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March 2015 Issue

Posted in Uncategorized on March 1st, 2015 by kristine — Be the first to comment!

March2015

Often cursed, Honeysuckle can be a bit invasive in North America. This month we’ll explore this highly valued Traditional Chinese Medicinal herb and learn how we can use this herb for valuable medicine. As the popular adage goes, “If you can’t beat them, use them!”….or something like that.

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Both invasive and native species of Honeysuckle can be used so work with the plant that you find to be growing most abundantly in your backyard or region.

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Heady Honeysuckle Table of Contents:

Note to Parents
Supply List
Calendar
Herb Spirit
All About Honeysuckle
Herbal Glossary
Scramble, Search and More: Word Search, Circle the Energetics, List the Vitamins and Minerals,  Word Scramble, Multiple Choise
Herbal Botany
Herbal Lore: How Honeysuckle Got Her Flame Red Flowers
Songs and Poems: Honeysuckle, Honeysuckle Haiku
Herbal Recipes: Honeysuckle Extract, Honeysuckle Elixir, Honeysuckle Tea, Honeysuckle Infusion, Honeysuckle Infused Oil, Honeysuckle Salve, Honeysuckle Poultice, Honeysuckle Flower Essence
Coloring Page
Herbal Crafts: Pressing/rubbing/drawing of Honeysuckle, Honeysuckle Vine Crafts, Preparing Honeysuckle Vines, Honeysuckle Vine Bracelet
*NEW* Herbal Jokes and Puns
Maze: Which Path Should The Hummingbird Moth Take to Find the Honeysuckle?
Journal: Write your thoughts, medicine making notes and other information about your month with Honeysuckle
Crossword Puzzle
Resources

54 pages from Cover to Cover. This month only, $3.99. After March 31, 2015, the price will go up to $7.99. To purchase your instant eBook download in PDF format, click here:

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Or, you can subscribe for an entire year of Herbal Roots zine for just $34.99

[Herbal Rootslets]: No. 41 – 7 of our favorite sources for herbal coloring and activity books

Posted in Uncategorized on February 26th, 2015 by kristine — 3 Comments

our favorite coloring and activities books

Whenever I have found myself stuck in the ways I relate to things, I return to nature. It is my principal teacher, and I try to open my whole being to what it has to say.”

– Wynn Bullock

Brrr! It’s cold outside and now that the novelty of snow has worn off and temperatures are plummeting into the negative numbers, my kids do not want to be outside right now. Days like these, I brew up a batch of Spicy Cocoa and break out the coloring books and crayons. It’s great fun to color and they get to learn a bit about herbs while they are doing it! There are some great coloring books available and these are a few of my favorites:

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Medicinal Plants of North America: A Flora Delaterre Coloring Book by Beth Judy
We just love Flora Delaterre! Created by Beth Judy, her website is a wealth of herbal information in bite sized pieces. She extended that to this her coloring book which features 14 herbs found in North America.

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A Kid’s EcoJournal with Nature Activities for Exploring the Season by Toni Albert
This series includes winter, spring, summer and fall. While they are not coloring books, they are a great way to introduce nature into your life with seasonally appropriate activities and journaling exercises. There is also an accompanying EcoPrints: A Complete Kit for Writing About Nature package that can be purchased and has some great writing prompts for those wanting to incorporate more nature into their other activities.

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Dover Coloring Books
I just love the variety Dover Coloring Books offers! There are so many to choose from, they make a great addition to our herbal learning resources.

Our favorites include:

Common Weeds Coloring Book

Trees of the Northeast Coloring Book

Medicinal Plants Coloring Book

Favorite Wildflowers Coloring Book

Herbs Coloring Book

Mushrooms of the World Coloring Book

Young botanists might also enjoy the Botany Coloring Book.

Check out the complete plant related coloring book list on our website.

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Wild Foods and Animals Coloring Book by Linda Runyon
Linda Runyon has created many delightful books on the foraging aspect of plants. Her coloring book is great fun, pairing up animals with the plants.

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Children’s Permaculture Guild A B C’s Coloring Book
Annual subscribers get a revised edition (created with Roman’s permission) but the pages are available on the Children’s Permaculture website for free. The revised edition is bigger, with one picture per page instead of four.

