This week I was invited to give a presentation at the Tamanend Herb Club in Southampton PA. We made Echinacea Tinctures and Immune Boosting Pastilles (aka cookie dough balls). It was SO MUCH FUN! The club was super engaged, asked lots of great questions, really had fun getting their hands dirty (so to speak) making the tincture and sampling the pastilles. A great time was had by all. If you live up that way you should check them out!
Jenna of Cold Antler Farm in Jackson NY (where I visited for Antlerstock last month!) is offering 2 specials for the holiday season, and I had such an awesome time at her farm that I wanted to share these neat ideas with all of you.
First is her "Visit the Farm, Leave a Fiddler" gift: you get a farm visit and tour, 4 hours of lessons, and a FIDDLE! You (or the giftee) pick the day in 2016. This is a great experience for anyone who's been playing with the idea of taking up music (pun intended!)
Any herbalists or other small businesses out there thinking about designing a logo? The second gift idea utilizes Jenna's skills as a graphic designer PLUS includes a donation to Heifer International and two 2016 workshop passes. From her website:
"So in summary: You get a printable voucher for a logo to be designed in 2016 ($300-500 regular price), a workshop pass for you and your gift ($200 value), and part of the money goes towards a family in need that can start raising livestock where farm animals are needed most."
Start your holiday shopping now and tick the most difficult person off your list- get them the gift of a unique experience from a talented woman making the world a better place!
- you've thought about starting to mediate, but didn't know how
- it's free!
- you have 15 minutes to give yourself a break
- Deepak Chopra has a soothing voice
- did I mention it's free?
I have done several of the free Chopra Center meditation experiences since they began offering them about 3 years ago. In between, I meditate with one that I purchased, for real cash money, because I found it so powerful and helpful.
Sign up RIGHT NOW, it's the last day to join!
Here is a picture of my meditation spot:
That's right folks, I meditate in bed! How much easier can it get? And there's no excuse not to! I decided that if I can't wake up 15 minutes early to start my day off on a positive and peaceful note, I needed to make some huge changes at bedtime. So I add an extra pillow to prop me up, snuggle under my quilt and click the Chopra Center app on my phone. Easy peasy, and so very worth every minute.
Chopra Center Meditation
It's a homesteading festival, it's a weekend in the woods, it has nosy turkeys and a border collie pup and fresh apple cider donuts- what's not to love about Antlerstock??
This was my second trip to Cold Antler Farm in Jackson NY. Held over Columbus Day weekend, Antlerstock makes no promises for the weather, but this year was gorgeous- warm and sunny and at near-peak for fall color.
Farmer Jenna gathers friends that have unique skills and holds this 2 day event to offer demonstrations and talks about topics like felling trees, using draft horses for farm work, keeping small livestock, making soap, spinning wool (sheep-to-knitting needle!), preparing for storms, and generally relying on yourself.
It's a fun weekend, with people from all over that have varying levels of interest and ability to homestead where they are. This year there was a couple from NYC and another from Long Island, someone from Ontario, a few of us from PA, some more local to Jenna- in all, about a dozen hardy souls ready to experience small farm life for a few days.
Saturday night we had a bonfire and read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow out loud, mere miles from where it's set. Jack o'lanterns surrounded us, the wind blew, and it was delightfully creepy!
All week, after I returned, I was telling my pilates clients stories- about how Brett cut down a cherry tree and I took my turn learning to split it into firewood, about how BIG Steele the Percheron draft horse is, about the 2 turkeys who followed us around all weekend, puffed up and huffing to attract attention, about the goat eating my ponytail holder off my pigtail... But really, I kept saying, the best part was being around so many people who are seriously living their dreams. It's not always rainbows and cupcakes by any means, but everyone I met was so inspiring.
As I settle in for winter, I'm really glad I took this weekend off to go do something that makes others raise their eyebrows at me but that fills me with ideas. I have lots to think about and work towards as I snuggle into my little apartment. My pilates and herbal work, this wellness work is in my soul, and I just got a weekend full of reminder to make sure I'm feeding my dreams as well as my soul. There's two fluffy blankets waiting for daydreaming on my couch!
October is fast becoming one of my favorite months, what with all the fun stuff that's happening!
