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It was time for me to harvest the lavender blossoms today. I planted a few French lavender babies three years ago and now they make a small hedge in my little herb garden by the house.

The bee’s are loving their visits to my house. I have intentionally planted nectar producing plants for the wee ladies- lavender, calendula, sweet peas, vegetables, berries, nasturtium, are all blooming in my garden right now.

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We gathered up another days worth of calendula. This time I had help… my son really wanted to help out with “picking heeeerbs”, as he puts it. One of the greatest gifts I offer my child is plant knowledge, he can identify so much at 4 years old and has even shown an older child how to make a plantain spit poultice. Way to make me proud!

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The bees were hard at work, drinking from our lavender blooms. Have you ever tried taking a picture of a bee at work? It’s not so easy, they really are busy bee’s…

I was sure there was a bee there...

I was sure there was a bee there…

Then things got more intimate, the bee’s accepted my relaxed presence and rather than flying away, they worked along side me as I crouched in the lavender patch among them…

Face first!

Face first!

The lavender patch is THE place to bee…

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Lavender nectar is sooo good!

Nom nom nom!

Nom nom nom!

Check out this last pic, do you see her wee tongue slurping up the good stuff? So precious! We love bee’s around here, can you tell?

Lavender blooms are for slurping.

The problem with beeing a bee lover AND a lavender lover is when you go to harvest the lavender, the bee’s doth protest. I had a few ladies stare me down and tell me off for cutting the lavender blossoms. I felt quite bad about it so I left enough blooms for them to enjoy their fellow foraging. I figure, we are all in this together, the lavender, the bee’s and I.

Lavender love to you,

Danika.

I first discovered Okanagan Okanogan when it’s author Harold Rhenisch linked to Girl Gone Wild & Weedy for my nettle soup recipe. I have been reading his words ever since. It’s not often that someone captures my attention this way, but Harold has such a fresh, lateral way of thinking that I find myself wanting to know more about his work. Harold seems deeply rooted to the Okanagan/Okanogan valley that runs down into Washington, and writes of his observations of the unique ecology and water systems of this valley that transcend colonial methods of land and water use, and how these observations could empower the social and economic fabric of this land. Underground clouds, sky rivers and rock face collection systems. Alternative crops that can reform land use. Wow. Just wow.

http://okanaganokanogan.com/

Darke Lake, BC.

Darke Lake, BC.

DSCN2107It was a rainy morning yesterday so I decided to stay inside and make a batch of lacto fermented vegie kraut. I’ve been wanting to make pickled purslane for a while now so I ventured down to the backyard and picked a few handfuls of this juicy, crunchy, fleshy, wild vegetable from the undergrowth of my vegetable garden. Inspired by my sister’s kimchi lesson, I decided to deviate from a traditional cabbage kraut and create something with a variety of textures and complimentary flavours.

First we chopped up cabbage, green onion, garlic scapes and salad turnips.

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Not all turnips made it.

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Then we set up an apparatus to separate some whey from our fresh batch of milk kefir in order to inoculate the kraut.

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Once the whey was dripping into our jar we wandered outside to the garden to pick purslane and have a play break in the rain.

Purslane in the undergrowth of the vegetable garden ecosystem.

Purslane in the undergrowth of the vegetable garden ecosystem.

A broccoli attack occurred…

DSCN2101DSCN2102But we still managed to pick enough purslane for the kraut.

DSCN2105We washed the soil off of our harvest and prepared to layer our kraut ingredients into our fermenting crock.

I picked up this crock at the local flea market for about $40. Way cheaper than buying a new fancy crock online.

I picked up this crock at the local flea market for about $40. Way cheaper than buying a new fancy crock online.

We layered the vegetables, sprinkling pickling salt between the layers.

DSCN2108It filled the crock at first…

DSCN2109But then we poured the whey on and began the pounding to create a brine.

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We pounded this kraut gently so as not to destroy the purslane.

And after the pounding there was not so much in the crock.