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USDA Wildflower and Noxious Weeds Coloring Pages
Free online coloring pages of wild plants. Lots to choose from! You can print off single pictures or entire coloring books, they have 7 coloring books to choose from and over 60 single pages available.

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Herbal Roots zine
And of course, Herbal Roots zine always has lots of coloring and activity pages in every issue! There are typically 10 pages of activities including a maze, crossword puzzle, word search, word scramble, botany matching, coloring page and more, plus 2 journaling pages and a page to add a plant pressing in each issue.

What are your kids’ favorite herbal coloring and activity books?

Giveaway Monday – Numen: The Healing Power of Plants DVDs

Posted in Uncategorized on February 23rd, 2015 by kristine — 37 Comments

*** THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THE 5 LUCKY WINNERS ARE:
13 – Deidre
7 – Calla
19 – Lisa
26 – Rebekah
18 – Elisha

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF YOU AND THANKS FOR VISITING HERBAL ROOTS ZINE!!***dvd_single_rev

This week I have a special treat! I am giving away 5 copies of the film Numen: The Healing Power of Plants to 5 lucky winners! This beautiful and educational film was created by Ann Armbrecht and Terrence Youk, the same folks who are working to bring you the Sustainable Herbs Project.

Just what is Numen? I’ll let this excerpt from the Numen website answer that question:

Numen, defined as the animating force in nature, is a 75-minute documentary film focusing on the healing power of plants and the natural world.

Featuring stunning footage of medicinal plants and thought-provoking interviews with Drs. Tiearona Lowdog and Larry Dossey, the late Bill Mitchell, ND, author Kenny Ausubel, herbalists Rosemary Gladstar, Phyllis Light and many others, the film calls for a re-awakening of traditional knowledge about plants and their uses.

Numen is for herbalists, gardeners, medical practitioners, plant lovers—and everyone concerned about human and environmental health. It offers an introduction to the following topics:

  • Whole plant medicine
  • Ecological medicine
  • Environmental toxins
  • The limits of allopathic medicine
  • Spirit and healing and more

A primary objective of Numen is to bring the same awareness to medicine and the medical industry that the organic food movement has brought to food and the food industry. The film presents a sobering view of conventional healthcare and the dangers of environmental insults, as well as a vision of safe, effective and sustainable medicine. It offers stories about how individuals have improved their own health and well-being and provides concrete steps for viewers to do so as well.

Most broadly, the film encourages viewers to think deeply about the sources of their medicine and how their healthcare choices affect themselves and the larger web of life. It inspires us all to deepen our relationship with the natural world and reminds us of the healing made possible by re-embracing our place in the wider web of life.

Love Numen? You can show your support by ‘liking’ them on Facebook. Tell them Herbal Roots zine sent you!

Want a chance to win a copy of the Numen DVD? Leave a comment, telling us which of the 10 things you commit to doing this year. For more chances to win, leave a separate comment every time you do one of the following:

-if you’re a kid, tell me how old you are and what your favorite Herbal Roots zine activities are

-Check out Numen’s website and make a pledge to try to do 10 things this year

-Blog about it (leave reference link)

-Follow Numen Film and Herbal Roots zine on Pinterest and pin this giveaway with hashtags #numenfilm #giveawaymonday #herbalrootszine (list your pinterest name in comments so we can find you)

-Become a follower of Numen Film and Herbal Roots zine on Twitter and tweet this giveaway with hashtags #numenfilm #giveawaymonday #herbalrootszine (list your twitter ID in comments so we can find you)

-Follow Numen Film and  Herbal Roots zine on Instagram and share this giveaway with hashtag #giveawaymondayhrz  and tag @herbalrootszine (list your Instagram name in comments so we can find you)

-Sign up for the Herbal Roots zine monthly newsletter (and receive an issue for free!)

Sign ups end on and I’ll draw the winner on Monday, March 2, 2015. Thanks for entering and good luck!

The Sustainable Herbs Project

Posted in Uncategorized on February 19th, 2015 by kristine — 5 Comments

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Has your subscription to Herbal Roots zine lapsed? Have you wanted to subscribe but just haven’t gotten around to it? Well, now’s the time to renew or get that subscription you’ve wanted while helping out a great cause. I’ll explain more about that in a minute but first, I want to talk to you about something that is very important in the herbal world, sustainability of our plants.

