Sunday, July 31, 2022

My Green Friends Don't Let Me Down (Bearded Dragon photos)

 Posted by Molly Sams

Warning:  part of this post will be about a reptile and have pictures of a reptile. If you don’t like them or you’re scared of reptiles, please skip this post. I promise there will be ones better suited for you soon. Thanks!

About a year and a half or so ago, I made a pretty wonderful decision to adopt a reptile. I wasn’t sure what to get until my friend Cristhian saw a bearded dragon on the rescue site. At the time his name was “Axew.” They also thought he was a girl at first.

I met him, was scared but also loved him, and decided to go through with it. At our second meeting I took the little man home after giving a donation of a whooping $60.

From there we got used to each other. I renamed him Randi, after the magician The Amazing Randi, because he aspired to be a tiny escape artist. Luckily for me, he wasn’t very good. 

After some trial and error I learned his favorite foods, proper lighting, and that he is really into snuggles.

Now he’s my best friend.

So you can imagine how absolutely distraught I was to see he had a lump on his adorable little cheek. It was a day off and I canceled an appointment and meeting a friend to whisk the small man away to an ER vet. There they said he would be fine until next week and I scheduled an appointment with my usual vet the following Monday.  To make this short, Randi is ok but is taking a lot of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. The vet said to refrain from holistic remedies as his liver is too small and might not be able to handle it.  Because of this I’ve been smudging a bit while chamomile and holy basil teas are always on hand (for me).

While I was waiting for the vet to look at him they suggested I run some errands. I had seen a nursery on our way there and decided to stop by. 

I got there and just walking around put my mind at ease. Inside I looked at all of their water garden plants, listened to the fountains, and checked out their impressive bonsai tree collection.

Once I got outside I got to see some of my old friends. Yarrow, lavender, thyme, and echinacea were all there. Being around plants, new and old, helped me remember how to breathe. 


Every now and then I forget that plants have and always will be there for me.


 Be it by tea, by food, or by divinely showing up in front of me when I am at my most worried.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, thank your plants for being there. Give them a little more love today. Tell them how beautiful their blossoms are. Dust off your houseplants. Thank them as you harvest fruit. Because they have been there for us for as long as we can remember. And, luckily, they’ve stuck around.


Monday, July 25, 2022

Meeting Another Herbie in the Wild

posted by Molly Sams

Last weekend I went to Herman Gulch. It’s an out-and-back trail a little over seven miles in length. The trail is in Dillon Colorado (somewhere off of I-70) and it is absolutely stunning.

If you ever plan to hike it, be sure to hit the trail earlier rather than later. I prefer getting to the trail by six or seven a.m. at the latest. If you can, you may also want to go on a weekday to avoid the crowds. Bring your trekking polls and knee braces if your knees are anything like mine. You’re mostly going up-hill to the summit (which you think is the worst part). The downhill is what got me. Luckily there are plenty of places to take a quick water/stretching break. And I assure you, the trek is worth it. 

There were fields full of prairie-fire (Indian paintbrush), columbine, and giant hyssop. The trail was also lush with yarrow, spring beauty, and wild roses. There was even a small pica village at one point!

Much of the hike was next to a creek with waterfalls and it eventually led up to an absolutely stunning lake. Next to the creek there were plenty of quaking aspen and conifers. The entire hike was wonderful for all of the senses.

As we walked up I overheard a group looking at and identifying plants (Arnica is the major one that sticks in my mind). Unfortunately I was too out of breath to catch up to them. As we reached the summit I was able to say hello and chat.

I introduced myself to the woman that was identifying plants previously. She told me she was taught (I believe, but please don’t quote me) by Laurel Dewey. She told me how going on weed walks and learning plant identification had changed how she hiked and how she saw nature in general.

We parted ways when we made it to the lake so we could dip our toes in the water with those we had hiked with.

I wished I had gotten a picture, or a name, or anything, to reconnect with that lovely lady. But I am lucky. I am lucky to have had such a wonderful connection and discussion with someone that, at first, was a complete stranger. I love how herbs can lead you to these moments. Meeting other herbal enthusiasts, herbalists, herbies, or whatever they call themselves can create such a beautiful opportunity to learn. 

Sometimes you learn about new herbs, or recipes, or preparations. And sometimes you get to learn about the person and their life lessons. It’s often a beautiful connection. Something that is to always be cherished.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

The Evolution of a Medicinal Cordial (ala TEH)

 I recently made a tincture that has turned out to be 5 years in the making.  Then I realized upon tasting it that it was a cordial.  The reason for posting this tale is to be publicly imperfect, and to express the real joy that medicine making is for me when making thing for my personal use.  It's assumed that if you're reading this blog, you are also making things (or wanting to) for your own use too. 

Let me start by saying that I stick a lot of stuff in alcohol when I run out of ideas.  Since there's just not much time or energy for drinking alcohol around here, it sits.  If it's fruit, it gets VERY tasty. The longer it sits, the better. If it's roots or herbs, it will eventually be strained.  I've read varying opinions.  For my own stash, again, I do what feels right.

I started with some beautiful Heal-All.  What I grow is Prunella grandiflora.  The vulgaris just couldn't get established here, so I made a spot in the garden and bought some nice plants.

Prunella vulgaris, the common self-heal, heal-all, woundwort, heart-of-the-earth, carpenter's herb, brownwort or blue curls, is a herbaceous plant in the mint family Lamiaceae.  There are lots of reasons to create medicine with this wondrous plant, including these properties:

Drawing -
Draws out infection
Lymphatic stimulant
Wound healing
The styptic, wound healing, astringent properties (etc!) may make it very helpful for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.
... and lots of other things!  I will also be making a salve shortly.

When I came inside with a small basket full of Heal-all, there wasn't any available alcohol.  I located a bottle of "mixed berry blend" which means that I used alcohol for blueberries, gooseberries, and black raspberries.  It was dated 2017.  I poured it all into a new jar, covering the Heal-all.  Perfect.  A couple weeks later I tasted it.  It was sweet and delicious - but there was no reason for it to be sweet.  Found the bottle and on the back there was MORE labeling.  In 2020 I added some kumquat simple syrup!

So the end result is really remarkable.  It tastes wonderful and it would be easy to get most children to take it - not to mention me. 

Still need to add one more bit to this labeling to reflect the simple syrup. 

So that's how it can go around here.
Usually it's pretty straight-forward.  One herb, one menstuum, strained after about 6 weeks, bottled and labeled.  But every so often something magical happens, simply because I am unable to toss extra fruit that just begs to become something else.  Do yourself a favor and make some sour cherry cordial.  You're welcome!