Birth of a Podcast

Many of you dear readers remember the five year run of my podcast At the Kitchen Table. You’ll notice no link as I am terrible about deleting projects that I have finished. Well today I offer you another podcast–

Chicken Coop Botanicals Podcast continues the conversation I have with you here. In this first episode I share a bit about where I live, what my background is (for those that find me through iTunes) and quite a bit about a new project for the Etsy shop–monthly herbal offerings. Between the podcast and a newsletter (signups will appear here shortly) I’ll be sharing each month about seasonal medicines, foods and how to be in touch with seasonal living. This month is about going “Deep” into winter. IMG_4756 double extracted wild mushroom Deep Immune Boost tincture

An album I’ve been listening to–The Sea, That Gambler by Gregory Alan Isakov

Reading poetry at bedtime to calm my active brain–American Primitive by Mary Oliver

I began knitting for spring outdoor work–Huxley by Jared Flood

The January Deep collection will be listed in the Chicken Coop Botanical shop (link will work as soon as listings are added)

Posted in Chicken Coop Botanicals, Herbal, Podcast Episode | 2 Comments

This Moment

I love reading all the year end reviews of blogs and email newsletters. And I do have to say that 2015 had some wonderful, even epic events, for me. But as I walk about in the glistening snow, listening to the wind rustling in the Cedars I am very much in the moment. I took this photo of my husband earlier today IMG_4748 and that shot pretty much sums up how I’m feeling right now. Calm, thoughtful, grateful for all that we have and all that this last year has brought us. Tonight we will work hard, but happily so, with our wonderful staff and customers to ring in this next year.

There were some terrible parts in 2015 that make my heart break. I can only be hopeful for the world moving forward. And I’m excited to see what’s in store for 2016. In 2015 the word of the year was “Build“. And boy was that appropriate for a year that included education, travel, beautiful and sad times with family and a wedding. I’ve learned so much from Herbal teachers and friends, we renewed friendships and made more this year and of course my favorite moment was adding a daughter-in-law to our family. Seeing those two kids (no matter the age they will always be kids to me) stand in the exact spot that my husband and I stood 26 years before to exchange vows was so beautiful! for 2016 I see the word will be “Flow” as in flowing through whatever might appear next. I’ll be adding new lines to the Etsy shop, beginning a new podcast, we’ll be adding brunch to Gino’s beginning next weekend, in February the restaurant turns 20!, by summer the Chicken Coop Botanicals studio will be finished. That is a lot. And I know from experience that each of these activities and events will take on a life of its own. Who knows what else the year will bring. It’s so much more fun to be in the moment and let things flow.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year! Enjoy this evening, stay in the moment with gratitude and thoughtfulness for that is what this world and each of our communities need as we flow through to this next year.


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Season Shift

Last night (which began at 4:36p) my husband and I quietly celebrated Solstice. We toasted, we ate beautiful food IMG_4729 including using the last of the porcini broth with our goose broth for a lovely mushroom risotto IMG_4730 I love having a wide variety of broths on hand at all times. There were tiny little birds involved as well:)

We lit candles IMG_4716 We paused

The whole day had a different feel to it. As I walked around to check on animals, both in the morning and evening, I felt I was walking the wheel of the year. There is never a stop to begin anew. After a pause the season, life, time continues to creep forward.

We have now entered the deep season of Winter and while I feel comfort in the quiet chill of this season I also face forward ready to welcome the coming light. Each day now will be a little lighter…a bit more daylight to lead us towards the next season. Most don’t live the ideals of an Agrarian system any longer, but I find that living within the seasonal flow takes you out of the mayhem and stress that can define this time of year. I awoke early this morning realizing I have been doing a lot of crafting, but not a lot of wrapping or deciding who gets what. And then I paused. I laid in bed and listened to the wind, to the roosters, to the trees. When I got up I had lost the stress of what needs to be done this morning before I leave for work. I read lovely messages I’d received over night through email, Instagram, my Etsy store. I began my list of matching people to gifts. Again I paused, looked outside and breathed deeply with a smile at my lips.