Many people have started seeing the importance of the food they feed their families. They are learning about the dangers of GMOs, herbicides and pesticides and do their best to keep the exposure to these poisons away from their children and loved ones. Because of consumer demand, farmer’s markets are cropping up in towns all across the country (yay!) and the commercial food industry’s jumping on the bandwagon, so to speak, offering more natural ingredients in their products.

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But what about our supplements and medicinal herbs?

While we can attend farmer’s markets, get to know the farmers who grow the produce and raise the animals, often there are not local herb growers to supply us with our herbs for medicinal use. Where do our herbs come from? Are they sustainably grown? Are they free from pesticides and other toxic substances that shouldn’t be there?

As an advocate for the plants, I have always encouraged folks to grow their own herbs or harvest them from the wild in locations that have not been sprayed. But the reality is, not everyone can do that. And there are times that I can’t do that either. So where do we turn?

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The commercial herb industry has some wonderful companies who care about this but unfortunately, there aren’t enough to go around. You may have noticed this too when trying to order your herbs from reputable herb companies, the herb you need is sold out. So then what? If we cannot buy it within the herbal community, we are forced to try to find herbs that may not be as sustainably sourced. This has bothered many of us herbalists for a long time and now, herbalist Ann Armbrecht (co-producer of Numen) has decided to do something about it and has launched a campaign to raise awareness about the sustainability of herbs.

This is important for anyone who is interested in herbal medicine, whether you choose to become an herbalist or simply have a working knowledge to help your family and friends when they are ill. As herbs become more popular and the demand increases, the supply needs to keep up but it also needs to remain sustainable.

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And because it’s SO important, I have offered up TEN annual subscriptions of Herbal Roots zine to help support the campaign!

That’s right, 10 lucky people will be able to kill 2 birds with one stone! By supporting the campaign, they will also receive a subscription to Herbal Roots zine. And, if you’re already a subscriber, they have many other wonderful gifts from folks such as Paul Bergner, jim mcdonald, Henriette Kress, Rosemary Gladstar, United Plant Savers, The Essential Herbal and many more.

EDITED TO ADD: You will still receive the bonuses that you would receive if you subscribed directly from my website.

You can be a part of this sustainability by helping to support Ann in her campaign. Please take a moment to check out her campaign and read more about why this project is so important to the herbal community. Once you’ve done so, consider sharing her kickstarter page with all your friends and contributing a few dollars to her kickstarter project if you can. Sharing her page will only take a few moments and will help to show your support of herbal sustainability, regardless of your ability to contribute financially.

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At this point, Ann only has 6 days left to get the funds needed to move forward with this project. It would only take everyone who’s reading this to contribute only $5 each for this project to be fully funded! Please help as much as you can, as jim mcdonald said so well: “Ann Armbrecht’s Sustainable Herbs Project can add a whole new layer of understanding and empowerment to this endeavor (of knowing where our herbs come from). Yes, it’s supporting Ann and it’s supporting her project, but it’s also, to an even larger degree, supporting the *plants* that are so dear to us, and work so much healing in our worlds. And that return of support is a part of a pledge that we, as herbalists, take in practicing our art. Please, consider what you can offer, and give what feels good in your heart.”

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[Herbal Rootslets]: No. 40 – Just What is Usnea, Anyway? (part of the Plants-to-Teach-Your-Kids-to-Identify Series)

Posted in Uncategorized on February 18th, 2015 by kristine — 4 Comments

Just What is Usnea?

I love being asked to identify plants, and I don’t know which gives me more pleasure: to know what they are or not to know what they are.

-Elizabeth Lawrence, Through the Garden Gates, 1990

This month’s herb is Usnea here at Herbal Roots zine. I’ve gotten a lot of curious people wondering, just what IS Usnea? To answer that question, I am sharing the “All About” section of this month’s issue of Herbal Roots zine.

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Known as old man’s beard, Usnea is found growing throughout the northern hemisphere. Though he is slow growing, he is long lived and extremely prolific. He is often found growing high up in various trees such as pine, fir, larch, fruit trees, oaks and other trees and can be easily harvested from the ground after a storm.

A member of the Parmeliaceae family, there are around 86 species in the genus Usnea. In North America, many commonly found are Usnea californica, U. florida, U. ceratina, U. hirta, U. barbara, U. longtime, U. dasypoga, and U. arizonica. All species of Usnea can be used interchangeably though some variations in constituents exist. Species of Usnea are used in Chinese medicine, contemporary homeopathic medicine, and traditional medicine in the Pacific Islands, New Zealand, and every continent except Australia.

