Joy Livery

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Curried Pumpkin Soup


I’m sheepishly sharing this a tad early.  Technically summer does not leave until September is ending, and in Florida it can last into October.  This soup came together nonetheless.  : )  It had been a great Saturday- taught Led Primary Series at Ananda Kula in the morning and then headed over to the Cummer Museum and spent some time goofing off with friends and my our kids.  And I must say, it was incredibly hot today (another strange non-reason to make an autumnal soup).  Coming home, I soon realized I didn’t have much in the kitchen for dinner, so I went poking around in the pantry and came across a can of pumpkin.  Besides a mean tofu pumpkin pie, I honestly can’t think of anything else to make with a can of pumpkin other than soup.  So while it isn’t pumpkin, spice and everything nice season, this recipe really hit the spot.  The curry just sings in your mouth and was such a joy to eat!

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1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon black pepper 

1 teaspoon curry powder 

3 tablespoons ghee

1 can of pumpkin puree

1 cube of vegetable bouillon (Repunzel brand is a favorite)

Salt to taste (keep in mind that your bouillon cube with have salt in it)

1 – 1 1/2 cups pure water 

4 small stalks of celery

1 yellow summer squash

1/2 of small onion 

3 leaves of chard 

3 cloves of garlic 

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     First thing to do is heat the ghee in your pot.  Add the spices to the ghee to heat.  When the mustard seeds are popping, add your chopped onion.  Wait until the onions have softened to add the garlic.  Once the garlic has become aromatic, add in your celery and squash.  Place the lid on the pot and allow to steam.  If needed, add a tablespoon of water to the pot to help this process along.  Sometimes there seems to be enough moisture from the vegetables as they cook, but you don’t want the pot to scorch.  Check after a minute how the steaming is coming along.  Give the vegetables a stir.  Add in your bouillon cube with a little bit of water (maybe a quarter cup) to begin to dissolve the cube and let it coat the vegetables.  Next add in your pumpkin puree and a cup of water.  If the consistency seems a little too thick, add in more water.  It is certainly more of a preference issue as to how thick or thin your soup should be.  Mine was somewhere in the middle.  The last thing to do is add in the chard.  When chopping chard a handy tip is to roll the leaves up together like a cigar and then chop it.  I chose to chop mine more fine for this batch of soup and it turned out well.  Allow it all to cook for a little bit longer, allowing the flavors to meld.








Everydays, Herb Power Balls

picstitch copy 6     These go by many names.  Rosemary Gladstar, my mentor’s mentor, coined them Zoom Balls.  Her intention was to provide a group of lagging students with some giddy up while out in the field.  Of course, it included caffeinated herbs, like Guarana and Kola Nut.  I believe the original formula even included Panax Ginseng and Bee Pollen, though she doesn’t include them now mostly because of their status as Endangered and a sensitive product, respectively.  Since the seventies the recipe has taken many forms, shapeshifting to fill the need, as the recipe is incredibly versatile.  It seems every herbalist will have their favorite recipe.


My teacher, Emily Ruff, who I interviewed a bit ago in this post here, calls them by a name I rather like.  Her Ninja balls work under the cover of sweet and nutty goodness to hide the medicine.  She likes to bring in nutritive and adaptogenic herbs to enhance ones vitality in a very long lasting, foundational way.   Mineral rich herbs like nettles, oatstraw and their milky tops, and alfalfa are truly supreme at restoring nutritive gaps, especially for the nervous system, and I highly recommend them to everyone!  Adaptogenic herbs are similarly important for vibrant health, which are generally accepted to be herbs that move the body towards homeostasis, bettering it’s ability to ward off stress and improve it’s resiliency.

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I picked up this little bag of Sunrise Minerals at Milagro in Santa Fe during one of my yearly trips. The herbies working there are always lovely!  Do stop in and say hello if you are ever there.  You can find them on their website, or another great option is Racheal Jean’s Green Drink.  

Needless to say, these little balls pack a punch.  They make a great afternoon or after school snack, and I can vary the ingredients slightly based on the fluctuations of our health.  Mostly, I stick to my allies.  These are the herbs I want to take everyday, hence the name I gave them- Everydays- nodding to their residual nature; their effects and benefits unfolding slowly as they build up in our bodies.

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hemp seeds and shiitake mushroom powder

They mirror Emily’s Ninja Balls, just with a different name.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?