And that is what I want to share with you…pause, look around, breathe, smile. We each celebrate a reason for the season. Whether yours is religious, family or community based, seasonally based… stop and give gratitude for where you are, what beauty you have in your life. Smile:)

Solstice Blessings to you and yours.

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Winter is Coming

This morning I am looking up to the hills behind my house and I see snow flocked trees even though the rain drips down outside my window. IMG_4627The sound of the rain, the crackling fire and the occasional rooster’s crow makes me smile. I’ve been on the go since May 4 with travel, wonderful summer events, house sitting and taking back my roll in the Gino’s Restaurant kitchen. While I am still working in town a few days a week I am so happy to be settled in for the winter on our little piece of Mt Hood. My husband and I spent a dry moment a couple days ago stocking the wood room for the stove at the front of the house and the back room wood bin. It’s a task that settles me into the season. It will be repeated many more times in the coming months and singles to me the other tasks that I’m also ready for–the constant stock pot that our soups and stews flow from, the readying of bowls and buckets for frozen rabbit bottles and chicken drinks. I love this time of year.

I also realize that I am especially appreciating it because of that time away.  To truly love your home you need to leave it sometimes. I have a long list of winter projects. My Etsy storeIMG_4707 has reopened and I have many more treats to list there as time allows, the podcast will start anew this winter (I needed to be settled in my schedule, but I know there are many who have been waiting), I am still taking various herbal classes, I have writings that are calling me, I am beginning to plan classes for late spring as the Chicken Coop should be complete by that time (and it is so beautiful!). I have a sweater on the needles for me and a baby coming at the restaurant that will need one too:) None of these activities has me stressed or nervous or agitated. I am just calmly listing them for myself and to let you know what I’m up to.

Right now I am looking forward to some volunteer work on the mountain and donations to hand out in town, craft time with my family and our annual Champagne lunch with friends on Solstice this year. Christmas will be hosted by our son and his wife for the first time. I’m thrilled to help them start a new tradition in their young marriage. I’m spending less and less time listening to the news. Although I do make sure I know what is happening in the big picture. The killing of the soul is in the details repeated over and over.

Yesterday was the last new moon (a time to set new intention) of the year. It brought a calm over me that I hope to carry as the energy now builds towards a full moon on Christmas (a time of fulfillment). This year I have felt in line with the seasons even as I was going and going. I look forward to 2016 with no major trips, but many small ones in our sweet ole Lil. Continuing last year’s tradition of choosing a word for the new year (Build was so perfect this year) I am thinking Flow will take me through the turning of the wheel that is the changing of seasons and the flow of life ever moving.

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Honoring the Death of the Land

I haven’t written much here of late. I am taking three different classes that I have doing a lot of writing for and each has the attention of my pen right now. However, I have been drawn to create a few themed self-care boxes/kits for my little Etsy shop along the lines of the Eight large and small celebrations of the Pagan calendar and they also are drawing my written attention. The current one for sale (shop closes tonight after midnight) has dealt with Mugwort. A traditional dream herb used to celebrate Samhain/Haloween/Dia de las Muertos. I wanted to share a bit of what I included in the newsletter and more thoughts on this blustery Samhain.

Historically, Mugwort was considered the ‘universal herb for protection and prophecy’ throughout the ancient world. Dedicated to Artemis and Diana, Mugwort was used for pain and healing, psychic powers and lucid dreaming. I find this so interesting as these are also goddesses associated with the moon and Mugwort is a moon plant. When you look to each culture you often find that they correspond and have synchronicity. In ancient China and Japan, Mugwort was hung in open doorways to exorcise the spirits of disease. The ancient Europeans did the same to ward off evil spirits. Listening to an Italian American herbalist speak this last August, she visits her ancestral village each year and finds that these traditions still live on-they have just incorporated them into the catholic tradition.