DSCN2112Then I placed a small plate on top of the kraut to ensure the vegetables stay under the brine and placed the lid on top to keep out unwanted intrusions.

DSCN2117And my lovely assistant got a starfish strawberry kefir popsicle.

DSCN2113The kraut is happily fermenting in its crock on the kitchen bench and will remain there for about 5 days until it is suitably pickled. Then I will transfer it into a jar and store it in the fridge.

Purslane is popping up now in the Okanagan in gardens and farmers fields. It is very tasty, quite mild in flavour with a pleasing texture and is a great intro to wild vegetables. Purslane boasts nourishing amounts of essential fatty acid omega 3, vitamin E, beta carotene, vitamin C, and riboflavin as well as vital magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.

We look forward to enjoying our nutrient rich purslane in many meals from now until the end of it’s growing season and hope to make some jars of garlic dill pickled purslane to enjoy in the cooler months as well.

I hope you try your hand at traditional lacto fermentation, it really is easy, yummy, and so good for you.

And don’t forget to eat your weeds.

Danika.

How cool is this?! A simple yet highly effective manual washing machine for under $10. I love off the grid options. One day my family may very well live “off the grid” so always good to learn a few tricks along the way.

DIY: Hillbilly Washing Machine.

 

 

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It’s Stinging Nettle season in the Okanagan.

I get pretty excited leading up to this part of the year and start to dream up stinging nettle recipes weeks before the nettles are ready to pick. I also have an irrational tendency to panic over not having enough nettles to last me a year even if I have jars and jars of dried nettle leaf and plenty steamed, chopped nettles in the freezer. And why wouldn’t I?

Nettles make you feel good…

Nettles, as a food, deeply nourishes and restores arguably better than any other. It’s absolutely delicious as a green vegetable, mineral dense and slightly salty, so rich in broths and green smoothies.  It dries easily and blends well with many other herbs for nourishing infusions, and a pinch added to tisane blends adds depth of flavour and colour.

I like to blend nettle tea with red clover and peppermint for an enjoyable, full flavoured tisane that not only tastes great it supports the adrenals, balances hormones, boosts fertility, settles the stomach, and helps prevent cancer; all while being rich in vitamins, minerals and life giving vibrancy.

I’m not going to go in depth as to why nettles are awesome, today. Instead I am going to share a recipe. I’ll probably make a nice monograph for nettles another time.

I’m in the mood to make, taste and experience good food made from nettles, so when I got home with the first of my harvest I made a batch of this delicious and nourishing soup. It is a creamy soup but not your traditional stodgy, thickened with flour, cream of chicken soup. It is light yet rich, made with fresh spring cream and scratch made chicken broth . A simple seasonal dish that is easy to make and very delicious, if not a little French rustic.

Creamy Nettle & Chicken Soup

nettle soup

Ingredients:

8 cups of freshly picked nettles

1 whole chicken, rinsed well (Pasture raised, organic, is best but work with what you’ve got.)

2T olive oil

1T butter

2 onions, fine diced

5 cloves of garlic, chopped

4 carrots, sliced

1T apple cider vinegar

Bay leaf

1 cup fresh cream (Again, the best is from pastured, organic cows, and watch out for funky additives.)

Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper

Chopped spring chives and chive blossoms to garnish

In a stock pot that will accommodate a whole bird, sauté the onions and carrots in the olive oil and butter until they soften and become deeper in flavour, releasing their aromatics. This will be your flavour base for the soup. Don’t over colour your onions and carrots, this soup is on the delicate side of flavour profiles. You want to enjoy the subtle flavours of nettles, broth, cream and chives and a more fresh and purifying sense in the mouth, unlike the colder months rich, slow cooked, winter soups.

Throw in the chopped garlic and bay leaf and sauté until there is a release of aroma. Add the vinegar and stir to deglaze the pan. Drop your bird into the pot then cover with fresh, cold, filtered water. Add a good tablespoon of salt and some cracked pepper to the pot and turn up the heat. Bring the broth to a boil then immediately turn the heat down to a gentle simmer.

