How To Use Herbal Preparations Wisely

How To Use Herbal Preparations Wisely

Would you like to discover how to use herbs and herbal preparations wisely? As with anything, there are benefits and risks to using herbs. Yet there are simple guidelines that can help us to approach and use herbs safely! The more you know when using herbs the safer you will be! And while nothing is 100% safe, by using common sense, listening to our bodies, and following guidelines used by herbalists, we can learn to use herbal preparations wisely. Find resources below to help set you on the path to enjoying herbs with surety. 

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Vanilla Ice Cream With Fresh Chocolate Mint

Vanilla Ice Cream With Fresh Chocolate Mint

This afternoon found us quietly rambling in the yard harvesting a bit of our freshly growing chocolate mint.  It is so yummy and vivacious with dark green leaves and chocolate colored square stems.  I love having this plant growing in our yard.  We took our mint inside to create our first ice cream of the season.  I love making frozen desserts with my kids using healthy ingredients!

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Apple Blossoms

apple blossoms

     Tight little pink buds open daily into the sweetest white blossoms on our two apple trees.  These trees are very, very special trees.  We planted them 5 years ago on Mother's Day as a family.  One tree for each of my children, underneath which we buried the placentas from their births.  Giving the trees ultimate nourishment and offering an act of honor to the lives my husband and I brought into this world, a celebration of birth and family.

After we finally set down roots in our home, we broke ground for these two trees.  You see, after the birth of my first daughter we moved a total of four times in two years.  With each move we made, I toted the placenta from her birth from home to home.  Keeping it frozen in a container, I transferred it from freezer to freezer as one of my most valued possessions.  So after we had been in our current house for a couple of years, greeting a new baby during that time, I felt it was time to plant these trees.

And as my daughters grow, their trees grow, marking this passage of time and showing so beautifully how life becomes enriched and deepened with each passing moment.  This year the trees are beginning to mature, becoming big, all covered in beautiful blossoms with the promise of delicious fruit soon to come.

apple blossoms

What, if anything, did you do with your child's placenta?

Shared On:  The Sunday Parenting Party, Eco-Kids Tuesday

In The Middle

Soft windy air swirling feeling wonderful on my skin, not accustom to the sun.  The sky is full of billowing Spring clouds backed by bright blue.  As I walk with my dog Cinnamon around our neighborhood into balmy winds, I find myself pondering as I often do on walks.  I ponder how long we will live in our current house, thinking of the wonderful schools my children go to and will go to in the very near future.  I ponder where I lived as a child and my friends' homes, realizing that none of their parents live in my friend's childhood homes any longer. floweringtreepath

"Um, I wonder how long until we can move, if we choose to do so, until the kids are through school?"  I find myself thinking such thoughts for the first time...

And I realize that eleven years is the answer.  Eleven years until my youngest graduates from high school.  That is not really very long.  Eleven years ago I had a newborn baby, I was a new mom.  My life completely turned upside down as I started on this path of raising kids.  And it hits me, that I am in the middle.  In the middle of what I think of as hardcore parenting.  The kind of parenting when you have to literally be ready for anything at any moment.  Over the past couple of years I watched this mile stone coming.  I knew it would get here and probably arrive sooner than I wanted it too.  I still see my youngest as a very small child yet when I come home from teaching at the preschool, I can't help but see her growing into a big girl, a girl who is changing so fast, and quickly loosing all those last vestiges of toddlerhood.  My oldest is set on the edge of blooming into a teenager which is almost mind-boggling as well as completely beautiful.

I am in the middle.

The middle of motherhood.

The middle of life.



From here I can see my past particularly through the lens of my own motherhood, I see my childhood and I grow.  I learn those lessons I missed and change.  I appreciate more my own parents and my life.  Of course I can't see the future yet I feel myself letting go of the desire to fix everything and make it all as it should be.  Rather I want to let things be and experience.  I am in the middle and excited to experience the ride from here.

Shadows climb up the garden wall Upon the green the first leaf falls It's the prime of life and the king and queen Step out into the sun...