1/4 c hemp seeds (nourishing, excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids)

1/4 c shiitake mushroom powder (adaptogenic, immuno-enhancer)

1/4 c ashwagandha powder (adaptogenic)

scant 1/4 c sunrise minerals, or a powdered mixture of your favorite mineral rich herbs (nourishing)

1/4 c raw cacao

3/4 c sunflower seeds butter (or YOUR favorite nut butter)

1/2 c raw, local honey 

buckwheat groats for rolling

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the dough


     Begin by mixing all of your dry herb powders and the cacao together in a bowl very well, to ensure an equal amount of each herb finds its way into each ball.  Then add both your honey and your nut butter.  This part takes a little elbow grease.  Stir and fold the powders into the nut butters and honey.  There really isn’t an easy or pretty way to accomplish this.  It’s a hot mess.  *See bowl above*

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buckwheat groats

Once the dough comes together, you can tear 1/2 tablespoon to tablespoon sized amounts off the big dough ball and roll them into  small one or two bite Everydays.  If your dough doesn’t just come together, as sometimes, depending on the different herbs you choose to use and their different properties, it won’t, then use more of either the wet ingredients or dry ingredients to remedy the batch.  For example, if I make a batch and I’m finding that the dough is just too gooey, I might add some more cacao powder.  In a particularly difficult to remedy batch, I might reach for carob instead, as it tends to absorb very well.  On the other hand, if it isn’t coming together at all and its just too dry, I’ll slowly add more honey and/or nut butter a bit at a time.  You will be surprised how one tablespoon to the next can change its state dramatically.  

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*rolling them in the groats gives them extra nutrition, but also makes them pretty!  try rolling them in chopped nuts, seeds, coconut, or a mixture of these, perhaps with a sprinkle of cacao nibs? *

 Finally, spill some buckwheat groats onto a plate and roll the balls in them until each are covered.  

If balls just aren’t your thing or you just can’t bear the innuendos that inevitably come up as you serve them (even among seasoned herbies) you can always save time and simply press these into a baking pan and cut them into squares.  I might refrigerate them beforehand to make the knife slide better.  Cookie cutters are always fun, too!

Any favorite recipes out there for herb balls?  I always need new inspiration!  What are your everyday herbs?


xo, libby

Pecorino, Lemon, + Garlic Kale

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There is magic in this recipe.  No, really.  There is!  There is magic in the dressing, as it seems everything it touches turns into something extra special, and there is magic in the kale, because kale is the modern beacon for nutrient dense eating.

And with good reason– kale offers you an abundance of vitamins and minerals (check out the link for a favorite website on the nutrition of different foods, ORAC, and ANDI ratings), and it will offer you its nature, which is sattvic and pure.

What I love about this trend– this love of kale– is that it has encouraged Americans to embrace bitter again.  An oft neglected taste that sends signals to the stomach and liver to churn out bile, bitter is supreme when it comes to more digestive harmony.  You can take advantage of this physiological charm by making sure you are eating well rounded meals that incorporate bitter tastes.  Another great way is by taking digestive bitters.  Angelica, gentian, and artichoke leaf are all classic bitter herbs and can be found in many classic digestive formulas, but there are many different variations and every herbalist has their favorite.  Ultimately it is a personal preference.  But taking a teaspoon or so thirty minutes before a meal can truly help in the digestion (and further assimilation!) of your meal, specifically in breaking down fats and proteins.

I initially got this recipe from Heidi Swanson over at    Not personally, of course, but from her beautiful blog.  I encourage you to stop by and check it out if you haven’t already.  It will not disappoint!  Sophisticated rustic vegetarian inspiration for days!  And for those of you who aren’t vegetarians, do not be deterred.  I have found inspiration on her pages throughout all of my eating trends.  Her message is simply whole food.


The original recipe was plucked from Melissa Clark’s cookbook In A Kitchen With A Good Appetite (Heidi’s write up is here), and is a glorious kale salad.  This is a salad I have made countless times and almost every single person I have made this for asks for the recipe.  It is just that good.  The lemon is rounded out by the salty pecorino and pungent garlic, and good olive oil here really shines.

The lemon macerates the kale, penetrating the cell walls a bit, making it both easier to chew and more easily digested.  (That last link there was for my Aunt Cal, who became rather tickled with my use of this word.)

