• closeup of bright yellow st. johnswort flowers
    Herbs & Ingredients,  Recipes & How-To's

    Surviving the change of season

    A belated Happy Autumn to you! And as if I wasn’t already feeling low enough about Summer’s end, the season change has brought me a throat virus. My throat is like my early-warning signal . When I start getting run down, a sore throat is always the first symptom. If I pay attention to it (start going to bed on time, make sure I’m eating well, load up on herbal tea with elderberry syrup, take a hot soak in the tub), it usually resolves without becoming anything more than a sore throat. But if I don’t pay attention and let it go for a couple days… Well, it worsens and…

  • Natural Skin Care,  The Latest News

    Everything balm for everybody

    Been working on new labels and new photos for our farm-made skin balms. Hope I’m heading in the right direction with “everything” balms. Just seems like if you have to buy one product for your face, another for your cuticles, another for your feet (etc,), the only one getting real benefit is the manufacturer. I like keeping things simple, and would rather have one product I can use for everything. So I’ve designed these balms to soothe and protect *all* your skin—face, hands, cuticles, elbows, knees, legs, and feet. And coming soon is a new blend that will be aroma-free, containing no essential oils. Then we’ll have an everything balm for…

  • Natural Skin Care,  The Latest News

    Summer Goodness Skin Balm

    Announcing a new skin balm, made with all the goodness of Summer! I’m calling it “Flower & Root”. Roses and Carrots, plus Calendula, Elderflower, and Marshmallow in a blend of Watermelon seed oil, Virgin Coconut oil, and Mango butter. Scented with Geranium, Frankincense, Lime, Lavender, and Amyris essential oils. Been working on this blend for awhile, and it came out really nice. I’m excited!   Deeply moisturizes dry skin. Gentle, creamy, and soothing. Also useful for everyday nicks and scrapes. { On sale now in our online store }

  • calendula oil
    Herbs & Ingredients,  Recipes & How-To's

    Herbal Alchemy: Calendula oil

    al·che·my: a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination. Herbal oils are a good home remedy to keep on hand, useful for everything from skin moisturizing to first aid. Infusing herbs into oil is actually a simple process, but every time I decant the resulting colorful (and sometimes fragrant) oil it seems like magic had a hand in its creation. If you’ve never tried making your own herbal oil, Mountain Rose Herbs has a helpful blog post with directions for both the solar infused and quick heat infused methods. If you’d like to try a different technique that’s closer to how true medicine makers do herbal oils, herbalist Kami McBride…

  • calendula petals in oil
    Herbs & Ingredients,  Natural Skin Care

    Calendula brings the Glow

    Cold, grey, and rainy today. I’m thinking about cozying up with one of my favorite plants, a golden beauty long associated with fire and the Sun, Calendula. Calendula officinalis is her botanical name, but she has been known by many different names including Pot Marigold, Merrybud, Marygold, Summer’s Bride, and Ruddles. Calendula’s petals, leaves, and stem contain carotenoids which are vitamin A precursors with antioxidant activity. Used topically, it’s excellent for all skin types, and especially good for sensitive, dehydrated / dry, chapped / inflamed skin, wounds and burns. I use Calendula in one of my skin care blends for its ability to improve skin’s condition by refining pores and encouraging cell renewal.…

  • Herbs & Ingredients,  In the Herb Garden

    Calendula is not (only) for you

    It’s starting to make me uncomfortable, seeing herbs described and defined by what they can do for us. And if we think they’re especially useful, they’d better watch out- we’ll hunt and gather them to extinction. Plants were not put here for people, as the old story tells. They were living on this planet for eons before we came along and were keeping pretty busy without us. Calendula flowers, for example, provide nectar and pollen for bees and butterflies. Calendula roots form active partnerships with fungi, benefitting the soil. The fact that Calendula has so many health and beauty benefits for people doesn’t mean that we have more rights to it than any…

  • In the Herb Garden,  The Latest News

    Ready for Winter Downtime

    It is sad when garden time comes to a close. But we’re a bit tired after a long season and are looking forward to a little downtime. The Hadley garden has already had frost. All that’s left are some greens growing under fleece, as well as a few Scotch Bonnet and Habanero plants still ripening their peppers under plastic cover. It’s getting cold now, though. We’re almost done. The Northampton garden hasn’t had a frost yet. There are Calendula, Alyssum, and amazingly Nasturtium and Holy Basil flowering. Thank goodness! I’m still seeing honey bees. That’s Calendula pictured above. Her orange-yellow color is so bright, it shines in my November garden like…

  • Natural Skin Care,  The Latest News

    Soaping on Schedule

    Boy, for one crazy minute there while pondering how to get done everything that needs doing this year, I decided to give up on soap-making. That was scary! I am so enamored with hand-milling olive oil soap, it made me kindof bummed that it was gone. Soap takes about a month to fully dry and cure though, so I have to plan out my soaping schedule in advance to make sure it gets fit in. And I can only make so much, so I have to limit my choice of blends. the definites for this year are: Rose, with Rose petals, Marshmallow root, and Geranium essential oil Lavender, with Lavender flowers,…

  • In the Herb Garden

    Herbs for You, Me, and the Bees

    Want to know the downside of this beautiful basketful of herbs? It was stolen! Yes, stolen from the bees. They were already busy at work in the garden when I went out in the morning to pick. Being all too painfully aware of the horrors threatening the bees’ survival (Colony Collapse Disorder, poisoning, industrial farming, loss of habitat), I grow medicinal herbs as much for them as for myself. Our animal and plant friends need the nutrition and medicine that herbs offer the same as we do. So make sure you plant lots of extras 😉 (herbs in the photo, clockwise from top left: Holy Basil, Bee Balm, Echinacea, St. Johnswort,…

  • Herbs & Ingredients

    Herbal Lore: Calendula

    To say this cheerful, daisy-like flower is one of the most important plants in the herb garden is really not an exaggeration. Calendula has a long history of use as medicine, food, cosmetics, and fabric dye. It’s also a valuable companion plant in the garden, but I kindof like having it around just because it makes me smile…. 😉   Calendula (Calendula officinalis): Soothing, healing, antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Excellent for all skin types. Especially good for sensitive skin, dehydrated / dry skin, chapped / inflamed skin, wounds and burns.   A staple in Old English gardens and pantries, Calendula (sometimes called “Marigold”) was believed to keep you healthy during the Wintertime…