After about 10 minutes a little bit of scum will surface. Grab your ladle and skim it off. Now you can use the pot’s lid to partially cover the stock pot so that the steaming broth can baste the top of the bird, as it will tend to float a bit as it cooks.

Leave your broth to simmer for an hour. While the broth simmers you can very lightly steam the nettles in a pot, just until they turn a gorgeous, bright green. Strain them, reserving the green liquid to add to the broth. Once they cool enough to handle roughly chop them up and set aside for serving.

After the broth has simmered for about an hour, test the doneness of the chicken. The meat should slip easily off the bone. Remove the cooked bird, strain the juices that run off but pour them back into the pot. Keep the broth simmering uncovered to reduce and concentrate the flavour while you deal to the chicken meat.

When the chicken is cool enough to handle pull the meat off the bones and chop half of it for the nettle soup. Save the rest of the meat for another dish tomorrow, it will have a lovely flavour and should be anything but dry.

Once the broth has reduced enough to your liking, take your ladle once again and skim off any undesired fat. There will be a layer floating on top. You may wish to keep it all, it is good fats after all. Or, like me, you may prefer a less oily soup and leave only enough to make yummy looking pools of goodness around the edges of the bowl. Now add the chicken meat back to the pot, add the cream and check the seasoning….

Is it good? No? Try more salt. Scratch made broth needs a good amount of salt in it. Not too much though, the nettles are a bit salty as they are mineral dense, but you won’t notice so much as not need extra salt once served.

Let everything warm back up together.

When ready to serve, portion the nettles into each bowl then ladle the hot soup on top of the greens.

Garnish with chopped spring chives and chive blossoms. Season if desired.

Serve with a salad of wild spring greens and slices of baguette spread with fresh butter.

Enjoy your yummy, creamy, nettle goodness.

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I have some more nettle greens recipes to share and I might do some tutorials on preparing nettles for the freezer, in vinegars for nutrient dense vinaigrettes,  and drying them for teas and infusions.

Or I might not. I have a strange perspective on blogging right now, currently feeling it’s a bit vain and self promoting, because, well it kind of is, hah! But on the other hand there are some great benefits, like getting to nerd out and write a monograph that has to be good because it will be scrutinised.

And I like that I have decided to share recipes. I have a skill and a passion for food, and now that I am not working in the culinary arts I no longer have to treat food (crap quality, so-called food that is) as a profit margin.

I love that I am falling in love with my culture of food and dining all over again. It’s like re-immersing myself into my true beliefs towards preparing and sharing nourishment that also tastes amazing. It’s about home grown and hand gathered, about slowing down, taking time, sharing with the ones I love and hanging out in bliss over a dish with a good glass of wine. Remembering my own food culture actually helps me deal with my homesickness. Now that’s got to be healthy.

It’s just too good not to share. We shall see what happens next…

Until next time, eat your weeds!

Danika.

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Look at that crazy wild Pine. How dare it be so sexy, showing it’s sexy bits like that…

Well hello there,

So I have been working on a couple other blogging projects lately, one for my dance troupe and one for the herbal community of BC and Canada, but lately I have been feeling a need to write on my personal blog and not necessarily only about plants. I have so much on my mind that I find I have a need for an outlet, to share my thoughts, as they do in essence relate to and connect to herbalism as a part of the whole.

So be prepared to find some different thoughts when you come here, other than my usual plant talk and medicine making recipes.

Also, I have been thinking about a name change for this blog. This in part comes from having a facebook page for this site and the weirdo’s it attracted due to the Girl Gone Wild & Weedy name. Yeah, people thinking they were going to find a topless stoner chick. I guess I should have not been so naïve, I did not know about girls gone wild culture until recently. Though in some ways I’m thinking it is about time we reclaimed the term “wild”. Wild does not mean drunk and promiscuous, when on earth did the word “wild” become connected to a thinly veiled part of our youth’s dysfunctional sexual connection or dare I say it, “rape culture”? Here is a dictionary definition….