While I love this salad, heart and soul, I wasn’t looking for cold today.  Albeit the day’s blue sky and window opening opportunity, North Florida has had a string of thunderstorms and cold weather.  A cold salad didn’t feel right.  So I opted to slightly steam the kale– more of a wilt than a steam, really.  I wilted it in a kiss of olive oil and a glug of water, and then dressed it once in my bowl.  Alongside a sweet potato, lunch was served.

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1-2 bunches of dinosaur kale (depending on the size of the leaves)

1 lemon

2 cloves of garlic, lazy minced

1/4- 1/2 c pecorino cheese, sub parmesan if its on hand

2 T cold-pressed olive oil


Begin by ripping the leaves away from their ribs and placing the torn pieces in your sauté pan.  Add a glug of water and a tablespoon of olive oil into the pan.  This will help get the steaming going, and keep the kale from scorching on the bottom of the pan.  

     Before beginning the kale, return to your cutting board to prepare the dressing.  In a bowl, combine the garlic, the pecorino, the juice of the lemon, and the remaining 1 T of olive oil.

     Then on high heat, allow the kale to cook, covered, for about 1 minute.  Turn the heat, then, to medium and allow to cook for another few moments until the kale is just wilted.  Take off heat and leave lid OFF the pan.  Stir the kale to release the steam.  

     Put the now wilted kale on top of the dressing and with two spoons, toss the kale until it is sufficiently combined.    

I imagine this dressing would be equally delicious on other vegetables, as a flavor profile for a brothy soup, or tossed into a chicken (or tuna?) salad.  Sky’s the limit.  Let me know if you end up trying this on something else… successes and failures!  I can always appreciate a warning!


xo, libby

Mesquite Cacao-Butter Cookies


I’m just so pleased with the way these turned out.  These are as beautiful as they sound!  The mesquite powder has a sweet, chocolatey caramel flavor to it and the cacao butter adds that characteristic richness.  Nothing but excessive niceness; you might think about having a light lunch.

I say if you are going to indulge, a no-stops, homemade confection is the way to go.  You just cannot control the ingredients or intentions of those that make store bought items.  Even seemingly healthful things, like almond milks, are no more than processed foods.  Forgo them for the real thing.  For some, that might mean soaking almonds and blending them into a delicious almond milk, and for others, it might mean finding a local dairy that sells their raw milk “for pet consumption only” (this is the only lawful way of selling raw milk to consumers in the state of Florida…. which is complete balderdash… but that is another post entirely).

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I love the robin’s blue shells~ pure novelty!

In addition to raw milk, I also used some eggs from Navera Farms.  They are unpasteurized and as true to pasture raised as I will get here in Jacksonville short of getting a few from a friend.  The deep, rich yellow of the yolk usually will give away clues as to what the chickens’ diet was and their stress levels, but these days even factory farmers have suspect ways of adding things to their feed to keep their yolk a satisfying gold.  I can only hope that these yolks came by their impressive color naturally.  picstitchLook at those beauties!

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Happy girl!

My niece, Carys, was lots of help in the kitchen, keeping good spirits and adding to the baking cheer.  SHe had started off in the Maya wrap, but before I could even melt the butters, she had had enough.  I propped her up in her little seat so she could watch.  picstitch copy 5


1 cup of Einkhorn flour (this particular strain of wheat has never been hybridized or modified)

1 cup oat flour

1 cup mesquite powder/flour

1 teas baking soda

1 teas baking powder

2 cups sugar (I prefer the Repunzel brand as it is unrefined and unbleached)

1/2 stick of butter, melted

4 oz cacao butter, melted 

1/2 c raw cacao

2 capfuls of vanilla, approximation is fine

3 farm fresh eggs

1/4 cup of milk

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Here you can see the three flours side by side in a little color wheel.  picstitch

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picstitch copy 9Procedure:

     Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

     Begin by mixing the dry ingredients together in a bowl.  That includes all three flours, the baking soda and powder, and the salt.  Mixing well with a whisk to ensure they are evenly combined.  Set aside.  Next, crack the three eggs into a large mixing bowl.   Add the melted butters, the vanilla, and the sugar and stir with a spoon.  Once well mixed, add the cacao.  Incorporate the dry ingredients a cup or so at a time.  No need to be totally accurate with your measurements.   Lastly, if the dough is still dry, as mine was, add the milk a tablespoon at a time until it is wet and comes together.  

     Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Spoon the dough onto the parchment in about two to two and a half tablespoon amounts.  Bake for 9 minutes, no more!  They will come out looking puffy and wet looking.  You will think you’ve failed and they’ve come out wrong.  But you haven’t!  Let them cool on the parchment for at least 30 minutes before trying your first bite.  They will begin to fall and only get better as they cool.  The results have a slight tooth to them on the outside, but are rich and chewy on the inside.