Usnea is a lichen. Lichens are fascinating in the fact that they are a combination of a symbiotic relationship between a fungi and an algae. The easiest way to identify Usnea is by taking a moistened strand and gently pulling it apart. If it is usnea you’ll see an inner white strand that is very elastic. This inner white strand is the fungus while the green outer covering is the algae. Chewing on Usnea is not a pleasant task but if you were to do that, you would notice a bitter taste. You would also find Usnea to be drying in your mouth and cooling. These energetics tell us that Usnea is good for clearing up damp, hot conditions.

Not much research has been done on the nutritional value of Usnea. U. barbara has been found to have vitamin C. The most studied constituent is usnic acid though Usnea also contains many other constituents such as hirtusneanoside and vulpinic acid.

Medicinally, Usnea is considered to be analgesic, antibacterial, antibiotic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antineoplastic, antioxidant, antiparasitic, antiprotozoal, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitumor, antiviral, astringent, bronchodilator, drug synergist, expectorant, immunostimulant, vasodilator and vulnerary. The inner core of Usnea contains immune-stimulating polysaccharides while the outer cortex contains antibiotic substances. Usnea has an affinity for the gastrointestinal system and the skin.

There have been many studies on Usnea, finding him to be extremely effective against gram-positive bacteria [see the bar below], often more so than penicillin, but not so much against gram-negative bacteria. A few individual studies have disputed this, however, finding him to be effective against Salmonella typhimurium, Escherichia coli and Bordetella pertussis. Usnea has also been found useful in treating urinary tract infections. As a drug synergist, Usnea has found to increase the effectiveness of the antibiotic clarithromycin against Helicobacter pylori, a type of bacteria that causes ulcers. As an antibiotic, Usnea is a nonsystemic herbal antibiotic.

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Being nonsystemic means they do not easily absorb into the bloodstream through the gastrointestinal tract, therefore they are best used as a localized herbal antibiotic.

Usnea is great for treating upper respiratory infections and lung infections with his antispasmodic, a bronchial dilator, expectorant, antibacterial and antiviral actions. For those who have hot conditions, with ‘stuck’ phlegm and unproductive coughs, Usnea can help to break the phlegm and help work it out of the lungs.

Usnea’s antiviral actions have been proven to be effective against Epstein-Barr, herpes simplex, Junin virus, polyomavirus, and Tacaribe virus.

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As an antifungal, Usnea is effective against Candida spp. and other fungal strains such as Malassezia yeasts, Microsporum gypseum, Trichophyton mentagrophytes (ringworm), and T. rubrum (athlete’s foot, fungal infection of nail, jock itch, and ringworm).

Parasitical disease organisms such as Trypanosoma cruzi, Echinococcus granulosus and its cysts, and Toxoplasma gondii have also been treated effectively with Usnea and his antiparasitical/antiprotozoal actions.

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Historically, Usnea was used as a wound dressing. It was packed directly into a wound or applied on top. When a wound was packed with the Usnea, the Usnea absorbed the blood, helped to astringe (pull together) the tissue, eased pain and killed germs. Today, dried and powdered Usnea (sifted to remove the fine white cords), makes a great wound powder to help fight off and/or prevent infection and ease pain while helping the wound to heal. In Canada, veterinarians use Usnea to treat abscesses. Other veterinary practices have used usnic acid treat conjunctivitis, endometritis, mastitis and oozing, pussy wounds.

M Herbal Recipes

Research has also found Usnea and usnic acid inhibits cancer cell formation and proliferation for breast, pancreatic and colorectal cancer as well as sarcomas.

Harvesting Usnea can be tricky as he likes to grow in high branches. I find harvest is easiest after a windy day or storm as the ground will be littered with branches covered in Usnea as well as individual lichens that have fallen to the ground. Usnea dries and stores easily and can be powdered as needed.

Use Usnea in sprays, washes, powders, oils, salves, extracts, and teas.

Want to learn more? The Usnea issue is on sale for $3.99 until the end of February 2015.

Do you use Usnea in your home or is this first time you’ve heard of it? Tell us your experiences with Usnea on our website!

Next week I’ll be sharing some of our favorite coloring and activity books.