...It's the prime of life, where the spirit grows And the mirror shows both ways

~ Neil Young

Shared On: The Sunday Parenting Party


Today, I hoped to write a nice post about how my teacher friends at preschool stay healthy around so many little ones but... I am going to instead take the day to organize my thoughts (and my kitchen), finish up holiday shopping and take a nice long soaky bath.  Next week will be the perfect week to share all the great information I got from my teacher friends.  Until then, I want to share something my daughter said to me the other day.

Holding my hand with her small warm one, she gazed at me with her big sweet brown eyes and said, "Momma, thank you for keeping me alive."  Then she gave me a big hug full of love.

There you go, that is what is important for today, taking care and mostly love.


Gingerbread House Party

It's An Artistic Expression...

Ok, so I am not into candy, like at all.  Well, unless it is dark chocolate.  And while I don't stop my kids from having an occasional munch, I certainly don't promote it.  What I am into is kids doing lots of fun art, expressing themselves and getting lost in the enchantment of their own imagination.  Cooking with kids and getting them inspired about food is also big on my list.  So when I found out about the gingerbread house making birthday parties offered at a wonderful local cooking school, I had to jump on the chance for my little one's sixth birthday party.  She loves to cook and create so I knew this would be a great opportunity for her.

This is not only review of a very fun educational place in Boulder, Colorado, it is also a sharing of a very fun time with lots of great ideas for making your own wonderful gingerbread houses!  At the bottom of this post are links to more great ideas for making a healthy gingerbread house.   Stir It Up Cooking School offers fun, exciting cooking classes, parties and camps for kids in a homey loving atmosphere.  It is a school of great imagination and fun!  If you are in the Boulder area and looking for some cooking fun, I highly recommend you look up this great school!

yummy fun

We had her party late in the season last year and I have waited this whole time with oodles of great pictures to share and all the fun of the day as well.

Sue, who was the amazing woman who ran V's party, did a great job keeping the kids busy and engaged that whole time.  She started the party by having the kiddos make quesadillas and ice cream from scratch to have as a snack after all their hard work.  The kids each learned how to grate cheese and used cookie cutters to create a shape in the top of their quesadilla.  Then they quickly whipped up some wonderful ice cream and everyone watch enchanted as Sue filled up the ice cream maker.

Next they were on to making their houses.  Sue had baked up some simply lovely gingerbread house pieces which smelled heavenly.  The kids took off with painting their roofs.


After the kids finished painting their roofs of course they needed to make Christmas trees to put inside their houses.  What do you use for trees?  Ice cream cones!  Painted green, decorated and placed pointy side up, ice cream cones make the perfect tree.

cone painting

Next the houses came out which were all pre-assembled on little cake cardboard rounds.  Excellent instructions were given to the kids on how to use a pastry bag for decorating.  Finally came the candies with many wonderfully creative ideas of how to use them.  The frosting made the perfect glue for decorating.  I was so impressed by Sue's imagination, she had lots of fun ideas for using the candies.


Pretzel waffley things glued together became cozy chairs for gummy bears seated around the tree.  Outside the house two little ducks swim in a pond.


Notice the presents?


Lovely siding!


Lollipops lamp-post...

lollipop light post

V helps Sue put her roof on her house.


The class was so engaging that aside from frosting licked off fingers, no candy eating really happened except a stray piece here and there.  And once we were home the houses were just to pretty to eat.  So I guess the kids really did create a piece of art work after all.  And most important, they had an absolute blast!

Looking for some healthy gingerbread house alternatives to make at home?  

Me too!

Here is what I found so far:

Eat Chic Chicago  shows how to make a beautifully decorated house with nuts and dried fruit.

Simply Home Making   Another fun house with lots of ideas.  Also great pictures with instructions on how to bake the pieces for a house.  My favorite part is the popcorn roof with a whiff of popcorn smoke coming from the chimney.

Medomak Family Camp has ideas for a sweet little house and plus more great instructional pics.

Cooking Matters offers lots of fun ideas to use with a graham cracker base.

Shared On: It's Playtime!, The Kid's Co-Op, The Imagination Tree, Sunday Parenting Party

A Kindly Gift

At the coffee shop one recent Fall morning I struck up a conversation with the spunky sweet woman behind the counter.  We got to talking about the coconut caramel for sale near the register.  I asked her if she thought I could use them to make caramel apples for my kids who are desperate for a gooey creamy apple.  Our conversation drifted to how amazing apples are which is when I noticed the apples earrings she had doing a dangly dance from her ear lobes.  Before I knew it this wonderful woman handed me a brown paper bag full of delicious red-green apples from her neighbor's tree.  A kindly gift indeed....