By the end of it all, Carys and I shared milk and cookies… well, she had her mommy’s milk, and I had a cookie.  It sent her into a milk-coma and she fell fast asleep.  I washed up, and she dreamt on.




Lip and Scent Pots


Today’s make was inspired by these beautiful soapstone keepsake boxes I found while in Santa Fe.  They were hand carved in Kenya and are Fair Trade Federation Certified to boot- so many wonderful things to appreciate here.  It was love at first sight.  I asked the shop keeper if there were more of them,  “… possibly in the back?”  I walked out with eight of these beauties, and a mind to make them truly useful by filling them with handcrafted lip balms and scented salves.  Yuletide season’s gifting complete!


For the lip pots I chose the joyful, heady and mouthwatering grapefruit, and blended it with half as much camphor-like tea tree.  This blend will be great for anyone, but will be a boon for those who suffer from fever blisters, as tea tree is anti-viral.  In addition, tea tree essential oil is anti-bacterial, antiseptic, and anti-fungal.


This green box in particular I’m keeping for myself as a scent pot.  In more familiar terms, it is a solid perfume.  I blended together the essential oils of myrrh, which is grounding and warm, and basil, which is somewhat cool and spicy.  I’m a fan of finding those fragrance combinations that are out of the norm.  This site here, 100% pure essential oils, has a nice breakdown of which essential oils are top notes, which are middle notes, and which are base.  It can be a good guide on your blending journey.


*As a general guide, one needs a 1:2 ratio of wax to oils.  You can experiment from there based on how you’d like to use your balm or salve.*

1 ounce 100% pure beeswax

4 T olive oil

4T shea butter

essential oils of your choice


I’ll start off by mentioning that most people use a double boiler method for this, and I’d recommend it (because I don’t want you to scald your materials and blame me 🙂 ).  To do this you’ll need a medium sized saucepan and a smaller pyrex, glass, or enamel bowl, measuring cup or a smaller saucepan.  Measuring cups are nice because you can hang them on the lip of the saucepan, but do be careful that water doesn’t find its way into the bowl.  This will ruin your balm or salve, causing mold.  

 First fill the saucepan about 3/4 full, or perhaps a bit less, with water and heat the water.  Once the water is hot enough, place the smaller bowl into the water.  Place your beeswax in to melt first.  It will take the longest to melt.  Once melted, add in your shea butter.  Wait until it is melted and then add the olive oil.  Mix well with a spoon so that you know your oils and wax are thoroughly combined.  At this point I like to run a test.  I’ll get a spoonful of my salve and put it in the freezer.  This ensures the salve is the exact consistency you are looking for.  If it is too soft, add more wax.  Too hard, add more oils.  Finally, add in your essential oils.  Reheating after you’ve added your essential oils will cause them to diffuse, as is their nature.  SO, it is always good to do a test spoon first.  

Pour or spoon your balm into the pots, tins, or tubes you’ve chosen as the container. has some great selections!  This is also the place I will point you to for purchasing all the items you will need for this project.  Pouring the oils in will yield a cleaner looking pour than spooning.  Make sure to keep the lids off until they are completely cooled, as covering them can cause condensation, and then, the dreaded mold.  

Happy balming!  Let me know how your lip pots and scent pots turn out, what essential oil combinations you love, and what beautiful containers you found!  I love to hear from you!

xo, injoy,


Understanding Massage with Sean Pamphile, LMT

Sean Pamphile is a very talented Licensed Massage Therapist that I have the honor of receiving treatments from.  His touch and massage are always purpose driven and intentional.  I love it!  Here is an email conversation from Sean and myself where Sean discusses “what it happening” when one receives a massage physiologically within the body.  Thank you Sean!

(Not too sure why my text won’t change to a larger font.  Use the zoom tool under View on your toolbar, or command +… my apologies.)

1. What do you think about most when someone is on the table?

When a client lays on my table I am thinking about muscles.  My hands are relaying a mental picture for me which allows me to plan my treatment.  The conversation is to distract from the intensity of the triggers being released, however after this process happens I do drift and my thoughts can dwell on my family, friends, food.  Sometimes I get what I call a spiritual connection where I feel a greater sense of compassion.