Giveaway Monday – Dried Honeysuckle from Mountain Rose Herbs

Posted in Uncategorized on February 18th, 2015 by kristine — 25 Comments

*** THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO COMMENTER #17 – MUNNA! SHE IS THE WINNER! ***

mrh-logo

This week, we are giving away some dried organic Honeysuckle, Lonicera japonica, perfect for your month of creating herbal remedies with next month’s herb, Honeysuckle, which comes out on March 1, 2015 (February 27 for subscribers).

Honeysuckle_flower8 oz organic Honeysuckle

With all this scrumptious dried Honeysuckle, you’ll have plenty of dried Honeysuckle to make all the Honeysuckle recipes in next month’s issue!

Mountain Rose Herbs is a certified organic processor through Oregon Tilth which is fully accredited with the USDA National Organic Program. Since 1987 they have continuously worked for the advancement of sustainable organic agriculture and state they will continue this lifelong passion into the future. They wholeheartedly recommend discovering the joys to be found in organic food products and the best place to start is right here at Mountain Rose Herbs. From the herbs they offer, to the teas they process and the oils they have distilled.

M0untain Rose also has a great YouTube Channel which offers an amazing amount of tutorials and educational videos, many created by John Gallagher and Rosalee de la Foret of Learningherbs.com.

You can also follow them on their Blog for more information and great Giveaway offers!

Love Mountain Rose Herbs? You can show your support by ‘liking’ them on Facebook. Tell them Herbal Roots zine sent you!

Want a chance to win this awesome package from Mountain Rose Herbs? Leave a comment, telling us if you’ve ever worked with Usnea before. For more chances to win, leave a separate comment every time you do one of the following:

-if you’re a kid, tell me how old you are and what your favorite Herbal Roots zine activities are

-Check out MRH’s website and tell me some of your favorite things

-Blog about it (leave reference link)

-Follow Mountain Rose Herbs and Herbal Roots zine on Pinterest and pin this giveaway with hashtags #mountainroseherbs #giveawaymonday #herbalrootszine (list your pinterest name in comments so we can find you)

-Become a follower of Mountain Rose Herbs and Herbal Roots zine on Twitter and tweet this giveaway with hashtags #mountainroseherbs #giveawaymonday #herbalrootszine (list your twitter ID in comments so we can find you)

-Follow Mountain Rose Herbs and  Herbal Roots zine on Instagram and share this giveaway with hashtag #giveawaymondayhrz  and tag @herbalrootszine (list your Instagram name in comments so we can find you)

-Sign up for the Herbal Roots zine monthly newsletter (and receive an issue for free!)

Sign ups end on and I’ll draw the winner on Monday, February 23, 2015. Thanks for entering and good luck!

Silly Valentine’s Day Cards Your Budding Herbalists Will Love

Posted in Uncategorized on February 12th, 2015 by kristine — 2 Comments

Herbal Valentines 2015 Herbal Valentines 2015

Driving my family nuts, I went on and on telling them herbal jokes I found online and made up myself. Lots of eye rolling ensued! And then I thought, Hey! Valentine’s Day is coming up, what better time to put some of those corny jokes and phrases to use? So, I created 9 silly herbal related Valentine’s Day cards. They go great with those herbal treats for the heart.

Herbal Valentines 2015

Aren’t they corny? Maybe so but it’s a great way to show your love of herbs and teach people about a few herbs in the process.

Herbal Valentines 2015

If nothing else, they make great conversation starters, right?

Herbal Valentines 2015

I think this one is my favorite:

Herbal Valentines 2015

Hmmmm, or maybe this one:

Herbal Valentines 2015

There are just too many to choose from!

Herbal Valentines 2015

Regardless, kids can have lots of fun at their Valentine’s Day celebration.

Herbal Valentines 2015

The complete download with directions for printing is free! Just click here to grab it:

herbal valentines cover

Happy Herbally Valentine’s Day!

[Herbal Rootslets]: No. 39 – Herbal Treats for the Heart

Posted in Uncategorized on February 11th, 2015 by kristine — Be the first to comment!

herbs for the heart

We are made for loving. If we don’t love, we will be like plants without water.

― Desmond Tutu

This week is all about love and the heart in celebration of Valentine’s day! It’s the perfect time to introduce heart herbs to your kids by making some herbal treats that are good for the heart.

