Wednesday, December 05, 2018

ANNOUNCING - 2 great new herb books!

I'm so excited to announce that both I and my friend Susan Hess (from The Stillroom at Pitch Pines) each have a new book coming out!

My book is called The Healing Power of Herbs and I'm always so happy to share the joy of working with herbs and hope to inspire confidence in those just beginning their herbal journey. Those of you who have been magazine subscribers over the years know that this is the most important thing I do.  In addition to a primer of herbal preparations, the book covers 30 important herbs, and offers over 60 simple,interesting, and helpful ways to use each one of them.

Its sister book by Susan Hess is called The Herbal Medicine Cookbook.  It is brimming with information and delicious, healing dishes and meals that help to support vitality and health.  I was thrilled to do some background work on the book.  During her years as a trained therapeutic herbalist, she has fed many of these dishes to her students during her Homestead Herbalism courses.  Some of you may remember posts from Molly while she enjoyed taking Susan's class series.  Now we can make these foods at home with the teachings that go with them included.

These two books (together or separate) are great resources for any herbalist to have in his or her library. Stick around as I share some helpful sneak peeks from each book over the coming weeks. I can't wait to share all this great information with you!

They'll be available January 15th.  Do something for yourself, or for someone you love.  These books will be referred to again and again!

Pre-order The Healing Power of Herbs here:
Pre-order The Herbal Medicine Cookbook here:

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Ginger Shortbread

Excerpt from Holiday Sweets with Exotic Herbs
originally published in the Nov/Dec '15 Essential Herbal Magazine
by Marcy Lautanen-Raleigh
Gingerbread seems to be a staple of the holiday, but it is not one of my favorite things.  In fact I do not even like making gingerbread houses!  I know sacrilegious, but I do like ginger and I love this great recipe for shortbread that uses crystallized ginger that will bring the flavor of the holiday to a traditional tea treat.

Ginger Shortbread
3 ½ C flour, plus extra for dusting while rolling dough
1 t ground ginger
½ t salt
12 T butter
½ C confectioners sugar
3 rounded T slightly crystallized honey

¾ C crystallized ginger, finely chopped
Sift together the flour, ground ginger, and salt.  Rub in the butter and stir in the sugar.  Mix in the honey and chopped crystallized ginger and form into stiff dough.  Knead lightly in the bowl. 
Halve the dough and roll out each piece on a lightly floured board to make an 8-inch circle.  Score wedges into the shortbread with a sharp knife and prick the top with a fork. 
Bake at 325 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until crisp and golden around the edges.  Sprinkle with a bit of confectioners sugar and leave to cool slightly before breaking apart and allowing to cool completely.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Bee’s Wax Solstice Ornaments

by Marci Tsohonis
Originally published in the Nov/Dec '17 issue of The Essential Herbal

I have a tradition of making Winter Solstice ornaments for our tree and for gifting, because they are hard to find in gift shops or online.  In years past, I have made clay, quilted, embroidered and felted wool ornaments.   I am making solar ornaments with Bee’s wax this year. 
Do you have Brown Bag clay cookie molds in the back of a drawer somewhere?   
You know, the ones you saved for making that cool homemade paper-craft project you have always meant to try?   I did!  Wax ornaments are my favorite way to use them now.  Some of the molds are too large for ornaments, but others are just perfect.  If you don’t have any, you can sometimes find them on the cheap at Antique stores.  I have acquired several that way.
I want to make a rubber mold of our Sol doorbell because it is the perfect size for a tree ornament. 
I could not locate any rubber mold making kits in our town, only acrylic clay mold material.  It didn’t hold the pressed image well, or, I didn’t do it correctly.  It lost some details when the clay relaxed.  I have since learned Amazon has the rubber mold material, but I couldn’t get it delivered in time to use it for this article. 
To make wax ornaments in the clay cookie molds, first spray 2-3 clean molds lightly with vegetable spray.  Arrange the molds on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or wax paper so you can reclaim any spilled wax.  Melt about 1 to 1½ cups of bee’s wax to 60 degrees in a wax-melting pitcher (or other small, metal container) in a saucepan with 2 inches of simmering water.   The metal container will allow the wax to stay fluid long enough to pour it into a few molds.  Using a ladle will not work well.  The edges cool so quickly that any pouring irregularities will be highly visible. 
Add one half teaspoon of Cassia essential oil to melted wax after it has cooled to 50 degrees.  Pour into cavities immediately, slightly under-filling each mold.  Tap the edge of the mold on the counter and release over a soft towel after they have cooled an hour or two.  Most will pop out of the cookie molds very easily.  If they don’t, refrigerate them for about 20 minutes and try again. 
To create a smooth hole for ribbon or string, heat the end of an ice pick or narrow paring knife over a stove burner or candle.  Press lightly, and the hot metal will easily pierce through the wax to create a smooth hole in the ornament.  If the edges are rough or irregular, heat the flat side of a butter knife and quickly smooth it over those areas of the ornament.  
 Happy holidays! 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

