Saturday, December 26, 2015

Winter Solstice for the plants in Lancaster Co PA

I often use this blog as a sort of garden journal.  It helps me to know when it might be time to harvest something that is down in the woods or a car ride away.  It also reminds me of the weird years.  This is one of those.  I walked around looking at what was going on out there.  I still want to get down into the woods and check on some of the early spring plants but it's been very wet.  Hopefully it will just get cold the way it is supposed to, and that will be that.
Here are some of the things that I found to be unusual at this time of year:

Calendula ready to bloom

Nettles have never stopped sending up baby plants since the weather cooled.

The catnip is taking over a section of the garden.  Guess we'll be needing it.

I think this is clary sage - maybe borage - but there are many similar babies coming up in the area where both live in the garden.

Poor confused gooseberry.

The thyme is lush and beautiful!

This is chickweed overtaking small 2 or 3 year old firs.  Chickweed really seems to love conifers.

Chocolate peppermint.

There is always at least one violet in the side yard.

Native foxglove is very happy with this weather.

Daffodils.  They'll be back.
I didn't include the comfrey that continues to put out leaves that are then frost burned, then more new ones each time we see the sun.
I didn't include the mugwort that is coming up everywhere.  Or the tiny leaves on the elderberry bushes.

We are all aware of the many bugs and viruses that just keep going around and around, unphased by the meager cool breezes.  I don't want to think about ticks, mosquitoes, and stink bugs.  I hope it will get very cold, very soon.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Sick Day for An Herbie


So yesterday I came down with a terrible cough and sore throat coupled with what seemed to be a never-ending achy feeling. I was able to get through part of my day before collapsing on the couch for what felt like ten minute but was closer to four hours.

Luckily, I have a wonderful mother who has plenty of herbal know-how to get me through these not-so-fun days off and it reminds me that herbs are truly miraculous.

First thing mom did was generously share her clementines with me. Usually I do not have massive craving for these little orange orbs but after sleeping for hours and needing some sort of sustenance, these vitamin C packed fruits were perfect.

After I demolished her clementine reserves (sorry, Mom!) she made me some wonderful chicken noodle soup with buttery crackers. It was perfect after a day of raw weather, funky sleeping patterns, and (of course) forgetting to eat because I wanted to sleep.

Finally my mom made me a delicious licorice tea mixed with elderberry wine, fire cider, lemon, and ginger. It was amazing and was perfect for warming up and settling in for a nice sleep. So nice I only got through a cup and a half before I passed out.

If you are anything like me, it is really difficult to maintain momentum and focus when you are sick. Most of the time I will pick sleeping over almost anything in hopes that I will magically wake up well. Luckily my mother is able to keep her head on straight and make sure I have plenty of elderberry and ginger in my system so I feel better sooner.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Jan/Feb 2016 Essential Herbal cover and toc

Woo hoo!  Another year begins.   Inside this issue, you'll find warmth, hope, and lots of welcoming herbalists and herb enthusiasts just waiting to share the things they know.  This particular issue has a lot of information on staying cozy and warm, which often translates into steeping herbs.  There are a lot of great blends, along with history, hows and whys, and just enough "why nots?" to motivate you. 

Check out the table of contents below to get an idea of the good stuff included in this issue.  We're beginning our 15th year, and one thing is certain:  we will continue to include clear and inclusive instructions for using herbs in every single issue.  If you want to make herbs a joyous and simple part of your everyday life, we are the magazine you've been looking for.  Subscribe today and get started!  Print is available in the US and Canada.  Pdf version is available worldwide.
Table of Contents...
Field Notes
Some personal thoughts as we leap into our 15th year of publication.
About the Cover
Carey Jung talks about her inspiration for this issue’s cover.
Introduction to Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine, Daniel Cashman
A little history, and some information on how TCM is used today.
Beginner Medicinal Herbs for Children - Flu Season, Dawnmarie Schneider
Do you know how to dose a child with herbs? Some really helpful herbs and how to use them.
Clary Sage, Carol Ann Harlos
Learn about this gloriously showy and useful member of the Salvia family.
Toners, Tina Sams
Quick and easy facial toners to keep your skin feeling
Garden Journals, Jackie Johnson
Keeping track of what goes on from year to year is a valuable habit to acquire. Jackie talks about lots of things we might not have thought to include.
Returning to My Herbal Roots, Catherine Love
A year-end remembrance and return.
Greeting the Cold Moon, Jackie McDowell
Staying comfortable in the wintertime cold can be a challenge during the monthly cycles, but herbs can help.
February, Adrie Lester
A poem.
How’d We Get Here? Tina Sams
As our EH family has grown and grown, we realized that maybe some of you might like to “meet” us and hear a tiny bit of our story.
Kicking Crud with Cayenne, Kristine Brown
Cayenne—Herb of the Year—as only Kristine can write about it.
Pain: Herbs That Help, Suzan Tobias Scholl
What is pain and how can we use herbs to help deal with it?
Bohemian Rose Soap, Marci Tsohonis
With a name like that, what else do you need to know? I want that soap!!!
Combating Stress & Sadness with Herbs, Michelle Pfaff
Personal experience is unfortunately a great teacher.
Cupcake Tin Herb Cubes, Rita Richardson
Preserving herbs.
Surviving the Long Winter, Debbie Sturdevant
Great suggestions for pulling through and getting to the other side along with a beautiful illustration, also by Debbie.
Tea Time, Sandy Michelsen
Some tea history, and wonderful blends you can make. Perfect for relaxing with a good book.
Spring Cleaning with Herbs, Marcy Lautanen-Raleigh
Non-toxic, natural cleaning solutions are less expensive and less damaging to our skin, surfaces, and the environment.
Tea Crafting for Winter Wellness, Kori Rodley
Some great herbal teas to support and assist in the winter.
We know that everyone will love this issue.  From the striking cover, to the pages filled with ideas, recipes, and information, and even to the sources shown in the ads, it's a stunner!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Stubbornly Beautiful