This was a great ally to the Roman soldiers who placed Mugwort inside their sandals for endurance on long marches. One Roman general recorded that his men marched 10 miles further, as well as faster, when on Mugwort; it is known as the “traveler’s herb”. To me those parts of the essential oil that create dreaminess also relax and sooth the nervous system, as well as being a stimulant. I included a Mugwort infused oil in the box which I think I should start using as a foot rub when I know I’ll be working long hours in my kitchen. IMG_4569

Magically, Mugwort tea was drank before divination rituals and also burnt as a ‘transporting’ incense. I personally like to use a Flower Essence as I am wanting to connect with the plant herself.  Native Americans also burned Mugwort as a ‘smudge’ to purify the spiritual and physical environment. This may seem that I am throwing out information that is all over the place. I want to convey how this (as well as so many other useful plants) have been used over the centuries is many different ways. Ways we often forget in this modern society.

One of the classes I’m taking is a Shamanic Apprenticeship with Darcey Blue. Mugwort is the plant I’ve chosen for long term study as a plant ally. I now see Mugwort when I journey  to the crossroads as the crone wearing a beautiful cloak dyed with the deep green of the plant with overlaying cloth serrated leaves. Oh yes, she is also a dye plant💖 💖 And someday I am going to have to figure out how to create that cloak. I talked just a little bit about the healing aspects of this member of the Artemisia family. I encourage you to sit with the plant or a product made from the plant and see what she has to teach you.

With this information in mind I went on creating products that celebrate the beauty and long usage of this “Cronewort”, a name I learned from Susan Weed many years ago for those helpful qualities this Artemisia offers women in the Menopausal years. Samhain is  the time of year when we honor the coming death of the land on the wheel of the year. Not that life after Menopause is that time in a woman’s life. Far from it! However, the Crone (as archetype) is our escort through this thinning of the veil when we can visit our ancestors for a short time, then move onto a time of quietude through the winter months before the Maiden again springs forth. On this day I can truly feel this dying. As I said it is rainy and blustery outside. We were lucky (it feels like that now that I know the rain has returned) to enjoy a long dry October where we could appreciate the beauty of the leaves turning color. Now the winds have returned and quickly the summer plants are melting into the ground, the beautiful yellow, orange and red leaves are drifting (or flying) by the windows and I can just feel at a visceral level that the season is changing–death is coming to the land. And I’m ready. I felt stretched thin by the long, dry summer (as I said in the last post). This seems right. It is not a scary time of year, It’s the natural creaking of the wheel as it turns yet again on its natural path to the next season. So on this dark eve I’ll be celebrating with friends for a while, but coming home to sit quietly with some Mugwort based incense, mug of tea and a drop on essence on my tongue as I remember and dream of my grandmothers and those that came before me. This is a time for quiet and memories and thoughts of gratitude for what this last season has taught us before we look to the next. A moment suspended…

At the beginning of this missive I mentioned that the shop will close again as the clock ticks past midnight. Actually I’ll be sound asleep so it will probably be tomorrow morning. We have been staying in town off and on quite a bit this fall and head back in again. I’ve already made the beginnings of the next box-The sweet scents of Solstice. They will be steeping away until the shop reopens the second week of December. I won’t be in town that long, but I have lots of makings for specific people right now as well. I hope to be talking to you all before we get that far along, but you can find me daily on IG.  IMG_3740 Just a few things that are working here in the Chicken Coop-Rose petals and Cranberries soaked in red wine are a basis for a Solstice incense. I’ve had an Antioxidant berry elyxir steeping for a couple of months. There will be Rose soap, a lovely bit of light and a beautiful lotion to take you through the holiday season.

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Autumn is upon us

I have so looked forward to the season change. I woke yesterday thinking “this is it!” Mabon, the second harvest festival has arrived. And of course this means Autumn has arrived–the Autumnal Equinox. I went outside and reveled in the thought that the seeds that to me represent this second harvest are so needed if we are to celebrate the Spring Equinox six months from now. I felt the urgency of harvesting all that is left in both vegetable and herb gardens. Walking about the last two days plucking weeds (Self Heal florets, the last Red Clover blossoms and Plantain leaves. Realizing that I need to begin digging roots.