Adjective
(of an animal or plant) Living or growing in the natural environment; not domesticated or cultivated.
Adverb
In an uncontrolled manner:  “the bad guys shot wild”.
Noun
A natural state or uncultivated or uninhabited region:  “kiwis are virtually extinct in the wild”.
Synonyms
adjective. savage – mad – feral
noun. wilderness – waste
Indiscriminately touching fronds. I'm so badass...

Indiscriminately touching fronds. I’m so badass…

Touching frogs, too! Oh the humanity. I totally see how this blog was mistaken for something it is not.

Touching frogs, too! Oh the humanity. I totally see how this blog was mistaken for something it is not.

 

Now, I have used the word as an adjective but to me wild means more. It means un-domesticated, natural, free, unadulterated, self sufficient, tenacious and strong. It means deeply connected to the Earth and thriving with all you need from the ecology around you. It means living without constraint of social or religious restrictions, and following your heartfelt path. It means deep dark and mysterious, and often it means the unknown. For me, wild represents something very complex, feminine and balanced.

I'm so promiscuous, blatantly loving my herbal medicines like this and taking pictures of it...

I’m so promiscuous, blatantly loving my herbal medicines like this and taking pictures of it…

 

In the case of this blog, I use the word “wild” specifically in description of plants. This blog is about wild and weedy plants. Wild plants as opposed to cultivated plants. Kind of boring, really.

So I have entertained the idea of a name change as Girl Gone Wild & Weedy now carries some negativity in my heart and actually created a reluctance to write here.

I am thinking of simply dropping the “Girl Gone” part and keeping the “Wild & Weedy” part. Not as catchy, but at least familiar for the long time readers. I’ll have to think about it some more.

Anyway, name change or not, Spring is here and a new season for getting down with my plant peeps.

I’ll write again when I can, next time about more interesting things than blog names.

Until then, take care,

Danika.

Hola beautiful people! How’s it going?

Guess what I have been up to? Germinating the seed of an idea with action, that’s what.

I will be winding down Girl Gone Wild & Weedy as I move on to another project. A community project. An awesome project. The Wild and Weedy blog will remain up as many still come for the recipes and such and perhaps I will still write the occasional article for it.

The project is called: The Gathering Basket.

It is an online community for BC herbalists. But not just for BC folks, it will have resources for all herb minded people from the Yukon to New Zealand. The service will offer cool articles, photos and video by various BC based herbalists and herbal students and also encourage all and any herbalist to contribute from the greater community. It has a herbal school directory, a herbal supply directory, a forum, an event page and a local sustainable business directory. It is a place that those who are seeking a local teacher or a bag of local nettles can come to find a connection that will take them where they need to go.

And I hope you come join us, too. I would love to offer you a place to promote your herbal work, school, business and events. I want this community service to be shaped by the people it serves.

Come on over, just take a short walk through the wild woods below and you will arrive at The Gathering Basket. (click on the forest) 😉

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www.thegatheringbasket.ca

Image by rgdaniel.

This is the beginning of a series of posts about water based herbal preparations. It’s all about the basics and a great place to begin your herbal journey!

Water based preparations are more than just a cup of simple chamomile tea, as wonderful as a cup of chamomile tea is. Water based preparations are, in my opinion, the best place to start when working with herbs especially nourishing herbs such as stinging nettles, oat straw and red clover. Water is available freely in most places, and safe to work with. Water can be used hot or cold and left to infuse with herbal goodness in solar warmth or lunar coolness. Water based preparations offer hydration. Water is the universal solvent, it dissolves plant minerals and vitamins rendering them bio-available and carries vital plant constituents to the body. Water also allows for flavour and scent to work it’s magic on the olfactory system, helping to deliver effects swiftly.

