Monday, September 21, 2015

Cold and Flu Season for the Kiddos and You!

It is almost that time of year mamas and papas! Usually once the kids go back to school it isn't long until they start sharing things. Nasty things.....GERMS!! Don't panic though. There are some natural things you can do to boost up their little bodies so they are better protected and to take care of them at home if they do get a bug. 

1. Stay away from too much sugar. 
I know I sound like an evil person especially with Halloween right around the corner, but how many of us have had kids get sick right after a big holiday like Halloween or Christmas when they have had extra yummies. It really slows down the immune system. Not just candy and junk food but juice is another thing to limit or eliminate.

2. Try to introduce some good bacteria.
The gut health of our country isn't very good as a whole. It can be blamed on any number of things from the chemicals in our water, our over use of anti-bacterial EVERYTHING, our over use of antibiotics not only in our own bodies but in the animals products we consume, and all the toxins that float around in our environments. Our gut health is linked to all the systems in our body. If your digestion is out of wack more than likely so is your health and your kids. There are things we can do to help though! Yogurt, kefir, kombucha, miso, real sauerkraut...... All these things help to boost them up over time. Some can be a hard sell for little ones, especially those that are used to chicken nuggets and mac and cheese. Try to make it fun and play around with it! We just had miso soup with our lunch today and my middle child did not appreciate the goodness of the miso! However we played around with it and she found it made an excellent gravy for her mashed potatoes! 

3. Boost there vitamin C with Rose Hips and Hibiscus.
Did you think I was going to say orange juice? Orange juice is delicious but save it for a special occasion. OJ is a strong refrigerant and that is not some good when you are in the middle of winter. Not to mention all the sugar! If you make a tea with Rose Hips and/or Hibiscus you are giving them a super boost of vitamin C, even more than what is found in citrus! And you control the sweetness!! It's a win win!

4. Elderberry Syrup has sweetness that packs a punch against the flu.

Elderberry Syrup
Elder Flowers

Elder is a plant with a two part punch actually. The berries can be a delicious medicine to boost the immune system and the flowers are a fever aid if you do catch something, helping the fever to do it's job better by making you sweat. Elder berries have been shown in some studies (here's another) to prevent flu or at least limit the days you feel like poo. Both the flowers and the berries taste great so they are an easy sell to the kiddos! Here is a recipe for Elderberry syrup:

1/2 cup dried Elderberries
3 cups water
simmer for about 30 to 45 minutes until it has reduced by 1/2
then add 1 cup of honey

Easy right? You can add other goodies too it like Rose Hips, Cinnamon, or Hawthorn berries. ***Just a note that if you do add Rose Hips it will thicken up more.

5. Catnip is one of my favorite herbs for children in pain or with a fever.
Catnip isn't just for cats around my house. It is a nervine and a gentle sedative with more of those fever helpers, diaphoretics, like in Elder flowers. It is really useful for sickness in children because it helps them rest when they have a fever and need to be in bed. How many of us parents have had a child with a fever who just refuses to lie down and take it easy. My kids think it is time to prove they are tough by jumping on the couch and doing laps in the living room! This is also a very safe plant that can be used in babies to soothe teething pain.

6. Slippery Elm and Marshmallow for sore throats.
When your little one has a sore throat (especially strep) there isn't much you can do to make them feel better it seems. Both of these amazing herbs have mucilaginous properties that soothe irritation and inflammation. Not to mention they are nutritive to give them a little nutrition with the liquid since they aren't often up for eating much. Slippery Elm is a little more like the slim on okra in consistency (yuck) but I have found adding some cinnamon and honey it tastes like a yummy graham cracker!

7. Don't forget to keep Garlic and Ginger around.

Old picture of a batch of fire cider, ginger honey, and garlic honey
These two are so useful to have around! Garlic can be thrown in anything for a little goodness but one of my favorite ways to use it is in honey. It is a little weird with the sweet and savory mixture but one spoonful is very powerful. I learned this from Susun Weed here. I will advise that you "burp" the jar daily or it may blow it's top though! Garlic oil can be used to treat ear infections too! 
Fresh Ginger can also be added to honey too but it is so juicy it needs to be kept in the fridge or you will end up with mead. It is a great go to for upset stomachs, diarrhea, and any case of the ickies. You can add it to chamomile tea as a tummy soother or put it in one of those tiny medicine cups, because teaching kids medicine doesn't always have to taste bad is a good thing!
Don't forget you can combine then in fire cider if your kids like spicy things or just make it for yourself. Here is my spin on it!

