Thursday, January 23, 2014

Old Practices for a New Year

Returning to well-worn paths this season.
2014 is my year to EMBRACE life-
my life, not someone else's.
As I've pondered and prayed about what that means for me,
seeking what shimmers these days, herbalism has surfaced time and time again.
In small ways such as treating a cold with elderberry syrup, peppermint tea with ginger-infused honey and lemon; and an aromatherapy steam of eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary, and lavender essential oils.
A brief warm spell drew me out to the garden where I cut back winter damaged herbs and found myself planning next season's plantings, which feature more and more herbs.
An email from a fellow herb lover, dropping a hint that I have some herbal writing to do.

All of these small clues led me back full circle to where my heart has been for many years- herbs and herbcraft for the home.

So, as snow flies outside my window (a rare occurrence here in my part of Texas), I'm gathering notes scratched into journals to review for future writings, stacking the seed catalogs by my bedside for winter wishlist making, and simmering beef and barley soup laden with bay, garlic, parsley and thyme on the stove.
Small steps on a well-trod path.
Tomorrow I'll brew another batch of elderberry syrup, more tea, and see what else my hands find to do.
Heart-shaped dream pillows for Valentine's day gifts are one possibility.
Perhaps I'll mix up some LOVE tea as well.

What herbs are you using these days?
Making anything lovely with herbs? 
What topics would you like to see covered here at Still Room Herbs?

Herbal Blessings,

Monday, December 9, 2013

Essential Holiday Scents

Essential oils are one of my favorite ways to use herbs in my home.
In the photo above, the small wooden cabinet on the right holds a selection of essential oils.
My husband bought that for me many years ago especially to hold my ever growing collection.
I use essential oils in the bath, in cleaning, for first-aid, and to add natural fragrance to the house.
They are also used in creating gifts such as bath salts, lotion bars, solid perfumes, potpourri, and dream pillows.
There are many, many uses for essential oils, they are a daily staple here.

I buy my oils from Mountain Rose Herbs or Aura Cacia almost exclusively.
My local Natural Grocers carries Aura Cacia brand, so I shop there when I need something quickly, but when I have time to wait for the UPS man, I order from Mountain Rose Herbs.
Both brands are of excellent quality, so you won't be disappointed with either.

For simplicity's sake, I often add a few drops of one or two essential oils to either a small pan of water simmering lightly on the stove top, or to the humidifier which runs almost daily in winter to combat the dry air caused by our central heat unit.
During the holidays I like peppermint, orange, cinnamon, rosemary ... spicy 'holiday' fragrances.
On my list now are some  'Christmas tree' scented oils-

These Holiday Diffuser Blends from Mountain Rose herbs all sound nice.

Do you use essential oils in your home?
If so, what is your favorite way to put them to use?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Gifts from the Still Room

I love Christmas!
It is my favorite time of the year.
I love the decorating, the baking,
choosing gifts from the World Vision Catalog
for those less fortunate than my family-
those who without the gifts of chickens, rabbits,
or goats might go hungry.

And I enjoy creating homey, simple herbal gifts for those I love.
Gifts such as-
Herb Infused Honey
Bath Salts
Herb Infused Oils
Simmering Scents
and this
Vanilla Sugar Scrub

1 cup vanilla sugar made with white or brown sugar (see directions below)
1/2 cup sweet almond oil (or whatever oil you like)
a few drops of vanilla essential oil (optional)

Mix together and use as a body scrub to exfoliate and make your skin soft, smooth, and sweet smelling.

Vanilla Sugar
 Take a whole vanilla bean and place it in quart jar and then fill the jar with sugar. (I prefer organic cane sugar, but use whatever you have on hand.)
Let the sugar and vanilla bean sit for a few days and soon you will have a delicious vanilla sugar to put in your cup of tea, your favorite cake or cookies, or a deliciously scented sugar scrub.

I'll share more gifts from the Still Room in the coming days.

What gifts are you making this Christmas?

Friday, November 29, 2013

Simmering Scents

'Tis the season for simmering fragrant herbs and spices on the stovetop.
In the photo above is a mixture of:
dried oranges
bay leaves
cinnamon sticks
star anise

I add powdered cinnamon and ginger and a few drops of sweet orange essential oil to the mix.

It is pretty in bowls or jars, and smells lovely when simmering in water in my favorite little enamel pan.

A simpler way to add fragrance to the home is to simmer fresh orange peels and cinnamon in water.

Do you have a favorite simmering potpourri that you make?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cough and Cold Relief Still Room Style

Cough & Cold season hit here in full force last week.
Family and friends are sneezing, coughing, and suffering with sore throats and such.

I'm brewing many cups of green tea laden with honey, ginger, and lemon; and making soothing infusions of marshmallow root, slippery elm bark, linden, and oat straw for the cold suffers in my household.
I made my first batch of Elderberry Honey of the season yesterday and I am taking that along with Echinacea tincture to keep my own immune system strong and hopefully avoid becoming ill myself.
On the windowsill I have a small jar of ginger infused honey that will be ready soon for soothing sore throats and flavoring herb teas.