I spent a good part of yesterday gathering the tools needed to bottle up, label and photograph my special Mabon box for the Etsy store (that has long been neglected). I kept thinking that I really need to sit down and write a blog post and yet when I thought about the idea of that I couldn’t think exactly what I would say. So I gathered a basketful of Spicy Elderberry Tonic, some of the last of the cucumbers and peppers, the new duck eggs and my tomatillo sauce in a  basket and went to visit the neighbors. They who had so sweetly thought of us and left a book in our mail box that they thought we might like.

Again I felt I wanted to get back to writing, but nothing would come. So I did the research I needed to do for a client that had asked me to put together some herbal treats for his well being.

And here I am…no script…nothing more than putting my fingers to the keys and happily what I am feeling about the season shift comes through. I was beginning to feel stretched by this extremely long and hot summer. It scares me that this may be the new normal. But we are human; we adapt. I look forward to spending more time inside, to writing more, to sharing the formulas, potions and lessons I learned this summer.

There will be more special boxes of seasonal treats (8 seasons the way I count). There will be a podcast beginning quite soon. I have started studies in Shamanism, Spagyrics and I have been learning from new people about Herbalism for quite a while now. Excited to write again. Just needed the shift.

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This Mad Mad World

IMG_2709Sometimes I think I go a little bit mad. And of course I then worry that I’ve scared people away with my mad or wild ramblings. But really, in this crazy world we live in, if you don’t go mad sometimes are you really living an authentic life?

There is a lot going on in the world right now that is sad, harrowing, upsetting, maddening and completely out of control. We have to pay attention. Don’t put your head in the sand. I’m not saying you can save every situation with a $10 donation, but choose one and make a pledge to care enough to learn about it. Chose your way to get information and listen, pay attention! And yes, you will go a little mad sometimes. That’s okay! Think about all the people in the world that are living like that every damn day! Decide where to put your energy, but keep open to what is happening in other places too.

You may feel that if you do pay attention it will be too much to handle. You’ll get bummed out, depressed, unable to function in your first world life. That is where we have to bring in balance. We are lucky if we aren’t affected by everyday violence in this country (or another) whether it be created by man or nature or nature because of the actions of man. How will you create a balance? For me it is being out side with my hands in the dirt, smelling a fragrant flower and listening to what it has to tell me, spending time with the people that I love and those who truly inspire me. Sometimes I still go completely mad, but that’s how we grow and evolve and how we know we are truly alive!

I’m not asking you to spend money or make a statement or attend a rally…unless you are called to do these things. But I am calling on you to be a witness to what is going on in the world, to live mindfully, to act when you feel called to do it. When you have the information you will be surprised by how it will affect you. I realized while in the shower this morning that I can no longer support large scale almond growers. I wouldn’t have made that decision yesterday. Today I finally heard the last news story I could take about the selfishness surrounding the water situation where this crop is concerned (and it wasn’t even in California). For now it’s ruined my love of almonds–until I find a small farmer that is treating this crop the way you have to during a drought. I don’t think I can personally affect what is happening in Baltimore, but I am paying attention to the situation and I’m ready to have a conversation with the nay sayers (amazing that there are two sides in that conflict). I am devastated by the ruination of our rain forests and for quite a while I didn’t think I could have an effect, but by paying attention and learning more I personally choose not to use any palm oils in my herbal products, my cooking and I make sure my purchasing of ready made foods reflects that decision. For Nepal, I choose Oxfam to donate money. It isn’t just that you donate–check out the charities, find one that puts money and skills with the people not the directors.

What about you? Where do you take a stand? What is your balance? I don’t expect you to answer these questions here, but I hope you will reflect on this topic and look at your life in comparison to so many people that have less than you do. How can you make a difference in the world?

The photo at the beginning of this post is Hawthorn. A tree that brings calm from the flowers, leaves and berries. I make a tincture, tea and elixir with these and have a few young trees coming this spring for our hedgerow. Another part of the balance is self care through healing physically and mentally, movement (however that appears in your activities), eating good food. All of this, every bit, goes back to living an intentional life. My brain gets airy and I get distracted, but I do live intentionally. Do you?

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