Thursday, March 31, 2022

Just the Essentials Newsletter - from March 27

We put out a newsletter that is a little less sporadic than this blog.  You can sign up on our website very easily.  Then eventually if I think it's interesting, I will copy over the informational parts here.  Sometimes.  When I remember.

As the end of March is right around the corner, here in PA it's leaving like a lion, with a possibility of flurries in the night on Wednesday. I remember thinking we were getting the lamb when March blew in. In my yard, the birds are already doing their twitter-pated dances, and singing at the crack of dawn. I see them swooping around with bits of twigs and grasses in their beaks. They know spring is here!

In the meantime, we're also looking at the deadline for the next (May/June) issue that will come out April 20 - so I thought I'd send a note before we get buried in that work.


Viola spp. has been chosen as the Herb of the Year by the Intl. Herb Assoc. In the Jan/Feb issue, Kristine covered the herb, and this is an excerpt. I chose it to post here because it's an unusual but very useful way of preserving violets for use.

Violet Paste
Kristine Brown RH(AHG)

This paste is great to help soothe asore throat, ease a cough, relieve constipation, or to resolve a headache. 

1 cup Violet blossoms (packed)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 cups honey

In a mortar and pestle or blender, combine the blossoms, lemon juice and water into a thick paste.
Blend honey in very well, using a spoon if combining in a mortar and pestle. 
Place in a wide mouthed jar and store in a cold place (the freezer is best). 

To use: 
For easing those with coughs, constipation, headaches and grief, give 1/4 teaspoon at a time, once an hour or so, as needed until relief is sought.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart yourself), check out Kristine’s newest – HERB CLUB!  I wish this would have been around when Molly was little!


For the last several years, whenever I use dandelions for anything (I love to add the petals to baked goods, or the buds in salads and eggs) I get lectured online by people telling me that I am taking the bees' food.

I'm not sure where these people live, but around here many, many flowers bloom weeks before dandelion. Besides those pictured above, there are speedwell, various cresses, and all kinds of trees. All of the spring bulbs are up and blooming. I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't think about the creatures we share the earth with, but at the same time, the warnings about dandelions have a lot more to do with using chemical weed-killers than with learning how to incorporate these lovely greens and blossoms into our foods and medicines. There really are enough of these very prolific weeds for all of us to share.


That's it for now. Thank you for helping to make The Big Book of Herbal Medicine such a hit! It's been a #1 New Release on Amazon since it released on March 1. :-)

Happy Spring! 

Monday, March 28, 2022

Saving the other knee... (weight)

 Did you know that every extra pound that you carry is hard on your knees and hips?  Each counts as 4 pounds on the knees and 6 pounds on the hips.
As the New Year approached this year, I eavesdropped on a thread on Twitter where someone asked their friends for suggestions on good plans on reaching a healthy weight.  There were several options, but The 17 Day Diet struck me.  I can do anything for 17 days, right?  It allowed me to go into surgery 20 pounds lighter. 
Then I kind of slipped and Girl Scout cookies came out... So I'm about to start again on the first of the month.  It's really good, and my cholesterol was good enough that my doctor wrote to congratulate me. 
I took pictures along the way to keep myself motivated.  Although I quit with the pics on day 15, I'm posting them here - as much for myself as for anyone interested.  I took the pics because the food was appetizing and pretty colorful.  I wanted to keep a record so that I'd remembered what I liked and what we didn't need to do again.
Here we go.  On the first day I didn't think of it until dinner.

Day 2

It turns out that pears and berries in Breakstone's live culture cottage cheese is a good breakfast.
Chicken, onions, and Brussels sprouts for lunch.  Rotisserie chicken was my friend.


Flounder with cauliflower and broccoli.  Not bad with some olive oil spread
I'd always stuck with butter, but this wasn't bad and the results were great.

Day 3

Berries and scrambled eggs for breakfast. 

Chicken with cauliflower and broccoli for either lunch or dinner.
This will quickly get boring.

Day 4

Starting to get very boring.  I see some sauce in the bottom there.