Meanwhile, the soup pot simmers with nourishing vegetable barley stew, heavily spiced with onions, garlic, and ginger; and the humidifier freshens the air with steam infused with eucalyptus, rosemary, and peppermint essential oils.

(Sorry about the poor quality photos- while my iphone makes posting photos quick and simple, I've not yet mastered the art of iphone photography.)

What's brewing in your home this season?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Saturday Stroll

 From my garden this rainy Saturday morning:

 Dark Opal Basil which pairs perfectly with ...

Marion tomatoes ripening on the vine

 Feverfew about to blossom

Chive flowers which will find their way into a bottle of vinegar soon

What's growing in your garden today?


Friday, April 26, 2013

Weekend Wanderings

It's raining- a good thing for the garden, but it did mess up my plans to weed the herb beds and such today.
When the weather clears, I plan to do some wandering in the wild area behind my house and do a little wildcrafting- nettle, dandelion, plantain, and chickweed are all at their spring best about now.

In the meantime, I'm moodling about in the kitchen, playing with ferments.
I have cream fraiche and kombucha started, and plan to make a jar of ginger carrots today.
Sullivan St. Bread is also bubbling away on the counter.  I'll bake it later this afternoon ... will be perfect for tea time!

I missed the Rosemary Gladstar Teleseminar last night, but thankfully the replay will be up over the weekend.  I've been listening as I putter about the house, stopping frequently to make notes. There are wonderful tips, recipes, and more in this program.  I downloaded the mp4 so I can listen as I have a few free moments.  Listen online or download it while you have a chance, you won't want to miss it.

Snippings from my herb garden this morning:
Pineapple Sage

Purple and Sweet Basil

Where are you wandering this weekend?

Herbal Blessings,

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Way of the Herbal Ninja - Free Webinar

Another Free Herbal Webinar for you:

Way of the Herbal Ninja: Using 17 Herbs You Already Have in the Kitchen

Love the simplicity of using herbs already in the kitchen.

This webinar also has some very nice freebie e-books available if you post about the webinar on a blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Nice way to get some titles for your herbal pantry.

Listening to this webinar is the perfect activity for this rainy April afternoon!

Herbal Blessings,

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Wild Greens a Free Teleseminar

I plan to attend this free teleseminar on Thursday, April 25th, and thought some of you might be interested too-

Wild Greens & Spring Remedies- a Free Teleseminar with Rosemary Gladstar

I've been using Rosemary Gladstar's book  Herbal Healing for Women for many years, and also frequently turn to another of her titles- 
Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family.  Both are easy to read and understand, but have a wealth of herbal knowledge to share.

I am looking forward to the teleseminar, which is just in time for the spring greens that are popping up in my area!


Saturday, April 13, 2013

For the Still Room Book

 tiny thyme blossoms

Below are a few links to some herbal recipes I thought might interest you.  I will be adding these and others to my Still Room Book.

Gardener's Salve ~ Frugally Sustainable

Springtime Formulas ~ Mountain Rose Herbs

Floral Spring Cleansing Tonic ~ Frugally Sustainable

What is your favorite herbal Spring tonic?

One of mine is simply wandering the herb garden in bare feet and  touching and sniffing the herbs!   Having a cup of tulsi or lemony herb tea in hand makes it all the nicer.

rosemary and marjoram

Herbal Blessings Friends,


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Sweet Pea

Sweet peas with old apothecary bottles found near our home 

In the Language of Flowers, sweet pea is said to convey delicate pleasures or departure.
Sweet peas are lovely, delicate, pleasantly scented ... and in my area, they make a quick departure when the heat of late spring/summer appears.
Though fleeting, they bring  pleasure whether blooming in the garden or in a jar of water on the windowsill.  And I will plant them every year.

What herb or flower do you plant even though it doesn't always thrive in your climate?

Weekend Blessings,

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Spring Thyme

Freshly planted 'spring thyme':

 Orange Thyme (smells fabulous)

Creeping thyme (blooming tiny lavender blossoms)

I have a fondness for thyme and have scattered other varieties throughout the herb and veggie garden- Mother of Thyme, French Cooking Thyme, Lemon Thyme, and a tiny one ... (elfin thyme perhaps?) which is going in the girls' fairy garden.

Lemon Thyme is one of my favorites, but then I do love all things lemon so it is no surprise.
I was very pleasantly surprised to find this recipe for Lemon Thyme Cupcakes online.  I made them years ago from a recipe in the Herb Companion magazine and they were delicious.  My husband has requested them from time to time but I couldn't locate the magazine or the recipe (which is surely somewhere in the Recipe Pile).  Now that I have the recipe, I can hardly wait for my lemon thyme to grow enough for me to make a batch of these cupcakes.  They are perfect with a cup of tea.  

What is your favorite variety of thyme?

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