The first weekend of the month brings the Mid Atlantic Women's Herbal Conference in Kempton PA. Kempton is a a map dot outside of Allentown, and just happens to be next-door to the village that houses HQ for the children's theater I worked with during high school and college. Coincidence? I dunno, there are a LOT of map dots in PA and it just so happens...
This was my third year attending the MAWHC, and maybe their fourth or fifth year in existence. It's a small conference, held in fields and under tents. The teachers are fantastic, women who love being close to their students and close to the land. So far I've met and learned from Rosemary Gladstar, Deb Soule, Rosita Arvigo, Kate Gilday, and many others.
This year the weather was wild, in the 40's (Fahrenheit) and windy. The previous Monday it was 80 degrees! As the week passed I continually refined my clothing choices until I was in full winter gear, including down coat and 3 pairs of thermal pants. Hey, it kept me warm. :)
I heard lots of interesting bits from the keynote speakers and the workshop teachers. Some were thought-provoking and profound, others were articulations of unconscious choices I'd been making myself for years. This was the first year the conference organizers tried recording the teachers, and I hope they worked because there are many moments I would like to revisit and re-hear, and re-think about.
The company was great, too. Three of us carpooled early in the morning, my friends Kristen and Linda. During the day I got to see old friends and chat with many new faces. There was a lot of friendly chatter- what classes did you take? Where did you travel from? Which soup did you have? (Chicken and cashew chili with pineapple. Twice.) Yes it was cold and windy and damp and yucky, and I didn't hear anyone lamenting it. Although I have to say, the best part was when Kate Gilday played her flute for us under the Black Walnut trees and the wind didn't blow on us for the next hour. That was a special kind of magic.
Thank you, Charis, for again hosting such a great conference. See you next year!
What a fun event! This was the third such Farm and Food Fest, and the first I attended.
First, the food! Sample abounded, of cheese slivers and granola cups and kombucha splashes. But there were bigger bites, of corn muffins and popsicles and cuban sandwich wedges too. There were free apples, hummus, red beets, chocolate, and a very cool pastrami egg- hard to describe, but delicious.
There were lots of other vendors too- farms and CSA's, educational and environmental groups, home and body products, and more. Here's a list of the vendors: http://phillyfarmfest.org/2015-exhibitors/
I attended a workshop held by the Philadelphia Bee Company. Don, the owner, is an outgoing guy who loves to talk bees, and laid out the basic info for setting up bees at home. Now I know what my next project will bee! (See what I did there??)
There were actually lots of workshops, divided into "Urban Homesteading Takeover" (Including the Intro to Beekeeping one I saw), "Kids Takeover", "Local Cookbook Takeover", and "Butcher's Block Takeover". One of the local cookbook authors was Marissa McClellan, of Food In Jars. Of course, I walked by a table and there she was, signing books! If I had known, I would have brought my copy and asked her to sign it right next to the note my mom wrote when she gave it too me! I said that to here and she laughed, "I get around! I'm sure you'll see me again." I hope she's right!
The whole event was sponsored by Whole Foods, so I got a new reusable grocery bag to hold all my goodies. At the end of the day I came home with a jar of Thai Peanut Sauce, a strawberry plant, and a new bag from Peg and Awl. (Honestly, I shouldn't have gone back to the vendors after visiting the Local Libations Lounge!)
I also got to meet Lauren of Arete Herbs in West Chester- so nice, and so excited about her herb business! And of course, a visit to Herbiary across the way in Reading Terminal Market was in order. I love that place.
So, check it out next year! If it's anything like this year's event, I'll be back for sure and might see ya there.
I don't know about you, but my 'welcome back' week after the holidays has been a whirlwind of busy. Suddenly, here we are on Friday afternoon! Before another hour slips by, I wanted to make sure to announce my upcoming classes. Join me to learn about detoxing, wild spring greens, and spring tonics! I was invited to teach at the Morris Arboretum next month, so I'm looking forward to that event as well.
Saturday January 31- Your Winter Cleanse
Monday February 10-Friday February 14- Soup Recipe Exchange Week * Details Coming Soon!
Sunday February 22- Make Your Own Tonic- Spring Cleaning for the Body
Saturday March 31- STRESS- What is it Good For? * Details coming soon!
Saturday April 18- Your Spring Cleanse
Saturday April 25- Early Spring Greens Wild Weed Walk * New Date!
All dates and times are subject to change until 1 week before each event. Especially the weed walk, we never know how the Spring weather will be!