Some carrots and preserved lemons with the salmon and purple broccoli.
I don't like purple broccoli.  In the dark, there's no difference in taste, but...

Day 5

An orange and yogurt for breakfast.

Getting rid of that broccoli.  We don't need to do that again.

Here we have realized that a little salsa on that fish will
make a big difference.  The next day I went on a salsa and
dressing spree at the store.

Day 6 

There were berries nearly every day.  And I love scrambled eggs.

Tossed salad with chicken.  Not bad, but it was cold weather.
It didn't satisfy for lunch and dinner like a hot meal.

Day 7

Here we have berries, cottage cheese, and pear slices.
I tried a sprinkle of matcha on the cheese.  Once. 
Not a fan.

Salad with a little chicken.

All the veggies!  Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and snow peas.
Chicken with salsa.

Day 8

Apple with eggs, and a side of Benefiber probiotic powder.
This plan encourages some form of probiotic daily.

Beautiful, delicious haddock covered in salsa with snow peas.

Day 9

  That's a small fiber filled muffin.
I notice I've started taking CLA (eh...nah) and there's
an elderberry gummy there.

Haddock, salsa, and cauliflower

Day 10

Tossed salad with warm chicken.

Day 11

I had to have a bunch of pre-surgical tests done, so couldn't eat
until mid afternoon.  Yogurt, grapefruit, AND eggs!  Oh boy :-)

This is about when I realized that flounder doesn't have much flavor unless
you can fry it in butter.  Lots of veggies.  That's Molly McButter on the asparagus. 
Not as good as the olive spread.

Salmon on salad.  I'm surprised to see so much salad.
I don't remember that...

Day 12

ALL the berries!  I really felt like I was pampering myself
on this plan. 

This is a meal that I'd order at a restaurant, so it
wasn't hard to take.

Day 13

I will admit to starting to get pretty bored at this point.
I got some small batch sauerkraut to use as a condiment.
That jazzed up the cooked cabbage.

This is where I discover the cauliflower "rice" blends
and various options.  Game-changer!

Day 14

Yogurt with berries.  This was a lemon yogurt with
no sugar/sweetener and they just waved the lemon
over the vat.  I'd rather use some with more flavor and
risk not losing that 1/10th of an ounce that day.

Just a pinch of grated Parm made a huge difference in
this chicken and veggies lunch.

There's that cauliflower rice again. 

Day 15

Haddock, asparagus, cauli-rice, and some salsa.

 There were a few specific "rules" to follow.
-8+ glasses of water every day. 
-Nothing to eat after 6pm
-2 T olive oil in meals each day
-17 minutes of exercises/day
-no fruit after 2pm

Now that I put this up here, I can't wait to get started again! 
I learned that I like haddock the best of the typical white fish varieties in the store. 
My local store offers both snow peas and sugar snap peas fresh.  Snow peas, fresh or frozen at this time of year are not great, but the sugar snap peas are wonderful.

That's about it.  I have 3 days to get stocked and get any junk out of here! 

Note... when I did this, standing and doing dishes on my bad knee wasn't happening.  Hence the paper plates.  They were there for a reason.  Now I can use my regular dishes.                         

Monday, March 07, 2022

Sale on "Through the Seasons"

Throughout the month of March 2022, you can get a $15 discount on the GIANT, 5 year compilation of The Essential Herbal. 
This volume includes the articles, recipes, lore, and everything wonderful from the magazines, but to make it even better, we combed through them and created chapters.  It's really almost like 5 or 6 books in one.  Then, we indexed it thoroughly.  Here's the INDEX.
Shop our books HERE

People often ask us when we'll be doing the next 2 five year compilations.  The first two (By the Hearth and Under the Sun), which combine to cover our first 5 years, are down to double digits.  There are a few hundred Through the Seasons left.  That doesn't sound like much, but only 10 fit in a box.  The book room downstairs holds those 3 books, boxes of all the small booklets - Lavender, Elderberry, Balms & Salves, Etc. - and then a few hundred of the 4 that were published in the last 5 years.  It's full!  Almost all of our back issues have sold out, so we're getting there!

