Thursday, September 17, 2015

Review - The Home Reference to Holistic Health and Healing

The Home Reference to Holistic Health and Healing by Brigitte Mars and Chrystle Fiedler

 Review by Molly Sams
I truly can say that I adored reading this book. I had not read the first in the collection but the second book seemed to be exactly what the doctor ordered. This book helps you find out how to take care of yourself and the ones you love with holistic methods. While many holistic books discuss first aid with herbs or how to treat physical ailments this book went deeper and discussed points about complete medicine and herbalism and how it can help those with emotional or mental strife.

Unlike other sources I have read throughout the years this book is honest and simple in its instructions and suggestions. It teaches basics of using herbs in self care, stress management, and other aspects of life that many may be struggling to maintain. I really enjoyed learning new practices and many times affirming ones I already put into place. This book is a wonderful cheerleader and guide for anyone who needs a pick-me-up or new ways or ideas to practice self-care.

Chill Out

This book goes into great detail about taking time for yourself and those you love. It explains in plain and in scientific language why it is important to calm down and enjoy the present. While I found myself having to reread the more scientific sections of the book I found it beneficial. It showed that there is scientific support for holistic and herbal medicine in the world. It is not all just based off assumptions or traditions, as some would believe.

In the book there are also several suggestions on how to do calm down and enjoy the present. While journaling or meditation may come naturally to some, Mars and Fiedler explain other examples such as cooking a healthy meal to remind yourself you are worth nourishment or herbal crafts (dream pillows, sachets, potpourri, etc.). I personally enjoyed the message behind each craft. They often had a purpose to calm you down, encourage deep breathing, or to ease anxiety or panic attacks.

Take Care

Mars and Fiedler also go into how to maintain the body with diet and exercise creating a book that teaches you how to nourish and care for every part of the body as well as the mind. I appreciated that the authors discussed the importance of food and movement in their book as well as herbs. It reminded me of Sue Hess when she would say in Homestead Herbalism, “Food is medicine.” Since I was young my mother had always instilled this in me and I was happy to be reminded through my class and again through this book about this important fact. Without wholesome food our body suffers and is unable to take care of us properly.

The book also reminded me that herbs are (and should) also be seen as food instead of just supplements. In the book they discussed many herbs being used as main ingredients in recipes, which I found encouraging. It makes herbalism much more approachable to some who may be new to it or do not completely understand the many aspects of each plant. By respecting and using each possible source (food, herbalism, exercise, and rest) you are even more capable to care for yourself than you would be if you focused on one aspect. Instead of encouraging you to fixate on a diet, a exercise routine, or constant pampering Mars and Fiedler want their readers to focus on the whole. It may seem simple but many of us – including me – need to be reminded every now and then.

Have Fun

Finally the authors discussed the importance of letting go of stresses and maintaining a calm and sustainable life. Possibly my favorite section discussed mourning and grieving. Their ideas for dealing with this natural part of life were easily executed but unimagined before, well by me anyway. I loved that they discussed setting goals for one’s self while mourning the loss of a loved one or the ending of a relationship. That way you can encourage yourself and give others a way to support you. They even gave advice to those who may be supporting a friend or loved one who is mourning a loss of some sort. I don’t believe this role is often discussed in society so many shy away from the position for fear they will further hurt the person grieving. By telling their reader possible ways to support and talk to their saddened loved ones it may strengthen connections or create new ones.

Not only is this a wonderful book about herbalism it is a wonderful book about healing in general. The two authors created a thoughtful reference for anyone who wants to learn more about self-care or how to support himself or herself or loved ones in cases other than emergency or medical.

For those who wish to learn more about herbalism from a mental and emotional stand point or those who simply want to know more based on medical or scientific levels I seriously recommend this book. You will be able to come back to it again and again for a medley of ailments, advice, or just a few ideas. Happy reading!
You can get the book HERE

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Hawk Mountain Hike

Adventures on Hawk Mountain

posted by Molly Sams

Joe Pye weed rising high towards the sun.
Today was a sort of last-ditch effort to soak up some sun before fall. I love fall as much as the next person but I know that it won’t be long before I’m too cozy and full of warm tea to want to go for a hike. So a few of my friends and I decided to run around Hawk Mountain and see what we could see.

I was happily surprised by how beautiful it was. The woods were almost covered with Goldenrod, Summersweet and Coral Honeysuckle! It was stunning and I had an amazing time climbing all over the rocks finding new plants, berries, and a few friendly chipmunks along the way. While it was not the easiest hike I’ve ever done, it was one of my most rewarding.

Don't know this flower.  My mom used to string it to make necklaces in her childhood, and calls it "Stock" but not sure.
If you’re in the area I would strongly suggest stopping by to see the park. They have wonderfully mapped out paths and even throw a native plant sale in late September. I know if I can make it I’ll be there.  For directions and information, here's the WEBSITE.

During migration, the sky is full of hawks playing on the currents.  I also found a couple other plants through my travels. Take a look!

Coral Honeysuckle
New England Aster - covered in the current issue by Kristine Brown.
Turtlehead.  If you look closely, you'll also see Blue Cohosh leaves and some jewelweed up in the corner.

Doll's Eyes or White Baneberry

Sunday, September 06, 2015

A Peck of Peppers

I have the great good fortune to get surprise CSA shares from time to time.  One showed up on the counter the other day.  Usually I tear right into them and start cooking, but it's been pretty busy around here AND I couldn't quite figure out what to do with the produce this time.  Along with the corn and mesclun and kale and such, there was a huge number of sweet orange peppers, a red bell pepper, a yellow pepper, some gorgeous tomatoes, and a couple big onions.
They sat on the counter and mocked me for a couple of days.
This morning, one of the tomatoes started leaking juice, so I knew the time had come.
Except that time is the one thing in short supply right now.
I decided to chop everything up and throw it in the oven together with a healthy splash of olive oil and some freshly ground pepper.  No herbs were added so that it will be more versatile when they are put to use.
Oh... within 15 minutes, the scent wafting from the oven was glorious!
Another hour and a half, and they were softened and mellowed and perfect.
Packed up for the freezer, they'll be welcome additions to all kinds of soups, stews, and even sandwiches.   I may have to get more!
We always get lots of green peppers and onions to chop up and freeze by the cupful.  This is a new and wonderful thing for us, though.

Tomorrow, it's on to apple and pear sauce.