There are so many things that can be done to help our little ones at home and prevent them having to go to the doctors to pick up another germ. However there are times when that is necessary. I always try to give our nurse a call to check in and see what they think. I like to think they appreciate me not running in for every little thing. I hope our doctor here in the BIG CITY will do the same. 

What are some things you do to keep yourself or your kids or kids you care about safe during cold and flu season? Do you have any home remedies for if the case of the ickies hits?

Tree Love from Georgia <3 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Herbalist in the Big City

Recently, we had a very sudden move out of state and to a very big city. It was a very complicated situation but very necessary for our family. We had to say goodbye to all our friends and family so quickly. I also had to leave behind my wonderful gardens. I hope that who ever moves in will love them just as much as we did. I was able to take quite a few of them with me. A couple didn't make the transition and so I left because I felt like they would be happier there. It was such a whirlwind! I didn't have time to think until we got here and got unpacked a little. Then everything started to sink in.

The beautiful Lemon Bergamot I had to leave behind.

All of the plants that made the transition. I was doing a little blessing for them.
It has taken me some time to adjust to all the traffic, sirens, pollution warnings, and the cockroaches left by the previous tenants, but I am getting there slowly. More and more I am refocusing on the positives to living here and adapting to life in the big city.

Traffic on a light day and our itty bitty front yard.

Our oasis of happiness!
We have an itty bitty front yard with tons of traffic. However, we have been blessed with an lovely green oasis from the city in the back yard. We still hear the cars, but we have a few hawks in the area, a lovely family of bunnies, some adorable chipmunks, and tons of birds! Not to mention the weeds that are loving the space, like the abundance of Kudzu, Plantain, and Violets all mixed together with some Poke weed, wild berries. There are also tons of national and state parks so close to us all in the foot hills of the mountains. I am finding my footing.



Our plan is to head out of the city and toward those parks and the mountains come next year when our lease is up. I will use this year to reflect on my own health while focusing on my school, East West School of Planetary Herbology, and the education of my children. This year will be a growing lesson for me one definitely taught by the Coyote. How to find my peace, my health in a chaotic and crazy place!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Summer Solstice

Gladiolas from the kids' garden

Today was a beautiful solstice day! I love to roll with the seasons so I like to honor each of them in some way. So today we all started in the gardens! It has been unusually hot here for the month of June but some nice thunderstorms in the evenings lately have been helping to keep the plants happy!

My youngest talking to the bees this morning on the Bee Balm
 We had so much fun relaxing together! My husband and I drinking coffee, while laughing at one of our dogs, watching the birds, and doing a little pruning and harvesting.

Harvest from the herb garden 
 The best part of the day was a short hike at Medoc Mountain. One of our favorite places to hike around here. It is always gorgeous out there!

A brilliant blue dragonfly who wanted his picture taken! 
 My oldest, that was recently diagnosed with Crohn's disease, loves to hike but since her flare up she has been very fearful to attempt it. She didn't want to come, but I told her I won't let this disease make her stop living her life so she had to go but we would go at her pace. She made it and was so proud of herself when she finished! I was proud of her too! 

My oldest after the hike! All Smiles!!!
 My intention with this blog post was to talk about St. John's wort since this was the traditional day to harvest it, however there was none to be seen on our walk today so I will save it for another day. I hope that you got to get outside and do something amazing for the first day of Summer! I hope your entire season is filled with bright, cheery goodness!! 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Lamb's Quarters and My Love Affair With the Weeds

Lamb's Quarters (Chenopodium album)

Lamb's Quarters was one of the first wild weeds I ever tried. I was attending Appalachia School of Holistic Herbalism in the lovely mountains of NC. We had all met for class at the home of our school's director that she lovingly named Soulflower Botanical Sanctuary. As we were harvesting herbs in her garden she pointed out that we should gather a good basket of the young tops of the Lamb's Quarters. She had the regular kind and the most beautiful magenta colored ones too! It is super fairy fun to take the magenta or light green powder from the young leaves and rub it on your cheeks. Instant natural glitter!! They tasted like Spinach and Sweet Peas all rolled together. Needless to say, it was the trigger for a love affair with weeds I never knew I could have. 