So this month, I'd like to clear out a few more boxes.  Instead of $45, the print version is now $30.  The PDF is $15.  We know you'll love it. 

Friday, March 04, 2022

Knee Surgery and Recovery

This topic isn't for everyone, but I would have loved to have known some of this stuff going in.  Of course all of us are different, but I think I can offer some reassurance and possibly helpful advice.

I am 5 weeks out now and my strength and stamina are returning.  At night I still take an OTC pain reliever, Tylenol for me.

So first, let's talk about preparation.
You will need someone to stay with you.  2 weeks is probably enough, 3 is better.
The good news is that you will be able to shower and use the toilet alone from day one.
The bad news is that those things take ALL of your energy and strength, and so someone to prepare meals and keep track of meds is important.

I had 2 months to think about it (thanks COVID), so preparations were pretty extensive.  For instance:
~ My daughter installed the bidet that I'd purchased and couldn't figure out during the toilet paper shortage.
~ I cooked TONS of chicken, fish, soups, etc., and had lots of veggies in the freezer for easy meals.

~ During a pre-op physical therapy appointment, the therapist told me that keeping knees up didn't mean on the recliner.  They need to be higher than the heart.  So I got a wedge.

~ Ordered a simple framework for around the toilet so that there was something to help for up and down.  I honestly wish I had gotten this months earlier, because it took so much pressure off the knee.

~ Got a couple vacuum grips for the shower.

~ Borrowed a shower seat.  Thanks Julie!  It's almost time for it to go home.

~ Borrowed my sister's walker from her back surgery last year.  That thing has been used about 10 times all together.  Quickly graduated to a cane.
CORRECTION:  For the first week or 10 days, I used it constantly to get around the house.  I forgot.

~ A pre-surg class suggested asking for a second ice pack (the hospital provided - and they are great!)

So what's it like? 
The day of surgery, they will get you up.  You will not like it.  Most of the pain meds from surgery will have worn off. Then you will get better meds and it will never be that bad again. 
You will go to a quick physical therapy lesson, to learn how to get into the car, etc.  I only remembered that a few days ago.  Then you go home.  I stayed overnight because of a pre-existing condition, but many people go home the same day.

That first week is kind of fuzzy.  I kept my feet up and my knee well iced, and didn't have any swelling, which is apparently atypical.  About day 3 I went to physical therapy, but don't remember it.  Mostly it was my sister giving me food, liquids, and meds. 

At about 10 days, the staples were removed and a new, lighter dressing was applied for another week.

Then there was PT twice a week.  I love the office we use.  It's gentle and although I was warned that it would be terribly painful, that wasn't my experience at all. 
CORRECTION:  Those meds really messed with my memory!  Talking to my therapist yesterday, she reminded me that in the beginning I did not enjoy her pushing me to bend further, and I whined a good bit about the whole thing hahaha.
By the end of the second or third (?) week, it was time to cut back on meds, but I didn't want to.  I was grumpy at PT, and luckily for me, my therapist was firm and told me that it was up to me how miserable this was going to be, but I needed to get it together.  That was it.  I turned a corner and only took meds for sleep or if I was going to PT.  It started to get a lot better fast. 

The third and fourth week are when you start remembering things.  Like... the night before surgery, after I took that purifying shower, I ran the dishwasher and noticed there was dirty water all over the kitchen floor.  Maryanne's husband had it fixed while I was in the hospital, but I'd completely forgotten about it.  

This was also when I started attempting things like going along to the grocery store.  It was a LOT at first.  Going out for lunch was like a magical dream!

The other day I went alone.  Today I forgot to grab one of the handles when I got in the shower.  It's the little stuff.

I noticed early on that I was expecting a lot from myself, trying to keep everything running smoothly (especially attempting to market a book that was about to be released).  Most people who work for other people would have 6 or 8 weeks off, and not push themselves so much.  So ... take from that what you will.  For me it was probably a good thing.