Early Friday I was able to run around looking at the garden before the tiny human came. Mom originally saw the Elder tree still growing leaves and could not get over how untimely its new leaves were. I decided with my time I would go out and explore. I was shocked by what was still fighting through the chill and what had accepted their bedtime until spring. Here is some pictures of what I found.

Elder tree leaves still reaching for the sky.

Like me, Echinacea has fully embraced the snooze button.
Spoke too soon.
And of course, a bit of Christmas cheer!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Really Big Show

Micro Business Over the Holidays - for the uninitiated.
To the tune of "Do the Hustle"

Normally I wouldn't feel able to write about this because I'd be in the thick of it myself.  This year I had the wind knocked out of me in November (literally!) and decided not to enter the competition this year.  By that, I mean the marketing and promotion of holiday and gift-giving season for my business.  For as long as I can remember, it has just been "what we do."

The first lesson came to us in our herb shop 20-some years ago.  All through November of that first year in business, we watched the cars fly past.  Back and forth to the mall. On Dec 13th of that year at a family gathering, a brother-in-law who worked for a large retail chain (at the mall) told me that if we hadn't done it yet, we should consider the season over.  I was crushed.
He was wrong though. 
In the next 2 weeks we managed to take in the equivalent of about 3 previous months.

And that's the thing.  Micro-businesses fly under everyone's radar.  We don't necessarily notice things like Black Friday or Cyber Monday.  Well... that's not really true.  We notice.  They don't necessarily notice us.  Sort of like being the short kid waiting to be picked for a team of basketball in gym class.  The general rule-of-thumb business-type-conventional-wisdom has nothing to do with us.  Some brick and mortar businesses with a good location will be swept along with the big boys and benefit.  Occasionally, an unsolicited online shout out will push an artist into unknown territory (aka success).  You just never know.

Tiny little businesses like us are really put to the test over the holidays.  Those old shop days I talk about above happened without web site or social media to worry about taking care of.  It was just the physical shop and the two of us doing everything.  Maybe a few mail orders.  And we were STILL exhausted. I'm talking about businesses of only a couple people (or just one).  Shopkeepers who tend their own shops, makers who make and market their own goods, food and beverage makers who prepare and serve it themselves; truly small business.  I'm not even sure we qualify as "cottage" industry.  All year long, it can be pretty tough to get everything done, but suddenly you've got to compete with so-called small businesses who actually have a budget for on-line campaigns, extra workers, and marketing!  It can be incredibly daunting.  I am surprised how happy I am to not be trying to keep up this year.  Oh... I posted a few things, but nothing in comparison to the way I have worked through this season in the past.

So I'm not sure.  Maybe I'll drop out of this particular race forevermore.  Maybe January/Feb should be the time for a little push.  Maybe ...  Maybe not all businesses need to be a part of every bonanza.  I'm not sure it has made any difference.  I'll have to look over the paperwork at the end of the month, but expect that it won't look much different this year from last - without knocking myself out.  I sort of hope that's what I'll find.  Imagine how freeing that will be!

Sunday, December 06, 2015

A Stocking Full of Stuff Under $10

This morning, I started thinking about all of the great little items we have here that over the years have been purchased as stocking stuffers, office gifts, teacher gifts, hostess gifts - and so on.  Instead of making you dig through the whole website looking for inexpensive gifts, let me show you!  Everything pictured or discussed will be under $10.
Okay - let's go!

 You'll find small incenses (the incense matches are really great for changing the air in small spaces fast), and Palo Santo sticks.  We've got a lot of tea blends, heat sealable tea bags, infusers, and varied implements.  A nice mug with a couple ounces of different teas and an infuser makes a nice gift.  A handful of incenses in the stocking...

 We have 7 or 8 small books that address single topics.  They're very popular and contain lots of fun projects for everyone from beginners to seasoned herbalists.

 Single issues of the magazine are great, and the information never goes out of date!  We have several years of single back issues listed on the site to choose from.  
Soap, soap, soap!  Our handmade soaps have been spreading cheer (and bubbles!) for over 20 years and we have people who have come back every single year to restock.  Well over 25 varieties to choose from, we're sure you'll find something you'll love.

 Solid perfumes/lotion bars - now including Dude and Patchouli - are always popular, especially the Amber.  They are also called lotion bars because they work so well on dry patches!
 Lipbalms - who doesn't need a few of these as the cold winds blow?

Tub teas are herb blends that have been neatly sealed into large tea bags.  We recommend brewing them in a large pitcher full of very hot water while the tub runs, and then pouring the well steeped tea into the tub.

See?  Lots of great ideas, right?