One of the first exercises I did when beginning my herbal studies was to compare different water based preparations. Using just one kind of herb I made hot water infusions with dried plant material and hot water infusions with fresh plant material. I made cold water infusions with  dried plants and cold water infusions with fresh plants. I used lots of plant material to make rich infusions and small amounts of herb to make tisanes or teas and compared the differences in flavour and effect. I simmered the herb and made decoctions. I set infusions out under the Sun to brew in warmth and under the Moon to brew in coolness. And that is where we will begin now, with my favourite water based preparation style for Spring and Summer blossoms:

Lunar Herbal Infusions.

Evening Primrose Flower and Red Clover Blossom lunar infusions with the Moon peeking over the clouds.

Oh my goodness, I am so excited to share this with you. Especially as it is Summer here in BC and there are plenty of blooms to choose from for a lunar herbal infusion.

Lunar infusions could be made with any fresh herb, or dried too. But the real magic happens with lunar flower infusions. I first experienced a cold water lunar infusion in Spring at herb school, it was a Dark Moon Violet lunar infusion. A jar was filled with little Violet flowers and wild waterfall water, then left out overnight under the dark new moon. When my teacher had me pour the infusion into pretty little tea glasses and hand it out to my beautiful class mates I was not expecting much at all. So when I took my first sip as we all stood around the warm fire pit I was taken by surprise, my eyes went wide and I do believe I exclaimed “Holy crap!!! I feel like bursting into song!” followed by the inspiration to actually sing a lyric written by Bjork (although I shyly spoke instead of singing), well, it’s not exactly her lyric (the correct word is blood, not flowers) but it is the words invoked in me at that beautiful moment:

“I’m a fountain of flowers, in the shape of a girl”

To taste a Violet lunar infusion was like being inside of the Violet bloom itself, to be wrapped in her petals and be drenched in her incredible aroma, her nectar gliding down my throat and through my body until I was filled with Violet vibrations and burst into a fountain of flowers. Woah. Who needs psychoactive drugs when you can burst into an explosion of flowers with one sip of Violet lunar infusion? Another very good reason to ditch the stimulate/sedate path and re-sensitize, don’t you think?

Suitable blooms for cold water lunar infusions include fresh Rose, Violet, Red clover, Evening Primrose, fruit blossoms such as Apple, Lilac (for bathing), Elderflower, Hibiscus, Lavender (just use a little Lavender or it will be too strong to drink, but excellent for bathing and beauty), Honeysuckle…. There are endless possibilities. I personally prefer flowers that are rich in aromatics because they remain vibrant and alive using the cold water lunar process. Hot water infusions change and dilute the aromatics.

Darke Lake Rose.

Last week my little family and I went out to Darke Lake near Summerland and camped for a few nights. The wild roses were in full glory so I filled a big jar with petals, topped it up with clear, fresh, wild mountain stream water then set it out under the stars for the night. Next morning I took my jar of Rose lunar infusion, a towel and a small basin up the creek to a waterfall and indulged in a private waterfall pool Rose bath, under a fallen Cottonwood and giant Devils Club leaves. I offered some to the water first, rinsed and then used the petals to wash my face and body. I finished with shower of Rose infused water and petals, allowing it to run into my mouth. Then I watched as the petals floated away downstream, feeling absolutely incredible. Yet another way to enjoy your lunar infusion.

My waterfall bathing pool.

So… Do you wanna try this out for yourself? Hell yeah!

Here’s how to make your own Lunar Herbal Infusion:

Gather your blooms fresh.

Fresh Evening Primrose flowers. They make an incredible, very moistening and cooling lunar infusion. Could be used for facial cleansing too.

Gently fill a mason jar with the whole, intact flowers, or petals, if you are gathering wild rose for instance and want to leave the rest of the flower to ripen into rose hips.

Pour filtered water over your beautiful blooms, seal with a lid then give a very gentle shake or tip upside down a few times.

Hug and kiss your jar of magical infusion. Give it some love!

Place your jar of goodness under the Stars and Moon and leave to the power of Luna for the night.

Upon rising in the morning find yourself a glass and a strainer then go out and get your incredible Lunar infusion. Strain into your glass and sip joyfully. Be careful… You might just explode into a fountain of flowers.