First, let’s look at some herbs that are good for our hearts.  These herbs are all wonderful for the heart on all levels.

Cacao – We will be exploring this herb fully this upcoming December. Cacao, in its pure form, is nourishing and protective to the cardiovascular system.

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Cayenne – Stimulating to the circulation, Cayenne is also a vasodilator, helping to lower blood pressure and increasing cardiovascular health.

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Cinnamon – Another circulatory stimulant and vasodilator, Cinnamon not only works on cardiovascular health but also is helpful for lowering blood glucose levels

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Hawthorn – Hawthorn, a member of the Rose family, is one of my favorites for protecting both the physical and emotional heart.

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Rose – Rose protects the heart and is supportive of the heart during times of grief.

All of these herbs have one thing in common, they love our hearts! Make some heart friendly candy with your kids this week with this deliciously easy candy. I like to pour ours into heart shaped molds.

Heart Candy

3 oz cacao**, broken into pieces
1/2 cup cacao butter*
1/2 cup coconut oil*
1/2 – 3/4 cup raw honey
1/4 cup dried rose petals*, broken up
2 tablespoons hawthorn berries*, ground
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt*
1 teaspoon cinnamon*
1 pinch cayenne* powder

Place the cacao butter and coconut oil in a saucepan and gently heat until they melt.

Add the broken up pieces of cacao and stir until they are melted.

Add the honey and stir  until it is mixed together.

Combine the rest of the ingredients and stir to mix well. I like to mix the powdered ingredients together first then stir in the remaining ingredients.

Pour into your heart shaped molds. If you don’t have heart shaped molds, butter or line the bottom of a glass baking dish with waxed paper and pour into the dish.

Refrigerate until hardened then remove from the molds. 

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Having a Valentine get together? Print off our free silly herbal valentines (my Valentine’s Day gift to you and your children) and attach them to little cellophane packages of heart candy to give to your friends!

Do you incorporate herbs into your valentine treats? What other treats do you like to make for showing your love to your family?

*Need a source for vibrantly dried herbs? Mountain Rose Herbs is my favorite source.
**Herbalist and friend Darcey Blue recommends Heartblood Cacao for all your cacao needs.

Giveaway Monday – Wildcrafted Usnea from October Fields Farm

Posted in Uncategorized on February 9th, 2015 by kristine — 20 Comments

***THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO Yzzy O’Cronin, THIS WEEK’S WINNER!***usnea wh

This week we are thrilled to have a new sponsor! October Fields Farm has graciously donated some wildcrafted Usnea for this week’s giveaway.

Usnea wild harvested from northern deep woods Maine

* 1 oz weight, fresh

* Pesticide & Herbicide Free

* Widely referred to as old mans beard

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 About October Fields Farm:

October Fields Farm is appropriately named for the love of a month and all of it’s major milestones within. It is a month of new beginnings, achievements and growth. It is a time to close one chapter in preparation of another. It shoulders the glow of a warm summer sun in transition to the warmth of a fireside ember.

October Fields is the home to premium artisan hand poured soy candles, organic wild harvested herb and tea blends and healing salves and balms. With lines including: Remember ME, (ûrb)therəpē, and Just BE teas one is sure to find a Maine Made product that satisfies. We also offer seasonal organic vegetables including our famous organic Romanian Red Garlic. Pride is in the making at October Fields. From raw ingredient to finished good, there are no shortcuts to the time invested in creating each individual product. Materials are sourced from the farms organic soil, Maine’s deep woods or from locally, sustainably or ecologically based partners.

October Fields is a PETA certified company with a commitment, not only to sustaining our environment, but for nurturing all creatures great and small who inhabit it.

Contact us with product questions.  Like October Fields Farm on Facebook for exclusive deals, new product updates and daily inspiration!

Proprietors, Chris and Sloane welcome the opportunity to assist you!  About Sloane: A certified herbalist, gardener and artisan.  About Chris:  A guru of garlic, gardener and photographer.  Both are lovers of soil, trees, animals and the earth.

You can become a fan of October Fields Farm on Facebook if you would like to do so.

If you’d like a chance to win this wonderful wildcrafted Usnea package, leave a comment below. For more chances to win, you can leave a separate comment each time you advertise this giveaway by:

-Kids, you get 1 extra point for being a kid! Leave a comment telling me how old you are and what you like best about Herbal Roots zine.