2. What is your approach?  We spoke the other day about there being many different modalities.  What is yours?

     My approach is very simple.  First I practice Neuro Muscular Therapy (N.M.T.).  Its principles teach that muscle pain is caused by poor blood flow, nerve entrapment or compression, postural distortion, biochemical dysfunction and trigger points. So, lets look at each one of these concepts.
Poor blood flow-
     Blood flow is very important.  It is how our cells get rid of waste, get energy, oxygen, and other nutriments and chemicals.  When blood flow is compromised muscles can become toxic and don’t function properly.  The brain treats this as an injury sending neurotransmitor substance p to simulate pain nerves so you wont move the muscle.  What compromises blood flow? Tight muscles and fascia.
     Fascia is connective tissue that wraps around muscles, organs, and creates structural planes in the body for support.  It is sticky in nature.  It forms to repetitive movement and can become hard and restrict movement.  It can also entrap nerves and blood supply.  If you have ever cleaned raw chicken it is the white film that is on the meat.
Nerve entrapment and compression-
     There are many nerves in the muscle that make it function, and like blood flow, if it is compromised muscles won’t operate properly.
Biochemical dysfunction-
     This deals with the brain producing neurotransmitors that control muscle.  Three main nerves in the muscle gogli nerve (limits length), spindle nerve (controls contraction), and motor nerve (action).  If the brain doesn’t produce enough of these neurotransmitors then the muscle is limited.
Postural distortion-
      Most common is leg height or scoliosis.  This will cause one or several muscle to work harder.  This type of stress will cause the muscle to over develop and over power the complementing or opposite muscle and cause pain.
Trigger points-
     A trigger is a neurological center in a muscle which causes it to contract the muscle.  By applying pressure to it you can break up the signal and cause the muscle to release.
     So first I warm the body/soft tissue area by deep gliding stroke.  This will promote blood flow, loosen any scar tissue or fascia.  Deep gliding also stimulates the brain causing neurotransmitors to be created which helps in the function of proper muscle and nerve function.  So just by deep gliding in the right direction you can release tension and sometimes this is all one needs.  However, trigger points may need to be released in the muscle.  Postural distortion can sometimes be corrected if it was caused by tight muscles.
     I like using this technique because it gives results.  My clients at first complain about the intensity of the therapy (the pain) however after a few treatments they don’t even notice.  However, I base my pressure on how it is stimulating the body.  I also revisit an area several times to get it to release and muscles release when they want too or when the brain haves produced enough neurotransmitors for this to happen.
      There will be side affects.  Sometimes, depending on the therapy, soreness is normal.  It may last up to four days, though usually it will last no more than 48 hrs.  This is due to toxins (waste in the muscles) that have been released during therapy. You may even feel flu like symtoms too.  All normal.  That is we always say drink lots of water to help flush these toxins out and rehydrate the muscles.  Resting is important, taking it easy for the next couple of days, allowing your body to heal.
3. What are the benefits of massage?
Well the benefits are numerous.  I like to explain it like this: what you touch on the outside stimulates the inside.  So real simple- skin and muscle, nerves, and the brain are the key componants here.  We stimulate the skin and muscles which activate different nerves.  Now we have nerves that feel different types of pressure (light to deep), temperature, space (balance), pain and the best pleasure.  All this information goes to the brain where neuro-transmitors are created.  Neuro transmitors are chemicals the brain creates and it is specific for that person.  So dopamine which controls muscles and emotions we all make but our body has its own recipe for making it.  So when we are feeling down or our body feels slow our brain is not producing enough dopamine. Neuro transmitors also stimulate the nerves that control every system in our body.  To name some of these systems: digestive, endocrine, cardio, these are the main important ones.  When these systems are functioning properly then they indirectly help other systems in your body function properly. Massage can help manage most physcial and mental ailments barring disease and fractures and tears.  Therefore when you get a massage you are causing the brain to re-tune the body completely.  The human body is meant to be touched everyday, so getting a professional massage and making physical contact with people daily is key to our well being.
4. Do you think that people under utilize massage?
     Yes!!!  In ancient times massage was done daily.  It sometimes was done communaly.  What better way to bond as a group then to tend to each other.  The number one reason why people don’t get massages is they don’t know what it’s about.  There is a massage technique for whatever pains you.  I feel that we in the industry haven’t done a good job at promoting ourselves and services.  Regular massage can make a big diference in your well being.  Think of it as a tune up.  Especially as we get older, our body slowes down– its a fact.  It needs the help to stay at proper functioning level.  Massage can help.  Even once a month can make a difference.  And don’t be afraid to get a long session.
5. What are things of to take note of when finding a massage therapist?
     Its trial and error.  Sorry.  Even for me I have a hard time finding a good therapist.  You can ask other people who had a good experience who to go to but other than that it is hard quest.  Its like finding a good hair dresser lol!!!!
6. How can people reach you if they would like to have a session with you?
Contacting me directly is the best.  My cell is 352 256 0799.  I am an independant contractor and I work at two places.  The first is Deerwood Country Club in the fitness center for the members and their friends and second at Paradice Palms Massage in Ponte Vedra.  My second place is open to the public and has reasonable pricing. Actually both places have reasonable pricing.  I also am available for house calls.
A big thank you to Sean for diving into all of these questions!