The light color on the top leaves is the powdery "fairy dust"

Lamb's Quarters is also called Pigweed and is in the Goosefoot family. That is a whole lot of animals!! It can be found everywhere. Most gardeners pull it up and throw it in the compost pile, but there is so much nutrition there going to waste! It goes way beyond our tasty Spinach in nutrition having more calcium, iron, phosphorus, protein, and vitamins A and C. Not only are the young leaves edible but if you let it go to seed you will have a huge amount of Lamb's Quarters the next year and you can use the seeds kind of like millet.  Some Native tribes collect the seeds and grind them to make flour for bread. 

Young tops

They are mostly used for food but the Native Americans used it for stomach issues and to prevent scuvy. It was also popular with them and the Appalachian mountain people for use as a laxative.

I have cooked them in soups and stews, mixed them in with other greens, but my favorite way of cooking them is to saute them in a little butter (you can use olive or coconut oil) and scramble them into eggs. Powerful breakfast! 

It is important for us to get to know our lovely weedy plant brothers and sisters. It makes them valuable. It makes us more connected. It makes us second guess our use of toxic weed killer. It makes us see our vast sea of grass as food. Most of them have more nutrition than their store bought relatives and are found almost anywhere. My teacher, Ceara, said one of her teachers taught her that we should eat something wild everyday. I believe that with all my heart. I eat weeds.


A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve

The Cherokee Herbal by J. T. Garrett

Edible Wild Plants by Lee Allen Peterson

Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs by Steven Foster and James A. Duke

Lesson 10 from Rosemary Gladstar's Science and Art of Herbology course

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Non Stop Spring

So much has been happening lately that I haven't found time to post. So I will give you a run down of all the excitement and hopefully be able to get back to a nice schedule from here on out!

Florida Herbal Conference 2015 
My Favorite Class Room
The center of it all!
At the end of February I was lucky to attend the Florida Herbal Conference thanks to some dear friends. I helped them run their booth, Earthen Moon, and they helped me get my ticket. It was a blast and a well needed break from the daily mom stuff. There were so many amazing classes it was hard to pick exactly which ones I wanted to attend. My favorites were To Hold Quiet with Kate Taluga, Iris Evaluation with Joanna Helms, Breaking Addictions with Leslie Williams, Inter-species Telepathic Communication with Ellen Kamhi, Planting Sacred Relationships with Willow LaMonte, and Scientific Validation of Botanical Medicine with Ellen Kamhi. Ok well that was all the classes I took and I truly loved them all! I was able to listen to Steven Fosters keynote speech along with hearing other herbalists share their stories, it was all inspiring and I was filled with a sense of belonging. If you are interested in herbs I would highly recommend going to an herb conference. There are lots of them scattered throughout the US. This was my fourth one and I always leave bursting with new ideas, tons of information, and filled with love from my Herbal Tribe!!

Crohn's Disease
In the hospital for tests.
At the of April my oldest daughter was placed in the hospital to surgically drain 2 abscesses and to undergo testing for Crohn's disease. They found that it is Crohn's and she is in the midst of a flare. It has been a constant struggle to find her new normal. She isn't out of this flare and between diet restrictions and tons of medications she isn't too happy, but she is staying positive by trying to find humor in all of this. I had never worked with Crohn's before so I did not feel competent to treat any of this with herbs until her flare is over. I am doing a ton of research so maybe we can use herbs, stress therapy, and diet to help prevent any future flares, but for now we are listening to the doctors and looking into their recommendations. There is so much to this disease that is completely backwards from everything I learned was healthy. We will be sharing anything that we find that works for her up here to see if it helps you or someone you know is dealing with Crohn's. Everyone with this disease is different so what works for one may not work for another. It is all trial and error. As a mother it has been extremely emotional and tough to let out since I need to be strong for my daughter. I don't want her to see how scared or worried I am. One minute I am mad that this is happening to her, the next I am sad, and mostly completely overwhelmed. I want to have this instead of her. I think as a mom it is harder watching her go through this than if I just had it myself. As a healer, who my children come to for fixing, it is even worse because I can't fix this. It is just really hard. We are lucky to be surrounded by good family and friends who are being so helpful and supportive through all of this. I am so grateful for that.

Back at the ER for some more tests.