RSVP on the Upcoming Events page
Here is a little montage of how my holiday break looked:
What a month.
The first weekend was the Mid Atlantic Women's Herbal Conference. All day under tents and clearing skies in the rolling hills of Kempton PA.
The second was one of the final days with Linda Shanahan in this year's Herbs Through the Seasons class. Another day outside, sunny and breezy at the Barefoot Gardens farm.
Also in there was a very warm pre-dawn jaunt around town to watch the full moon eclipse. There's a post about that, that somehow won't copy into this here blog writer. Hopefully more on that soon, but suffice to say now that it was an opening experience.
And this weekend- Antlerstock! TWO days of outside fun. I cut down a tree (OK, not all by myself, but still. A tree!) I threw an axe and hit the target (sort of), learned how to make soap, what I had done wrong with my sourdough bread way back when I had a starter, and beekeeping and goat keeping and archery basics. We talked emergency and storm preparedness, harnessing a draft horse, pig and rabbit raising, and first aid salve making.
And those are only the goings-on I got to see. I missed out on processing wool from sheep to spindle, chainsaw basics, food preservation and frugal eating, and who knows what else. It was too much for one person, and not nearly enough! We had rain and sun and wind and mud and a Merlin cake (not the Merlin you're thinking, if you don't know Jenna!) We had great teachers and interested students and good, warm, kind people eager to share their own experiences. I came home with books and soap and new friends and new ideas.
This month has fed my soul. If you haven't had a multitude of soul-nourishment experiences heaped at you recently, I highly recommend it. In fact, I insist on it. What a great time.
This was my second year at the MAWHC, and it was again fantastic. Last year I went by myself and didn't know a soul, and I had a wonderful time taking in my first-ever herbal conference experience. This year I carpooled with 2 friends (should have been 3, we missed you Herban Momma!!), my teacher Maia Toll was there, I ran into friends and met new ones, and had just as wonderful a time.
Red Earth Farm hosts the conference on their land in Kempton PA (and offers a rather wonderful CSA too, I might add), and this year Charis and the other helpers did a great job with the wet weather we had up until registration time Saturday morning. The chairs had clearly been put up under the tents before it started raining, and there was almost no mud to speak of. Thanks everyone!
Our keynote speaker was Rosemary Gladstar. Have you met her or worked with her yet? I hadn't, I had only used her book Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health (affiliate link.) I've heard her described as "The Grandmother of Modern Herbalism" several times, and truly, a grandmother is what I expected. Boy was I surprised!
Rosemary is a fireball. She is full of stories, some ribald, some serious, all honest and energetic and inspiring. And her laugh! Right into the microphone, so full of joy and good humor, even when she was discussing the Fire Cider controversy. She gave us a slide show of Herbal Elders in the morning, and told so many stories about these people, demonstrating that our heritage and traditions and herbal lineage are so very important to our craft and our future. In the evening, she told us a little of her life story, how she came to her current project the United Plant Savers, and touched on the Health Freedom Movement. She invited open discussion about the issues surrounding giving herbalism a 'legal' status, she challenged us to take back the name Herbalist and not be afraid of using it, and she asked us to find out what we love and to do that. Rosemary understands that 'being an herbalist' is a narrow and limiting definition of what we do in this field, and there's room for everyone and their various skills and passions.
Rosemary also brought her mom with her to the conference. This tiny lady is 90 years old, and every time I saw her she was wreathed in smiles. It was such a joy to know that she was in our presence, and that our presence contributed to her happiness.
And Maia was there! Why don't I take pictures at these things?! I miss her hugs so much, they're not hands-on-arms, lean-in, gently-bump-a-shoulder things. A big, wrap around, squeeze is what she gives, and what I give back! Maia taught 2 workshops. She promptly threw us out of the first one- no, not really! She did strongly suggest that we already know what she's going to say, and that we should go meet other teachers too. I guess she's right... but I miss her!
So for my first workshop I started at a tent with a neat contraption that hooks to a plant and plays tones as the plant gives off energy or resonances. It was very pretty and I stayed a while to listen, then I moved over to a tent offering a talk on the Divine Feminine. Both were good times for introspection, and I enjoyed that.