Orenda Herbal with Emily Ruff

    What follows is an email ‘conversation’, if you will, between myself and Emily Ruff, the director of the Florida School of Holistic Living and the co-founder of Orenda Herbals.  I have learned so much of what I know thanks to Emily, and I wanted to share some of her abundant knowledge directly with you.   Thank you Emily!
     You can see her influence in my own approach to herbs in the home in my post on Hibiscus Tea.

1. What herbal formulas do you prepare for your family?  What things do you like to have around the house?  

     My favorite herbal formulas are prepared as a daily tisane (herbal tea) for my family.  I prepare them a gallon at a time to ensure there is always tasty medicine on hand for my family.  I try to prepare a nutritive blend (like Orenda’s Harmony) or a blend for the nervous system (like Orenda’s Stress Less) because these types of teas are useful for everyone in the family, no matter what is going on with their health.  I will add a smidge of honey to make sure everyone will gulp it down and usually keep it in the fridge for a refreshing summer brew.

 2. Can you share one or two accounts of how herbs have been effective in treating you or your families symptoms or the root of your health issues?

      Every cold and flu we’ve experienced in the last decade has been successfully treated with herbal remedies – not minute clinics or doctors.  It is inspiring and empowering to connect with the plants and use their gifts to heal our families.  In fact, it is our birthright!  I am always amazed at how simple herbs can shorten the duration of these common illnesses and bring us back into balance and brightness more quickly.  I have also been amazed at the use of daily herbal blends to treat inflammatory conditions like arthritis and digestive concerns.

3. Tell us a little bit about Orenda Herbal. 

       Orenda Herbal is an herbalist-owned company that has been making herbal medicines since 2004.  Jackie Feasel and I tested all our formulas with our families, and it was this rigorous feedback that led us to our most popular blends.  We use strictly organic ingredients, and strive to use as many from the Orenda Herbal gardens or from local growers as seasonally possible, to support our local agricultural economy and ensure the purity and potency of our products.  Our primary focus is tisanes because we believe it is a great and tasty way to take our herbal medicine, and useful for all members of the family.  You can use tisane blends in the bath tub too, which creates a delightful atmosphere.   In addition, we offer seasonal blends of elixirs, made from locally grown ingredients, to honor the cycles of the gardens we tend.  Elixirs are more concentrated, and great for portability in a diaper bag or purse.  We also offer topical preparations with the herbs from our gardens, like our Ouch Ease line, which provide healing for cuts, bumps, and scrapes without the use of petrochemicals.  The best way to achieve radiant wellness using herbal remedies is to use herbs on a daily basis.  Find one herb, or one blend, that you can make by the gallon for your family, and drink several cups a day, instead of a soda or a coffee, for instance.  Optimal health does not come from finding a quick fix to a health issue, but from using tonic herbal allies to prevent those health issues in the first place.

4. Why herbs?

      Like I said, it is our birthright!  Humans have always wandered the fields and forests, nibbling along the way.  Just a few generations ago, every family had an herbalist – a grandmother, a father, an aunt – who would provide primary healthcare and preventative medicine to their families.  We’ve lost that way of life, but fortunately, just by going into our backyards, we can reclaim this way of life for ourselves and our loved ones.  Herbal medicine provides us balancing, nourishing tools that avoid the common plethora of side effects of our modern pharmacopeia, and best of all, they are available right outside our door, offering a sensible approach to preventative wellness that is affordable and accessible, not to mention more environmentally responsible.  At a time when our modern medical system is attributed as the cause for over 800,000 deaths in the US each year, it is more imperative than ever to find a more natural, harmonizing way of health.  This is where herbal medicine fits in so beautifully.  Certainly in acute health situations, we should rely upon the technologies of modern medicine, but we can look to the plants to prevent those situations in the first place, and provide an arsenal of tools for those common but less serious illnesses, like the flu.  If your grandmother would have cared for an illness from her kitchen, you can too!