With Luna Love,

Danika.

Thank you!

The name poll is now closed. A big thanks to all that voted! Looks like the original name, Radiant Botanicals Facial Serum, is staying.

If you voted and would like a 25% off discount for The Herb & Petal Shoppe follow this link to my online store where you can send me a message. I will send you your coupon code as soon as I can. I’ll keep the offer going until July 5th. 🙂

Thank you again!

Have a wild and weedy day,

Danika.

I’ve been feeling I want to change the name of my beautiful herbal, youth elixir, facial serum. Only thing is I can’t decide which name I like best. Would you help me choose?

Anyone who votes on my poll with be offered a 25% off coupon code for The Herbal Shoppe! Just leave a message in the comments section and/or email me at herbandpetal at hotmail dot com.

Thank you for helping!

 

Playing with macro photography. My Calendula is blooming and will be made into a rich calendula salve this year.

Whenever I get a chance lately I have been focused and busy breathing energy and life into my sweet little herbal shop, The Herb & Petal Shoppe. I have been learning how to make the most of my camera’s abilities and while nothing like my analogue SLR (yes, I know I am far too young to be so behind the times…) it is capable of taking some fine photographs and touching them up in the camera itself. Cool. So I have been doing photo shoots the last couple of days with a clean and crisp concept and lighter, brighter images. Considering I have a 3 year old, a husband, study and a household to run, not mention seizing opportunity to wildcraft this rainy spring, it is taking a long time! I tend to have a lean on in some pic’s… like the way I slice bread. I need a plumb line to take photos or something. Maybe a tripod would be a good investment! Anyway, I am working my way toward a total re-shoot of all of my products.

Chamomile in my wild and weedy garden. Last year was made into a healing balm. This year, tisanes, tincture and more!

I’ve been creating new blends that have been floating around my head for over a year now, things that got put on the back burner when I accepted my job as Sous chef to Chef Mathew Morazain. I really don’t know why I don’t share more recipes with you all when I have some incredible and simple to prepare dishes made from herbs, weeds and wild foods in my repertoire. I am digressing here… but recipes are definitely something to look out for here on Girl Gone Wild and Weedy. So back to my new creations. I am currently having some of my tribal bellydance peeps and herb school class mates test my first raw honey mask and I can’t wait to reveal it to the world! It is a dreamy melange of raw honey, rose petals, rhassoul clay and organic essential oils of cacao and vanilla, and precious rose otto. In my opinion, it is nothing short of divine. But I would say that so lets wait to hear my test subjects feedback.

Still a little dark, will re-shoot for a brighter label.

Playing with light and shadow.

I’ve also decided to add some simple, raw products that I bought to blend into potions but are fabulous to use on their own, such as my awesome organic rose hip oil and evening primrose oil. I also have my hands on, in my opinion, the best supply of raw shea butter in Canada. I buy in bulk so I have decided to package and offer for sale to others this incredible shea butter from the Tapko Widows Group. It is the best!

Pure Evening Primrose Oil. Sooo lovely! I quite like my photograph, also.

With so much creative energy beginning to flow in me I am so excited for the future of my little shop and the love filled, herbal potions I have to offer the world. Here’s hoping Herb & Petal blooms into it’s full potential, for I would love nothing more than to have a real brick and mortar shop with a clinic for consultations in the back and a front room full of my herbal creations to offer my community. My dream come true.

Oenothera biennis or Evening primrose, growing in my wild garden. Ain’t she sweet?

Looking forward to sharing more of my creations with you!

With Love,

Danika.

Sacred Nature.

“Everyone, no matter what their cultural background, has a right to discover the sacred in nature; to heal and be redeemed spiritually by nature; and to revere the ancestors. We are all haunted and saved by our memories” -Martha Brooks (Bone Dance)

Kive Rose Hardin shared this quote earlier today. It speaks of something that is so true to me- the spiritual awakening I have experienced through my love and reverence of nature. I enjoyed the quote so much I decided to share it with you too.

Have a wild and weedy day!