-blogging about it

-tell us which herb you’re most excited to be learning about this year with Herbal Roots zine

-telling me your favorite item in their store

-share this giveaway on your Facebook page

-follow Herbal Roots and October Fields Farm on Pinterest and pin this giveaway with hashtags #octoberfieldsfarm #giveawaymonday #herbalrootszine (list your pinterest name in comments so we can find you)

-follow Herbal Roots on Instagram and pin this giveaway with hashtags #octoberfieldsfarm #giveawaymonday #herbalrootszine (list your Instagram name in comments so we can find you)

-follow Herbal Roots on Twitter and tweet this giveaway with hashtags #octoberfieldsfarm #giveawaymonday #herbalrootszine (list your pinterest name in comments so we can find you)

Sign ups end and I’ll announce the winner on Monday, February 16, 2015. Good luck!

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 38 – 5 Ways to Get Ready for Spring with Herbs

Posted in Uncategorized on February 4th, 2015 by kristine — Be the first to comment!

5 Ways to Get Ready for Spring with Herbs

Each new year is a surprise to us. We find that we had virtually forgotten the note of each bird, and when we hear it again, it is remembered like a dream, reminding us of a previous state of existence…The voice of nature is always encouraging.” 

– Henry David Thoreau

We are halfway to spring! And none too soon, the kids are tired of cold, damp weather, lack of sunshine and warm sunny days to spend long periods of time outside. I have to admit, I am too. Winter is not my favorite season though I do like the down time to get caught up on things, I’d much prefer to be sitting barefoot out in my garden.

The cycle of the year is always shifting and at this time of year, the most evident shift is in the amount of light we get each day. We still eat dinner in the dark, though now, there is a bit of orange on the western horizon as we do so, reminding us that warmth and sunlight are returning.

During the winter especially, we love to celebrate anything we can to take our minds off of winter! This time of the year, we celebrate the halfway mark to spring with a few herbal activities. Today’s newsletter is all about those activities.

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Start your herb seeds.
Last week’s newsletter talked about planning out your herb garden. If your seeds have arrived, go ahead and start them in an indoor planting bed. Kids love to plant seeds and an indoor planting bed can be made easily with a cardboard egg carton, some organic soil and a ziplock bag large enough for the carton to fit inside. Tear the top off the cartons (use them as trays for the bottom), fill each egg hole with moist organic soil, add the seeds and place them in the ziplock bag. You might want to write on the outside of the egg carton what seed is in each egg hole with a sharpie marker. The ziplock bag makes a nice mini greenhouse and helps to keep the soil moist longer. Set it in front of a sunny window and watch for the seeds to sprout.

Kids may enjoy keeping a journal about the daily activity, making notes on how long the seeds take to germinate, grow true leaves and get big enough to be planted into larger containers. The can also sketch the growth stages, this is great for them to do if they are choosing to work with 1 special herb for the year.

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Make herbal candles.
We always burn a candle at dinner time, even if it’s light outside. It’s a nice representation of meal time and if I forget to light it, the kids always let me know. It signals our time together as a family without any outside electronic distractions and as long as the candle is burning, no one is allowed to use their phones, iPads or computer.

Beeswax candles are wonderful. The natural smell of the wax is soothing and they are long lasting. Try your hand at making your own beeswax candles. You can either dip them by using melted wax and wicking or if you prefer a simpler version, order some beeswax sheets and hand roll them.

Once they have been made, decorate the outside of your candles with herbs. To do so, choose the herbs you’d like to use. If you have access to all the herbs that you’ll be learning about for the year, use different leaves or flowers for each candle to burn for each month or try doing  a collage with a few herbs. Brush a bit of melted wax onto the back of the leaf or flower and stick it on the candle then dip the entire candle into the melted wax to completely coat the herbs.

For seeds, once the candles have been dipped, they can be stuck directly into the candle. Try doing a border of Coriander or Black Peppercorns, or alternate them on the same candle.

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Update your nature table.
If you have a nature table, this is a great time to clean it off and get it ready for spring. We like to color coordinate our silk play cloths that we use for the table cloth with the season. This time of year, pale colors are nice or even pure white to represent the (hopefully) last of the snow. Our nature table is a collection of found treasures on our walks such as features, leaves, rocks, pods, seeds and so forth. Soon we’ll be finding remnants of egg shells as baby birds start hatching. Occasionally, an old nest that was blown out of a tree is added as well.