     To learn more about Emily Ruff, the School of Holistic Living, and Orenda Herbal I encourage you to visit some of these links!

Gold for Colds


     This week Bodhi brought home a cold from school.  I should have started pushing echanacea immediately for both of us, but sometimes he will get a runny nose and no other symtoms.  I thought it might blow over.  It didn’t.  Instead we are both home from school and work, respectively, taking it easy. 

     So I wanted to write a post specific to the topic of caring for colds in the home, without OTC medications or trips to the doctor.  I find that these methods lighten our symptoms and aid our immune systems to heal.  For instance, throughout this particular cold, Bodhi and I have dodged the bullet of becoming completely ‘stuffed up’ in our sinuses, and are just experiencing rather runny noses.

     One thing I am mindful of with herbs is that they often operate on our body’s level.  Meaning that they are often working at the body’s pace to heal itself; these herbs encourage the bodies natural tendencies toward reconciliation.

       I remember reading a book about the Vietnam War that shared an anecdote about the US soldiers who would find children with red rings on their back.  In their ignorance, they assumed it was some sort of punitive measure by parents.  In fact, it was a therapy called cupping, where a cup is place on one’s back and a candle behind the cup.  As the cup warms, it creates a sort of vaccuum, pulling the skin into the cup promoting blood flow.  I often think of mother’s tenderly cupping their sick children when I am rubbing Bodhi down with my therapies, and it reminds me that sometimes it is not what we do, but how we do it, and that we do it at all.  Caring for… nurturing… sympathy… compassion… love.  These, I would argue, can be the most powerful healers of all.  

     One of my favorites is eucalyptus essential oil.  I mix one drop with a teaspoon of pure sesame oil (this can be any kind of oil, even olive oil) and warm it with my hands.  Then I rub it all over Bodhi’s chest.  Immediately, his gaze becomes fixed, his breathing slows.  He takes in the caring massage as much as he does the scent of the oil.  It really helps to open up the nasal congestion.  (Think Vick’s Vapor Rub without the extra chemicals).  I will also add eucalyptus and lavender essential oils to his bath or humidifier in his room.

     Mists are often a nice way of calming a fussy, overheated, feverish child.  I like to mix rose water with some Bach’s Flower Essences Rescue Remedy.  I’ll mist it over Bodhi and let it fall on his face and body—very cooling for any pitta that seems to be overwhelming him. 

     Also, let’s not forget my previous post on ginger honey.  It can calm any nausea, is warming to the body and can potentially help drainage, much the way spicy food does. 

     A note about when to apply warming therapy versus cooling- You really have to consider all of the symptoms.  As an example, let’s say Bodhi is congested with a fever.  Do I include warming foods for congestion, even though he has a fever?  If it won’t cause discomfort, then it’s fine.  The sweating induced can also cool you. 

     Just remember that you can cool with cool or, less effectively (in my opinion), with heat via sweating (via broth, ginger, spicy foods, elder), but you can’t warm with cool. 


     These are the herbs that I like Bodhi and I to start taking once it is apparent that we are getting a cold. 

  • Echanacea– This herb is superb for boosting the immune system.  Imagine it as a drill sergeant ordering all of your macrophage T-cell soldiers to come to the front lines of defense.  That is why this is not recommended over long periods of time and is best used when symptoms are acute.  It becomes less effective if used for long periods of time as well, so use it in cycles of 5 days on, 2 off until you are well.
  • Contraindication: auto immune system disorders or an overactive immune system.
  • Elder – Often used in syrup form, these berries and the flower are perfect for little ones because it tastes so good.  It is very high in vitamin c and has immune enhancing properties.  It can induce sweating, as it is an effective diaphoretic, so it can be used to reduce fever if one is present.  Be mindful, however, that fevers can be a sign that your immune system is working.  Unless there is discomfort from the fever or it is above the safe range of temperatures, I personally leave it alone.  Your body is working!  Amazing!

     If there is any indication that there is also a sore throat or cough present, I will also start us on:

  • Wild Cherry Bark and Horehound are both excellent expectorants for coughs.  I like to make a tincture of these together. 
  • Marshmallow and licorice are wonderful for soothing a sore throat, as both are demulcents (or will coat the throat).  Licorice also has anti-inflammatory properties.  These are nice as teas, as they can properly coat the throat.
  • Contraindication- some studies have shown that licorice increases water retention, and therefore may increase blood pressure.  Those with high blood pressure, be aware.  