2019 Winter Holiday Specials and Gift Ideas

We have just a couple of "deals" that are valid through the end of the year.
#1 - all back issues are Buy 2, Get 1 FREE.  This is an automatic discount, and no code is necessary.
#2 - All purchases (US only) over $100 will be shipped FREE.
#3 - All boxed orders will get FREE gift, and I'll be trying to slip a little something in with envelopes of books, etc.

There are some interesting new things on the site.
We got in 10 or 12 new lightweight earring styles.  Beautiful and reasonably priced.
They're all light as a feather.
We got three different options for doing some for making Sun Prints.  Packages of treated 8 x 8 inch cotton patches, notecard kits, and tshirts.  Let your creativity go!
This is my first attempt, playing around with it the other day.  Yours would be much better, I'm sure.
 Gift Subscriptions - what a great way to give something special 6 times a year!  
Each issue is filled with all kinds of herbal goodness and wonder, generously

We have both print and PDF available in the US, and PDF is available worldwide.  For print, just provide your name and address in the billing section, and the recipient's info goes in the shipping section.  Would you like us to include a message in the gift card?  Just let us know in the comments section. 
For PDF, please provide the recipient's email address in the comments section.

Books that will inspire and delight
A very popular gift is the complete 10 Years of Herbal Knowledge in 3 volumes.  Someday we'll try to put together the third 5 years, but for now, this is really a spectacular compilation.

Beautiful and soft, the design uses 11 screen passes to capture the details - it's gorgeous!
Fire cider t-shirts are also welcome, as well as soaps, teas, and remedies.

A large selection of teas, soaps, tinctures, hydrosols, and much more.

Come take the website for a spin and you'll find gifts and stocking stuffers for everyone.

Incenses and the ingredients to make your own, too!
Rather than linking directly to each product, just come over to and look around.  There's a lot more than you see here.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Adventures with Shingles

As is often the case, we managed to slip a week of something intense into the schedule, with almost no visible disruption.  My sister stepped right up to the plate and covered for me on the magazine while also running her soap business and some other less pleasant responsibilities.  I know that I am extremely lucky to be able to just relax.  That is rare.  I want to share how many different modalities were used together.  In my mind, there is a place for all manner of healing, and they can help each other work better. 
One day a couple of weeks ago, I was working on the index for 2018 magazines (still need to work on that!), and felt as if I'd pulled a muscle around the right, rear rib cage.  Probably slouching in the desk chair.  It didn't go away, and by the third night it hurt so badly that I couldn't sleep.  Middle of the night Google had me on the phone first thing the next morning, sure that we were dealing with a ruptured gallbladder.  That may sound alarmist, but I've (just barely) survived a ruptured organ in the past, and the pain was similar.

The skin was becoming very tender along that side, but it was probably from my touching it, right? 

We get to the doctor, who does NOT mock me (much) for Googling in the middle of the night.  She asks how long I've had this rash.  WHAT??? 3 tiny little pinheads.  Not even blistered yet.
Once again, I am very fortunate.  It is very early in the course of this outbreak, meaning that anti-viral medication will help shorten the duration and severity.  I shudder to think how bad it could have been.  She sends me on my way with a prescription for Valtrex and for 5% lidocaine patches with instructions to use tylenol as needed.  The   patches are denied by my insurance, so the pharmacist suggests Aspercreme 4% patches.  Later insurance allowed the 5%, and that 1% made a huge difference.  Still, the Aspercreme patches were better than nothing.

