woods. Everything is lush and green and WET. Lots and lots of rain. Combine that with the recent release of the book and the deadline of the next magazine, and you will understand that the gardens are looking ...um... shall we say neglected? May 15th is the date that we are safe to put out tender plants, so normally it is when I just get rolling - give or take a week. This year, I fear that I may not find the gardens when I finally get around to toiling in them. Want to see why?

I didn't have the heart to take a picture of the whole row of lavender. Just a couple of plants and the sage show here. The penny or field cress is all over the place, along with the false strawberry. They both have root systems that are based in China, I believe. I'll have some serious hard work to do to clear that path. Behind the fence is a mass of some white-flowered bladderwort thing that spreads like crazy too - and some lovely crab-grass.
The lavender is all grosso, and the sage is Bergarten, which has lovely oval shaped leaves. It has a huge amount of essential oil, so little is needed for culinary purposes. It makes the most wonderful wreath base!

Next is the patch that I look out the office window to see every day. The chives are so pretty right now, and the Roman chamomile and rosemary (with a couple blooms right at the top!) are doing well in this weather. This little spot has a good amount of mulch, so I've been able to find these plants and keep them safe so far.
The little rolling wagon has become a haven for the guinea hens. They drink the water from the base on dry days. I leave it there and don't dump out the water. They might also think it is "one of their own". Odd birds, they've taken to teasing the cat through the door. I'm not sure who is more frightened.

This is a group of German chamomile plants (I hope I don't have the two chamomiles confused - it happens) that I rescued from a construction site last year. At the time, they were scrawny little wisps of plants, with roots clinging to gravelly bits of dirt. Now they have sprawled out to cover a 4X6 foot area. They seem pretty happy here, along with the cress, the lamb's quarters, and the poke root. Oh, and some wild mustard and chickweed. Yes, everything just growing a mile a minute...

The vegetable garden-to-be. It's already been planted with beans, peas, beets, squash, turnips, and cucumbers. The tomatoes and peppers will go in shortly. All around the edges, the false strawberry creeps ever closer. At the top of the plot, the weeds are a wild variety of field weeds. All seem to have strong taproots. And all are already going to seed. It's a space about 10' X 100'. This should be quite a challenge. Oh - and see those holes in the dirt? Those are deer tracks. Big ones and tiny little ones. How sweet of the mama doe to teach her baby where the tender little bean sprouts grow. Grrr....

Finally - something that doesn't give me an anxiety attack. Mom's lilacs. These bloom after the white ones in the front fade. They smell heavenly, and grow next to the valerian that will be blooming soon. Right outside the door, when a breeze picks up these scents.... ah... that must be why I love gardening. It isn't because of the need for order, that's for sure :-).

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The drawing for the bracelet -

We decided that it wouldn't be any fun to just draw one name. I mean, come on! So there are some review copies of other books, a couple of t-shirts, soaps, lotion bars... ok, 14 prizes all together. I wish we had enough bracelets and could send one to everyone.

So without further ado.....Winner of the bracelet is TARA ARMER!
Congrats, Tara.

Other winners:
82 Sensational Stevia Desserts by Lisa Jobs - Michele Brown
Blue T-Shirt - Gail Odegaard
Terra Cotta T-Shirt - NancyMcQuiggan
Herbal Playing Cards - JoAnne Farrell
Spa Soap Bar - Liana McCoy
Jewelweed/Plantain Soap Bar - Christie Sarles
Antique package of borage - Karen Mallinger
Women's Herbs, Women's Health by Christopher Hobbs & Kathi Keville - Michele Rice
Garden Voices, Stories of Women & Their Gardens by Carolyn Freas Rapp - Susan Hess
Small Sandalwood Fan - Elizabeth Doutre
Lavender Lotion Bar - Jennifer Halliday
Amber Lotion Bar - Rachel Johnson
Garden Buddy Neck Wrap - Elizabeth Lalwani

Congratulations everyone. Thanks for helping to make the debut a rousing and FUN success.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Stacks in the Racks, Piles in the Aisles!

They're HERE!!!
The books got here today and they have taken over the sunporch. This will seem odd to some, but it just never dawned on me when we placed the order that a skidload of books might change the aesthetics of the house. Most of them are stacked in this corner that was cleared yesterday in anticipation.

We hurried to get several boxes unpacked, signed, and into the waiting mailers. We even made it to the post office before they closed. The clerk looked frightened until we assured her that they were all ready, with postage affixed.

A few more boxes will go to the Landis Valley Herb Faire, and then we can settle in to our everyday stuff of getting the next issue together, making soaps and herbal preparations, and gardening. We might even be able to squeeze in a visit to the wildflower preserve!

Ah... I can't wait to get back into the garden. The chamomile that I "rescued" from a construction site last year has sprawled over it's bed and from the office I can see plump white buds ready to spring open. The other day I noticed an abundance of larkspur plants that were returning as volunteers from the beauties that were planted last year. The pink balloon flowers are up, and the chives are ready to bloom. More importantly, the mugwort is getting a firm grip on things, and there is a nasty little strangling vine popping up that snaps at the root when you try to pull it.
Oh! And the peas need something to climb!
I can't help it though... this book is really exciting. It has already had a huge response, and I just can't wait to share it with others and see what they think. If it's any indication, my brother-in-law was reading away earlier this afternoon. That's an enormous endorsement - lol.

This place is just nuts

I've been away from the blog for a while now. This time of year is so busy for all the herb businesses, and we are no exception. On the one hand it is exciting and wild. On the other, we don't get enough rest. There's a lot to talk about though, that's for sure!
First, a couple of my friends have new books out, and they are both really wonderful. I snared the photos from their websites.
Marge Clark (naturesgift.com) put out "Essential Oils and Aromatics". It is full of easy to follow information, complete with ideas for use, recipes and applications. This lady knows her stuff, and has always been very sharing with the information. This is a good one for the beginner or someone who already knows a good bit about essential oils. It is beautiful, too.
Rosanne Tartaro (sunrosearomatics.com) came out with "Chakra Balancing". This little book is crammed full of information, explaining the chakras and how they function, along with corresponding color, stones, and oils.

Then last week the farm market opened in Mount Joy. We had a pretty good time. Maryanne's son Rob is learning the ropes so he and Molly can take over while we do other shows and things on occasion. Molly is in the midst of SAT's, ACT's, and AP tests, so she was tied up. We took along my current friend "flat Stanley". One of our writers (and dear friend) Geri Burgert has a son whose class read about this character. Each kid in the class sent flat Stanley to someone in another part of the country, and we will all take photos and write a story about our adventures with flat Stanley. It is sometimes a struggle for my fertile mind to keep this a kid-friendly story... but I will. I promise.

We are currently waiting breathlessly for the truck to roll up with a skid of the new book "Under the Sun". Pre-order envelopes are stacked, addressed and waiting to be stuffed with signed copies.
We'll be taking them "on the road" this weekend at the Landis Valley Herb Faire here in Lancaster. As always, our favorite faire in the spring, it seemed like the perfect place to debut the book in person. If you're in the area, be sure to stop by!

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