The next workshop break offered a class on fermenting vegetables- sauerkraut and the like- and it was fabulous! Suzanna had us all involved, the (large) class made a huge batch of kimchi as she taught us the process, and she handled the crowd and the information very well. I mean, the woman gave complete strangers knives and no one had an accident! She was an impressive presenter, something to aspire to for sure.
During the last break I started out in the Dandelion class, and learned something new- the botanical name for Dandelion, Taraxacum officinalis, translates into The Official Remedy for All Disorders. That night someone jokingly asked me, "So what would you recommend for everything that ails me?" and I had my answer ready- Dandelion! Part way through I made my way over to Maia's second class and listened in on her talking about the endings that happen at this time of year, and some of her rituals around Autumn and Winter. She ended by inviting us to write down something we'd like to release and let go of, and we gathered around the fire pit to burn them. Some people were emotional and it was so nice to be part of that healing moment.
There were also great vendors on hand. I'm in Linda Shanahan's Herbs Through the Seasons class (HIGHLY recommended!) and last month she brought in herbalist Sharon Moncrief for a very interesting talk about women's herbs. Both Linda and Sharon came as vendors, and their stuff looked great. I got a pretty ring from Sharon, who is now making jewelry in addition to the beautiful tinctures and oils and creams she has developed, and I went home with an amazing piece of baby Ginger with the greens still on it and the most fragrant Lemon Verbena ever from Linda's farm. I hope you both sold out of everything you brought!
So, go the the MAWHC next year! You will enjoy it. Unless you are a man, which is my only beef with the conference. The two men in Maia's class this past year would both have provided great things to the day, and they would have benefited just as much in return. I'm sure they're not the ONLY guys out there who would have fit in with us, either. I understand the power a group of women can have on each other, but I believe the conference I attended both last year and this was missing out on what these men offer. I wish I had convinced my classmates to come in drag!
Since I didn't take any pictures myself, here are some from the MAWHC's Facebook page.
What a gorgeous September day! The sun was out, there was a good breeze, Eliza’s farm is beautiful- we couldn’t have asked for more.
10 of us (not bad for my first event here!) made our way down to the creek to meet Nettles. She gave me a little sting- a ‘love bite’, I’m choosing to call it. (I backed into a patch once and got a sting through denim on my rump which lasted for more than a day. This one was gone half way through the walk.)
We came back up the drive finding Black Walnut, Smart Weed aka Lady’s Thumbprint, Wineberry, Blackberry, Buckeye, Narrow Leaf Plantain, and Red Clover. At the barn gate we talked about Broadleaf Plantain, Chicory, Burdock and Goldenrod. It’s always fun to share that Goldenrod is actually a hayfever reliever, and that it’s the simultaneously flowering Ragweed that causes our misery.
In Eliza’s gardens we met Chickweed, Mugwort, Wood Sorrel, Ground Ivy, Elderberry, Witch Hazel, Lamb’s Quarters, Comfrey, Echinacea, St John’s Wort, mints, and did a quick trip around the herb bed too.
Dandelion was our last official stop, then we made our way back to the gate where I had left my bag. “Bring a friend and get a bottle of Elderberry Syrup!” I had promised, and 3 bottles went to happy homes.
Eliza lent me a fabulous book as I was preparing for our walk- Weeds of the Northeast. It lets you know what’s toxic, and it has all of those “Wonder what that is?” weeds that don’t really have any culinary or medicinal uses and so never get ID’d by others. She said it is the result of a thesis from Cornell University.
I also used two Peterson’s Guides- Edible Wild Plants (Eastern/Central North America) and Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs, as well as a GREAT new book I picked up at the Philadelphia Flower Show this year, Foraging and Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi. Turns out it’s the text for the Herbs Through the Seasons class I’m taking at Barefoot Botanicals with Linda Shanahan in Doylestown through November, too. That’s where the Elderberry syrup recipe is from, by the way. (These are affiliate links.)
Thanks to everyone who came out for the walk. I hope you had as much fun as I did! And a special thanks to walker Shelly, who shared some of her photos:
An herbalist, reformer pilates trainer, beginner suburban homesteader, voracious reader, simple knitter- it's all ways to make my world more healthy and happy.
My Online Favorites
Lesley and Michael Tierra
Cold Antler Farm
Henriette's Herbal Homepage
Herb Mentor Radio
Methow Valley Herbs
The Family Herbalist
The Thread (Goldthread Apothecary)