When I got home, I posted on social media about it.  My friends didn't let me down.  I'd already planned to get Ravensara essential oil blended in Calophyllum from Nature's Gift, and Marge mentioned that it could be overnighted.  I foolishly passed on that, and wound up waiting a few days.
In the meantime I put some lemon balm hydrosol in a spray bottle, and mixed St John's wort and Lemon Balm tincture in a dropper bottle.  They were all very helpful.  Sometimes just spraying the lemon balm hydrosol stopped the pain briefly.  Maryanne bottled up some SJW infused oil for me.

Several people mentioned Vitamin B-12 and L-Lysine.  These both make perfect sense.  A couple people recommended an antihistamine for sleep.  Ah sleep, you elusive tease!

Sleep was the hardest thing.  I tried breathing exercises as well as Reiki, with moderate success, but it didn't allow sleep.  My rash was around my waist on one side, spine to navel.  It was impossible to get comfortable.  The same was true during the day, but night time brought a sense of eternal dread.  The doctor prescribed Gabapentin at a low dose.  It made me sleep, but first I had to spend a couple of hours retching. 
NOTE:  The first night, I'd also tried everything at once.  Everything.  At once.  That meant that I didn't know what caused the retching.  The next night I found out it was indeed the gabapentin, so no more of that.  She then prescribed a low dose of elavil.  That worked perfectly.  Don't try everything at one time.

Slowly but surely, the rash receded.  It never got oozy or scabby.  I believe that probably has a lot to do with the anti-viral medication, but the topicals were probably very valuable too.  10 days in, I'm only using a patch and an elavil at night, and that's probably only because of a fear of pain, more than the reality. 

I hope this helps someone.  As miserable as you might think this ailment is, it's much worse.  I hesitated to write this up because I know many purists who shun OTC and pharmaceuticals.  That's fine.  Generally speaking, I always reach for herbal and energetic medicines first, but there are times when we need to combine everything in the arsenol. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

November December 2018 Issue, The Essential Herbal Magazine

The new issue is out.  Lots of great ideas for holiday gifting and entertaining, as well as winter wellness and herbal information.

Order gift subscriptions easily from our website.  Just give the recipient's name and address in the shipping address, and yours in the billing address.  Leave any message for the giftee in the comments section, and we'll include it on a gift card.
Get a subscription for yourself!

Cover art by Laura McCarley.  See more:

Table of Contents

Field Notes from the Editor,
Tina Sams
Some rough seas in the herb world, but we can always count on the plants to show the way.
Oh, and keep an eye out for my next book!  

Celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas, Marcy Lautanen-Raleigh
Some ideas for enjoying the holidays with family, and a couple of recipes too.              

Advent Wreath, Susanna Reppert/Brill
Herbs add their meanings to the Advent wreath.                                                            

The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Rebekah Bailey
Travel along to the Tremayne Estate in Cornwall, England and learn the fascinating history of
these gardens.       

Glorious Goldenrod, Kristine Brown
Goldenrod is such a generous, loving plant.  Learn how to experience the benefits it has to offer.           

Sesame/Scallion Strudel, Rita Richardson
A lovely, savory treat, perfect for holiday entertaining.                                                  

The Season of Giving, Jenny Flores
Fabulous ideas for putting together gift baskets for loved ones.                                   

Your Fresh Christmas Tree, Maryanne Schwartz
You’ve got it in the house… Now what?                                                                        

Horticulture Therapy, Jackie Johnson
Gardens, working with plants, getting our hands dirty, and all aspects of being around plants is
something we need now more than ever. 

Botanical Nomenclature, Kathy Musser
Did you miss out on Latin classes in school?  Here are some tips to help.                     

Old Favorites, New Favorites, Molly Sams
Learning new plants to love across the continent.                                                          

Distilling Hydrosols, Tina Sams
We’ve been demonstrating the still a lot lately, and had requests for an article to explain how
it works, so I finally wrote it down.   

Sweet & Savory Treats, Marci Tsohonis
As much as I would like to be Marci’s neighbor, I know that it would be a very dangerous thing
for any semblance of “figure.”      

Holiday Herbs, Carol Ann Harlos
A quick primer on some of the herbs we use over the holidays                                      

Meet Our Writers
A new thing – we’re including a page about the writers included in the magazine.            
Hyssop, Sandy Michelsen
A plant with many uses, hyssop is an asset to any garden.  Find out why!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin