Sunday, March 10, 2019

Freshen the Carpet for Spring - Naturally!

In the Mar/Apr '19 Essential Herbal issue
Excerpt from Green Cleaning with Essential Oils
Amber M. LaBorde (

We love this idea for freshening up winter-weary carpeting. 

Natural Carpet Cleaner

½-cup baking soda
8 drops of essential oil
Add the essential oil to the baking soda and mix thoroughly.
Sprinkle on carpet.
Wait 10 minutes, and then vacuum thoroughly.

Make fresh for each use.
Do not apply to wet patches on the carpet!  

Of course I had to make some, right? 
I had some  ancient (25 year old) jasmine absolute laying around.  This is a good application for old oils that you might not want to use on skin or diffused.
No plastic containers are single use in this house.  Parmesan topping jars are treasured!  They're perfect for stuff like this.

I need to add some kind of botanical to the mix so that I can see that no parts of the carpet have been missed.  This is something I try to do pretty often with just crumbled (old) herbs when vacuuming.  It keeps everything smelling fresh, too. .

Happy Spring. 
There are more natural cleaning ideas in the magazine, and even more will be in May/June!

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Schleppin’ Around Niles Canyon, Molly Sams

Today we have a post from Molly.  She's been in California for over a year, and it seems that she's found what she was looking for - travel, adventure, new experiences, and independence.

I'm happy that she has found some time and inspiration to send in a post! 
In the canyon
Schleppin’ Around Niles Canyon

Recently I moved to Fremont CA and I gotta be real – I’m in love. On my way to work I see mountains everyday (sometimes with snow), there are plants everywhere, and my roommates are so excited to try new herbs and recipes.

I’m also a five-minute drive away from one of my favorite tiny towns ever. Niles is a small town nestled in the mountains that Charlie Chaplin used in many of his films. But there is more than just the silent film festivals and museum (though they are both dope.)
Downtown with friends
Niles is home to a beautiful tea shop that transports me right back to TheRosemary House. It also has Devout Coffee, friendly kittens, and really, really good food. It is also home to the beautiful Niles Canyon.

Figs, goat cheese, and deliciousness on great bread.
In the canyon there are hundreds of plants and wildlife that are native to California. It actually took us two days to hike it (luckily I live close) and we still only saw a small bit of the trail. Part of the reason it took us two days was because it is the rainy season right now in my neck of the woods. However this is why there are so many flowers, fruits, and plants thriving right now. So I have to see them before they’re gone!
I think this is Buddha's Hand fruit.
Unfortunately we had to go on the safer bits since the trails deeper in the canyon have been washed out. But on it we found some nice fruits, plenty of plantain, and more mullein than we’ve seen in months. With that I had to snag a little raspberry leaf. 
Eucalyptus blooming.  I asked Molly to be on the lookout for this beauty.
I was thrilled to do so and it helped me sort of review what to take on weed walks. I have forgotten so much but next time I’ll be more prepared. For those that might be rusty as well I forgot to bring:

1. Plastic baggies or sturdy reusable ones
2. Jars.
3. A small shovel
Can anyone help me out on an ID of this tree?  It's very pretty!
But I was lucky enough to remember to take plenty of pictures of my old flora-friends and some new ones as well. Whaddya think?

Friday, February 15, 2019

Essential Herbal - March/April 2019

The new issue is in the mail.  It should reach subscribers by the beginning of March.  PDF subscribers will receive an email on Feb 20th.  As always, we love the articles and artwork, and love our advertisers! 
Here is the gorgeous cover and the Table of Contents.  Start your subscription at:

Field Notes from the Editor, Tina Sams
The funny way time has of stretching and bending – unlike my not so young body.

Debra Sturdevant
Lush foraging on the spring forest floor.  A dream of spring.                                                                      
A Garden Journey, Rebekah Bailey
A new (old) house comes with lots of challenges and possibilities.                                                           
Green Cleaning with Essential Oils, Amber M LaBorde                                                                             
Safety information and then LOTS of ideas and recipes!
Springtime Focus @ Still Room Herbs, Catherine Love
Looking closely at the plants already close by. And shortbread!                                                              
Pansies, Sandy Michelsen
History, folklore, and remedies from the carefree pansy.                                                                         
Puzzle Page, Danielle Bergum
A Sudoku and a Nonogram                                                                                                                              
Saving Slippery Elm, Kristine Brown, RH (AHD)
Part of The Native Medicinal Plant Awareness Project through in conjunction with and in honor of the 25th anniversary of the existence of United Plant Savers.                                                                                                                     
Assessing Your Garden, Kathy Musser
Taking stock before digging in.                                                                                                                        
Helpful Weeds for a Spring Garden, Marcy Lautanen-Raleigh
What is a weed, anyway?  A gift!                                                                                                                    
Herbal Agonists of CB1 & CB2, Marita Orr
“Plants that mimic the biological activity of classical cannabinoids, despite not sharing their structure.”         
Herbs to Relish, Rita Richardson
Scrumptious relishes and sauces for the coming garden season.                                                            
Garden Journals, Jackie Johnson
Keeping track of what worked, what didn’t, and how you did that.                                                         
Puzzle Solutions                                                                                                                                                 
Fully Loaded, Handmade Soap, Marci Tsohonis
Welcome back Marci!  A recipe and full instructions for a stunning luxurious bar of soap.               
Meet Our Contributors     

We've been stocking the shop with lots of new stuff over the last couple of months, so take a moment and look around!

Friday, January 18, 2019

The Healing Power of Herbs - Released!

In early July of last year I started writing, and here we are in the very beginning of the new year already printed and released.  I LOVED this schedule.  It fit between magazine deadlines! I really like the way the book turned out, too.
Here are some visuals (because I have talked enough about this)...

Click on the image to read!
It is now available.
You can purchase it from The Essential Herbal
It is available on Amazon
Ask your local bookstore to get a few copies!  Keep those bookstores alive!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Free back issue to download!

Initially, I shared this issue to thank folks for sticking around while I posted incessantly about the new books (see the end of post).  It was very well received, so I'm sharing it further.  It's a couple of years old, but still an excellent example of what we do here.  Please enjoy, and if you like it, share it!

What book, you ask???
 The Healing Power of Herbs!

Available on Amazon
Or on our website

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Warm Up with Ginger

Ginger  (Zingiber officianale)
Mary Ellen Wilcox
Mar/Apr '12 Essential Herbal Magazine

      The legends of the ancient world abound with stories of the magical powers of spices, ginger being among them.  It grew extensively in China, and was one of the spices revered by Emperor Shen-Nung, founder of Chinese medicine, who lived in about 2800 BC.  He consumed large quantities of ground spices each day to preserve health and prolong his life.

      In 550 BC Confucius advised his followers not to eat any food that was not properly flavored with spices.  Ships traveling between ports at that time carried pots of fresh ginger to prevent scurvy among the sailors.  In early practices of Chinese medicine ginger was recommended as a heart strengthener.

     In early Hindu medicine ginger was used to treat liver problems, rheumatism and jaundice.  Given the approval of Islam, it was mentioned in the Koran as a medicine.  The Greek physician Dioscorides referred to ginger’s warming effect on the stomach as an aid to digestion and an antidote to poison.  The English have always been taken with ginger.  Henry VIII ate huge quantities of it to protect against the plague.  American Indians made a decoction of root ginger for stomach upsets.  Ginger is part of many cures for the common cold.  One is a blend of ginger, white horseradish, hyssop and coltsfoot.  Another is a mixture of ground ginger, cinnamon, mustard seed and cayenne pepper  made into a paste with honey.  This is smeared on a piece of flannel and is placed on the chest and covered with warm clothing.  This is said to relieve chest congestion.

      To enjoy the soothing powers of ginger, make a tea:

2-1/2 cups water
½ oz. bruised ginger root or powdered ginger.

   Put the bruised root or powder in a pot and pour boiling water over it.  Let set for ½ hour, strain liquid, and allow to cool.  Take 2 tbsp. at a time.

   In addition to the medicinal attributes of ginger, it is used extensively in cooking and baking, and is available in several forms.  Fresh ginger is the type sold in grocery stores.  The smooth skin is tan colored.  The texture is crunchy with a strong scent.  Do not buy ginger with wrinkled skin, as it will not be fresh.  To store fresh ginger, wrap it first in paper towel, then tightly in plastic wrap.  It should keep this way in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks.  Preserved ginger is cooked and packed in heavy sugar syrup.  It can be used in baking or is delicious spooned over fruit.  Crystallized ginger, also known as candied ginger is cooked in a sweet syrup, cooled, and coated in sugar.  It can be nibbled as a candy, or added to cookie recipes.  Ground ginger has a different flavor and is not as pungent or strong.  It should not be substituted for fresh gingers.  It is excellent for  gingerbread, spice cake,  or gingerbread cutouts at Christmastime.

     Ginger is grown in several locations around the world.  In their travels the Portuguese planted it down the coast of Africa, so now it is produced in Sierra Leone and Nigeria.  Further afield, it grows in Thailand, Taiwan, Australia and China.  The Spanish planted the rhizomes in Jamaica.  Jamaican ginger is considered the finest in the world.  The majority of ginger imported to the U.S. is from Jamaica.  England and the U.S. are the biggest users of the spice.

Some ginger recipes:

Molasses Loaf

8 tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 cup molasses
2 large eggs
2 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt (optional)
1 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup walnuts

   Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Mix together the butter, molasses and eggs.  Sift the flour, baking powder, spices and salt into another bowl.  Stir in oats.  Gradually mix in the molasses mixture and sour cream.  Fold in raisins and walnuts.  Spoon the batter into a loaf pan.  Bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn out on rack and cool.

Nectarine Chutney

10 large nectarines, pitted and quartered
2 large apple, chopped
Grated rind of 3 lemons
1 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1-1/2 cup raisins
2 inch piece fresh ginger root, bruised
2 cloves garlic, crushed
6 black peppercorns
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 cup white wine vinegar

   Put the nectarines, apples, lemon rind and juice, sugar, walnuts, raisins, ginger, garlic, peppercorns, cayenne, cinnamon and half the vinegar in a saucepan.  Stir well and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the remaining vinegar and continue simmering, stirring occasionally for 1-1/2 hours or until the chutney is thick.  Ladle into jars.  Label and store in refrigerator.

Ginger Walnut Biscotti

2 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup candied ginger, chopped

   Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment paper.  Whisk the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl to blend.  Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter, lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl.  Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time.  Add the flour mixture an beat just until blended.  Stir in walnuts and ginger.

   Form the dough into a 13-inch long and 3-inch wide log on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake until light golden brown, about 40 minutes.  Cool 30 minutes.

   Place the log on the cutting board.  Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices.  Arrange the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet.  Bake the biscotti until they are pale golden, about 15 minutes.  Transfer the biscotti to a rack and cool completely.  Store in airtight container for up to 4 days.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Slough Off the Old, in With the New You

Cathy Calfchild
Jan/Feb 18 Essential Herbal Magazine

Winter has a terrible way of making our skin suffer so, from wind burn to dehydration, lack of vitamin D.  Not to mention all the covering up one must do that doesn't allow our skin to just breathe, no wonder after the winter season our skin is looking a little worse for wear. 
It's nice to include a simple facial scrub that is gentle enough you can use it daily or a couple times a week as needed. Very easy to do with few ingredients and can be whipped up in a matter of minutes. Since this scrub is completely natural with no preservatives you must keep it in the fridge and use up within a week. It is for this reason we only make small batches. If you need to use it up, it can also double as a scrub on rough parts of the body as well.

Honey Nut facial scrub.
1 tsp dried lavender buds
1 tbsp raw peanuts
2 tbsp raw honey

If you have a nut allergy you can replace the nuts with soybeans or even powdered peach or avocado pit. It is best to use raw because of the natural oils contained within the nut that will be released once you purée the nuts and add benefit to your scrub.

- Powder lavender buds and set aside.  Powder raw nuts in a coffee grinder until you get a smooth consistency.  Any nuts can be used.
- Combine two together until you get a powdery mealy kind of texture. Kind of like when combining shortbread and it's crumbly but can hold together when you clump it together.
- Add two tbsp of raw honey as it will have healthy properties not boiled off in the heating process of pasteurization.  Combine all together until it forms a nice thick paste.  Keep in a small glass jar covered.

- When applying to the face it's important to remember that adding fingers to the container introduces pathogens and contaminates the scrub, so it's always best to take a clean teaspoon and take a level amount onto your hand and disperse it all around your cheeks, chin, nose temples and forehead. Avoid eye area.
-You might also find that this scrub drags a little from the honey, so what I do is add a touch of warm water to the tips of my fingers, you only need to moisten them a little bit and then rub the scrub in circular motions all around  your face for about 2 minutes. 
- Wash off using a warm cloth as it's very easy to remove and since the ingredients are powdered, it won't clog your drain.
- If you find your skin needs more oils, then add half a teaspoon of grapeseed oil and thst should also take care of the dragging issue and you won't need to moisten your fingertips.   I wouldn't put a high end oil in this as it is a wash off product and those expensive oils would be best as a leave on serum instead.
Happy scrubbing.

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