And then....

The very next day, I was blessed to receive another gift.  And this was huge for me, in fact the drama queen in me would say it changed my life, or at least my October.  My daughter wanted to be "Trixie the Halloween Fairy" from the Rainbow Magic Books.  I knew a little girl who had worn that very costume a few years before.  I asked her mother if she still had it and could I buy it from her?  Not only did she still have it but just she gave it to me.  A full costume, complete with resplendent fairy wings.  Now, I don't sew unless it is a simple repair job like re-attaching a button.  And before I was gifted with this costume, I was looking at hours of potentially trying sewing or trying to figure out how to make the costume without sewing.  It was a huge relief to know that I had nothing to do, the costume was done and I was free to focus on having fun with my kids.  Another kindly gift...

How could I thank these lovely ladies and let them know how much their gestures meant to me?  I pondered a bit before I remembered a favorite "thank you" that I love to give, an aromatherapy spritzer!

Most people love spritzers and delight in receiving them.  Spritzers are so easy to make user friendly  and bring a bit of plant magic into life.  When I make a spritzer for someone who's preferences I don't know, I almost always use lavender essential oil.  Most people love lavender and it is one of the safest essential oils.  In fact only lavender and tea tree essential oils are okay to put straight on the skin with out dilution (this is called a neat application ~ neat right?).

Here are basic instructions for making your own spritzer

Supplies ~
  • Bottle
  • Atomizer (Spray Top)
  • Water
  • Essential Oils
Instructions ~

Fill the bottle almost to the top with water but leave enough room for the sprayer tube to insert into the bottle.  You may have to trim the tube a little bit to make it the right length.  Then just add you essential oils.  You will want to put a safe amount of oils into the bottle.  Here is a good guideline for recommended dilutions:

  • 1% dilution: 5 to 6 drops of essential oil per ounce of water (this is the safest dilution for the very young and elderly)
  • 2% dilution: 10 to 12 drops of essential oil per ounce of water

So basically if you have a 4 ounce bottle for your spritzer you would use 20 to 24 drops of essential oil to make a 1% dilution or 40 to 48 drops for a 2% dilution.  Information on proper dilutions taken from the oh so excellent Mindy Green & Kathy Keville's Aromatherapy, A Complete Guide to the Healing Art.

Then just give it a good shake.  Add a ribbon and a label to make it pretty.  That is it!  So simple.  What a great way to give thanks and tell someone you appreciate having them in your life.

How do you say thank you to the people who have touched your life?

The Power Of Clary Sage Essential Oil

Late one cold December I gave birth to my second daughter.  Blessed to be at home with my loving husband and three amazing midwives attending my labor and delivery, the whole experience was incredibly empowering and uplifting. Towards the end of my labor I climbed into a warm bath fragrant with Clary Sage essential oil wisely placed in the bath by one of my sweet midwives.  Normally the smell of Clary Sage (latin name Salvia sclarea) is a bit much for me but at this time it smelled divine.  It came right into my birth space with ease and with in a few minutes I was climbing back out of the tub to birth my daughter.  I felt as though the Clary Sage opened a doorway.  As though it helped me come closer to my authentic self and the Spirit which was bringing this baby into the world through my body.

In the past I've used a simple inhalation of Clary Sage essential oil for effectively easing menstrual cramps.  And it always took me to a higher place during my moon.  A place where I could flow through the cramping and the door that opens during menstruation.  As women it is our gift to be able to access this place and bring back feminine knowledge.  I had forgotten about using Clary Sage in this way, I was happy for the reminder.