Ditch Kittens
The two girls playing in their home
The two boys are the orange ones <3
Our local stray cat had some kittens in our ditch! I thought she belonged to someone but was an outdoor cat but after she decided the ditch tube was a good place to have babies and watching her hunt like the finest lion I know now she is homeless. She had 4 babies 2 males and 2 females. We have found homes for everyone so far except for the darkest orange little boy and the mama herself. The little boy is my favorite and we might have ended up with him if I could handle one more thing right now. Also if I could keep my dogs from hurting him and keep him from knocking down all my knickknacks or eating my feathers and bits I collect. So it is best we find my little friend a good home! I will say I am thankful for those little balls of fur who have provided a welcomed distraction from the Crohn's, food restrictions, and doctor's appointments. If we can't find a home for the mama we may check into the spay program for wild kitties because she definitely puts a dent in the mouse population out here in the country! And the squirrels and birds too!
The calico with my youngest

The Gardens

 Of course the gardens!! I have been planting, weeding, pruning, and plucking whenever I get a free moment! We have 3 gardens this year. A kid garden, an herb garden, and a veggie garden. 

Kids' Garden
The kid garden has bulbs and seeds planted by the kids along with a few plants we have collected along the way. It is really starting to fill out and the kids love it!

Herb Garden

Milk Thistle

The herb garden is my happy place. I sit out there when I have a moment to reflect, relax, and just breathe. It has been my distraction through all of this. 

Veggie garden
Our first squash
The veggie garden is self explanatory but we have already had a small yellow squash harvest and there are quite a few things that will be ready soon! I just need to get out there and weed it. Mainly pull up the grass that has grown back in places.

Beautiful Rainbow 
So that is just about everything that has happened the past few months. I am hoping to post about specific plants growing in the herb garden this summer along with medicine making with some of them. As well as some plant walks in the woods for plant ID and more medicine making fun!! Thanks for sticking around in my absence, I promise to not be gone so long next time! Until then I leave you with my newest favorite song....

Rising Appalachia - Medicine

Wishing you LOVE

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Finding Happiness in Snow

We have been getting some pretty gnarly winter weather here in NC lately. Last week it was an icy mess. You couldn't even walk across your grassy areas because you might slip and fall. My kids however thought this was the best because they could "ice skate" on grass! It was bitter cold and our heaters never stopped to rest which had me a little nervous with our wallet getting a little too light shelling out money for fuel. Today it isn't as cold but it is snowing. Everyone around here isn't used to this weather and EVERYTHING shuts down. So most people are not happy with this newest development Mother Nature is throwing our way. It is hard because some people, like my husband, dad, and brothers, have to get to work even on the snow covered roads and the county is just not equipped to deal with snow or ice very quickly. This morning when I woke, even though I love snow, I found I was also less than excited to see the white stuff. So as I made a mad dash to the store for supplies for dinner I was looking for things about this snowy weather that made me happy. Here is my list....

Ice along a rock face in Pisgah National Forest in NC in 2013.

1. IT IS NOT ICE! I am super grateful that it is powdery, white stuff and not glassy, slick stuff. It is no where near as dangerous and is a lot more fun to play in!

My oldest checking out the shapes of snow flakes.

2. The kids WANT to go OUTSIDE!! I don't care if you are 5 or 45, if you are a kid you will want to go outside for a little while anyway. They might not mind putting down the video games and turning of the tv.

My youngest loving the snow.

3. No one can look bad in the snow. Everyone seems to glow and the snow highlights hair beautifully. And unlike rain you can brush most of it off before you go inside so you won't look soggy.

Isn't he handsome!!

4. Cardinals in the snow is one of the most beautiful things in the world. All birds in the snow are fun to watch but the cardinals really stand out and they seem to know it! Must be why one of their songs is "pretty pretty pretty pretty".

A frozen stream at the Genesee County Park in East Bethany, NY.

5. There is a stillness. A quiet that we just don't get much in our busy lives and around here it makes us slow down. And sometimes slowing down in the middle of cold and flu season is exactly what we need to fight off these bad bugs. When we lived in upstate NY, even though they are well equipped for daily snow plowing and everyone could get around just fine most of the time, there was that same stillness. One of my favorite memories up there was hiking in a snowy wood. It was so beautiful and peaceful. Perfect for reflection, prayer, and self-work. 

Golden finches, house finches, juncos, and maybe a sparrow in there too.

So even though it is a bummer that my hubby has to drive home tonight in this mess and that I just mopped all my floors only to be dirtied up with muddy feet and paws. There are good things if we are willing to see them! Like these daffodil buds pushing through the snow to let us know Spring is coming and Mother Earth is alive and preparing for life. Maybe she just needed a blanket. <3

Double daffodils in the snow.

“Snow flurries began to fall and they swirled around people's 

legs like house cats. It was magical, this snow globe world.”