     In addition to these measures, I find that some yoga asanas can be energizing (in the way that you need when you have a cold), relaxing and restoring.  Find lots of pillows and bolsters to support you in these poses.  It also helps to have a timer with a soft alert.  I like to hold them for three minutes, but if I have an extra minute or two, I’ll hold my favorite for five.  Look any of these up on  It is a great resource!

  • Uttansana (standing forward fold)- Bring a chair over to your mat and pad it with a pillow or two.  Fold forward with your feet hips width apart.  Rest your forehead on the chair’s seat.
  • Setu Bandhasana (bridge pose)- Sitting down, place two thick pillows or folded blankets behind your back.  Allow your shoulders to grace the floor.  This is such a yummy, supported pose I often stay in this one longer than three minutes. 
  • Viparita Karani (waterfall)- I like to do this one against the wall.  It allows you to completely relax.  Place a pillow or two under your derriere and your legs up resting against a wall. 


 photo from

     And last, but not least, nourish thy self!  Brothy soups and mineral rich foods are gold for colds (think seaweed, bone broth, miso, leafy greens).  Stay away from dairy, sugar, and overly acidic things (even orange juice… try a hot lemonade with honey instead) as they tend to increase phlegm and mucus. 

Get well!




 ** note to reader- I am not a certified herbalist and this is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe anyone medications, herbs, or otherwise.  It is a journal of my musings and what works for our family.**

Stainless Steel Straws

I’m having a love affair with these straws.  In fact, I got a fabulous idea after reading a post by The Spunky Coconut blog about making a sipper cup using one of these little suckers (that was a pun…) along with a thin, small jelly jar and its lid.  She just punched a hole through the lid and whamo.  Great idea.

I will most certainly be purchasing a bouquet of these for my kitchen.  Bodhi thinks straws are fun 🙂 ….. and so do I.




Baggie Ice Cream Maker

So this is kind of cool… last summer- or was it the summer before that?- I was really into making frozen yogurt out of Greek yogurt and sweetening/flavoring it with things in the kitch at hand.  I remember chamomile honey, mint cocoa nib, and maple cardamom as highlights.  But as Bodhi and I try to squeeze every last drop of summer out of the first twenty or so days of September, we’ve been getting out the good ole blender and then freezing these concoctions in a large locking baggie.

     I will then put this bag of mess right on the ice cubes.  Every thirty minutes or so take it out and shake it up, turn it over and over, massage it.  Then put it back for another thirty.  Do this until it has a nice creamy consistency.  It will be icier than regular ice cream for sure because there is not consistent motion, but… eh.  It still tastes good.

I would stay away from combinations that closely resemble smoothies… they taste like smoothies.  Ice cream to me should have a richer, novel taste.  Bodhi and I did coconut milk and mango for this one in the pic (very simple.. just blend a can of coconut milk and two mangos).  But I have my eye on something chocolatey and trying my hand at another mint chip.  For something really special it might look something like this:

2 cups half and half

1 cup whipping cream

8-ish drops of stevia, or other sweetener of choice (I recommend tasting it after 4 drops, then 8, and so on until its perfect)

2 drops of peppermint oil

1/2 cup of chocolate chips or cocoa nibs (or a mixture, why not?)

1 vanilla bean, split and scrapped down its middle

Put all of this (EXCEPT for the chocolate chips/nibs) in a blender, just for peace of mind that it is all thoroughly blended.  I think that I would go ahead and add the chocolate chips and cocoa nibs to the blender for a different version, but my first try I might go for a pretty white speckled mint chip.  Pour this into a locking baggie.  I double bagged just to be on the safe side.  The last thing you want is a cold mess on your floor from handling the baggie too rough (relax, okay?).  I have not tried this recipe, but plan to tomorrow (look for an update).  But that is a classic recipe right there… it all comes down to the baggie method of creaming it, not the ingredients.

This is another recipe to use handy stevia.  I just think that this herb is amazingly versatile.  Once you figure out how much is to your taste and the point before its bitter aftertaste (which is why some don’t like it) you are golden.  I will definitely be growing this herb in my garden this fall.  Hopefully I can make my own tincture and simple stevia “syrups”.

Happy ice cream making!