Clary Sage Essential Oil

  • Supports inner vision
  • Eases PMS associated with depression and emotional turmoil
  • Relieves muscular spasm associated with menstrual cramping and digestive upset.
  • Brings on menstrual flow

The name Clary is derived from the Latin word sclarea coming from the root word clarus, meaning clear.   Clarity refers to its traditional use on a physical level as a soothing eyewash.  While on an internal level it augments perception of oneself and clarity of thought, hence serving useful in meditation and for enhancing True sight.  Beneficial to the nerves, Clary Sage sedates while soothing away anxieties, depression, stress, and insomnia making it very helpful for those experiencing PMS, specifically when associated with depression.  Its action and smell can be intoxicating, bringing on states of euphoria and acting as an aphrodisiac.  Clary Sage eases pain from muscular spasms such as menstrual cramping, headaches, and stomach pains.  It also aids in relieving indigestion.  And Clary Sage stimulates the uterus, bringing on menstruation.  It helps to balance emotions while alleviating physical and mental exhaustion.

For information on lots of ways to use essential oils safely please visit my Essential Oil page in the Materia Medica.

To purchase clary sage essential oil click HERE.*

.Other essential oils that combine well with Clary Sage include: Lavender, Sandalwood   Cardamom, Rose Geranium, Cedarwood, Pine, Jasmine, Frankincense, Bergamot, as well as other citrus oils.  All of these have their own personalities, properties and use guidelines.

Important…  Essential oils are very strong and concentrated.  Some are stronger than others.  They must be used wisely. (See: Essential Oils)  It is important to dilute essential oils in either water or a carrier oil (vegetable oil such as almond or olive) before applying to the skin.  Clary Sage essential oil should not be used when one has been drinking or during pregnancy because it stimulates the uterus.

More Moon Time ~

Image Credit: The beautiful picture of clary sage is by lovely herbalist Lauren Stauber. 

* Please Note: This post contains affiliate links to Mountain Rose Herbs. Please visit my affiliate page for full disclosure.  

Shared On: The Sunday Parenting Party 

A Mother's Voice

When you talk with your mother what do you hear?  Under all the words, whatever they are, is a sound with resonance   I heard it the other day, again for the first time.  I had just called my mom and got her voice mail.  As I stood there in my kitchen listening to her speak I was struck by her voice.  I listened and realized her voice was the first voice I ever heard.  From deep in her womb, her voice connected and resonated with me.  Her voice is the voice I have known my whole existence.

What a deep amazing connection we have with our mothers.  A connection that goes back in so many ways to even before our birth.  A mother's voice cuts to the core.

Many women talk and sing to their babies during pregnancy.  We stroke and rub our bellies.  We love our babies before we ever see their face or hold their sweet little hands.   And our voices, our love, provide a bridge into the waking world.  A world we all come into innocent and impressionable.  When we arrive we are hopefully greeted with warm love and a first vision of that wonderful person who has nourished us all along, and we hear her voice.

Tree Gazing

Trees speak to me.  A soothing rustle of leaves creates calming dappled sunshine.  Simply laying beneath a tree listening and feeling always centers and soothes me.

Listening to the peaceful sound of leaves whispering in the wind.

Feeling profound strong comfort of the Earth.

All is well here.  All is how it should be.

What a gift to simply take a moment and breathe while watching patterns of the sky and sun shifting between the leaves.  Feeling the steady love of Mother Earth cradling and nourishing every cell while letting go into the ground.

My family is truly blessed to live in Colorado where we have easy access to rich beautiful forests.  On a recent hike we found a lovely aspen grove.  Into it we climbed to find a forest floor strewn with soft plants and leaves.  Here we nestled down together for a bit of tree gazing and centering.  The wind blowing high above in the tree tops provided a lovely show as we watched the trees dancing and swaying.  We let go of the craziness of the school year.  We let go of schedules and stress.  We let go of concerns.

Pretty soon we found ourselves taking about the beauty of nature and how we can help to preserve it.  My six-year-old decided that we should have a "nature day" at least once a week.

"What would you do?" I asked.

"Give nature love and water!" came a vigorous happy reply.


At the edge of the aspen grove was a very amazing tree growing in an interesting shape.  What does it look like to you?

We thought maybe a headless warrior...

As summer moves along and eventually transforms into autumn, I hope we have many more family moments, many more simple pleasantly easy afternoons tree gazing.

Fun Fact ~ Aspens are one of the (if not the) largest organism living on Earth.  They grow connected under the Earth.  So when you see a grove of many aspens, you may only be seeing one living organism!