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But for now, we add things that represent halfway between winter and spring. Animals who come out of hibernation, our friend the groundhog, seeds and so forth. Forced bulbs can add a touch of color, bright red tulips or deep purple hyacinths are lovely. A plate of herb seeds or a drawing of our herbal ally can be added as we anticipate their return in our garden. Even a bouquet of dried herbs and herbal flowers can be inspiring. Some of you are lucky enough to have Chickweed and other early risers showing up. If so, add a bouquet of it to your nature table.

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Have a “Think Spring” mealtime celebration.
Dinner time is a special time for us. Everyone is home and gathered together, an occurrence that is more rare as the kids are getting older and involved with activities, work and so on. So when we can all gather together at dinner to celebrate, we love to do so!

Make some delicious herbal foods. If you’ve got that Chickweed or other early spring greens, add it to your salad along with some sprouts, many herb seeds are delicious sprouted. Red Clover, Alfalfa, Fenugreek, Fennel, Parsley, Milk Thistle, Burdock (one of my favorites!), Violets, Dandelion. You may be lucky enough to find some of your weeds sprouting in your garden already, just be sure to positively ID them before eating them. I often make sure to have lots of Burdock seeds in an area that I can harvest as they sprout. They are a delicious spring treat. Violets are also very prolific with their sprouts. If you would prefer to sprout your own, buy your seeds from the health food store. Use some herbal vinegars ind infused oils for your salad dressing.

Make some savory herbal muffins. Cornbread is a nice base and the yellow is a nice sunshiny touch.

Make some delicious Raspberry Lemonade or an herbal soda (see recipe below).

Herbal soda recipe

2 oz. herbal syrup of choice (Elderberry, Peppermint, Ginger, Basil, Lemon Balm, etc)

8 oz. seltzer water

This is the basic combination to make 1 cup of soda. Increase it to the amount you need for everyone.

Be sure to finish off your meal with a tasty herbal dessert! The Chipotle Flourless Cake is a great choice, perhaps topped with your favorite herbal ice cream. My current favorite is the Bay Laurel ice cream that was in last month’s issue.

Bay Laurel ice cream

2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup Demerara sugar
6 Bay leaves
6 egg yolks
Pinch sea salt

Combine the cream, milk, sugar and Bay leaves in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Let the mixture infuse for up to 8 hours in the refrigerator. You may choose to chill overnight in the refrigerator.

Warm the mixture back up to just below a boil.

Beat the egg yolks in a medium bowl with the sea salt until smooth. Gradually pour about one-third of the hot milk mixture into the eggs to temper them. Then stir the egg mixture into the cream mixture over medium-low heat, stirring the entire time.

Cook until the custard mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Do not let the mixture boil or you will get scrambled eggs.

Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Refrigerate, covered, 4 – 8 hours.

Freeze the mixture in an ice-cream maker, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Serve with Bay Laurel syrup.

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Start your spring cleaning!
This is my sneaky way of getting kids to help out with cleaning. We select old herbal vinegars that we’ve made over the past year that we have an excess of and use them diluted in water to make a natural cleaner that we use to start cleaning our windows (on nice springlike days), the kitchen and the bathroom. This is especially fun to do on a cold snowy day, using our cleaning tools and herbs to banish winter from our house and welcome the return of spring. We get into the nooks and crannies, cleaning out the wood stove dust and purging out old clothes that no longer fit us.

This is also a great time to go through any dried herbs you might have stashed away. If the herbs have lost their potency, compost them. We do a simple check: does the herb still look freshly dried or has it turned brown and dead looking? Does it still smell fragrant? Do they still taste as they should? While organizing your dried herb stash, you can make a list of what you’ve used for the past year and what you need to collect in the upcoming year. My kids love to crush and smell a bit of the dried herbs, especially the aromatic ones such as Peppermint. It can be an enjoyable and relaxing afternoon.

Don’t limit the spring cleaning to your house. If the weather permits, head outside and start clearing away the plant debris. This is a great time to review what was in the garden last year and challenge the kids to identify the plant skeletons. It’s also a great time to observe the trees before they begin to leaf out.

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How do you like to get ready for spring? Do your kids enjoy participating in clearing out the garden and doing the spring cleaning? How do you bring herbs and spring together in your house?