Danika.

I shared this recipe back in February, my take on a creamy massage oil I learned how to make in a Love Medicine workshop at Wild Roots Herbal Learning Center.

I decided I should re-post the recipe, because it’s really good and deserves it’s own posting. I hope you try it out for yourself.

Enjoy!

Rich Chocolate, Cinnamon & Rose Massage Oil for Lovers.

1/8 cup pure prime pressed cocoa butter- wild or organic
1/2 cup wild rose infused almond oil or grape seed oil (you can use plain almond or grape seed oil if you don’t have rose infused oil but do try making your own rose oil if you ever get the chance. It’s pure love in a bottle!)
4-5 drops best quality cinnamon essential oil (be careful, cinnamon can be irritating in too strong doses, it is a stimulant to the skin… Ooo tingly!)
15 drops pure rose otto

To make your creamy massage oil, gently melt your cocoa butter in a small pot on low heat.

Once the butter has melted pour in your rose infused oil and swirl or stir your mix with a chopstick. You may have to gently warm the blend if the cocoa butter hardens a bit after adding the oil.

Add the essential oils and stir again with your chopstick. Make sure your massage oil is well blended.

Pour into a swoon worthy bottle that will entice you from the bedside.

Give your creamy massage oil a gentle shake before using to make sure the cocoa butter stays incorporated in the oil. When the weather gets cold, you may find you need to warm your oil if it stiffens. Do so by placing the bottle in warm water for a few minutes.

This massage oil blend smells incredible and may make you want to devour the skin it comes in contact with. Resist! Or don’t… It’s totally edible, as long as your lover doesn’t mind…

Is it just me, or is weaving wild, herbal goodness into your life in as many ways possible friggen awesome?! I’m obsessed.

Love,

Danika.

Recently, I had the honour of co-proofing author Jesse Wolf Hardin’s latest novel, The Medicine Bear. I relished the quiet, focused work of proof reading and fell in love with the characters Omen and Eland. I even found myself weeping and moved at times, all signs of a really good book! Jump over to The Medicine Bear website for more information on this soon to be released historical, herbal novel.

Stay Wild!

Danika.

A Spring outing with my son to gather Arrowleaf Balsam Root leaves.

Well there goes May, and with it Spring leaves me as early Summer rolls on in. My month of May was impeded by a chest infection but I still managed to get out to my Herb School classes and spend time wildcrafting and medicine making. I have welcomed into my life the act of prayer. In the past I had always associated prayer with religion and so avoided it. But as I grow older and connect deeper with Nature through my studies and passion for herbal folk medicine, my perception of life expands and opens, and my heart asks me to be more still, more quiet, so I can listen to the voices of the forest, of wild water and animal chatter, and if I am lucky perhaps for a moment I will hear the song of their Spirit. Prayer gives me a way to offer my intentions to all of creation here on Earth, be it of healing given or needed, love shared and received, joy and sorrow. It opens the door to communion with loving, healing, spiraling consciousness. And maybe it does far more… For me it is also a way to give offerings of love and to announce my intentions when working with the plant world.

Belly to the Earth, intoxicated by the scent of Oregon grape inflorescence.

Arrowleaf Balsam Root (Balsamorhiza sagittata)

Leaving the magical Nettle forest…

May brought fresh Nettles once again, something that makes me very, very happy. I have a weird fear of not having enough Nettles! I can’t live without them. On Mothers Day, I drove out to a friends farm with my son and husband and we spent the day picking beautiful, vibrant green Nettles. I dried about 10lbs, steamed off some for the freezer, made nettle infused oil for an under eye cream I am working on for Herb & Petal, my herbal skin care line, and cooked with nettles to my hearts content. I made a very yummy rustic nettle and goat cheese pie with whole grain sage pastry. I wasn’t completely happy with the result, next time I will add more creamy goodness to it like cultured cream cheese and mix the filling well with it, rather than leaving the cheese in chunks, to make for a richer, moister pie. When I have perfected my recipe I will share it with you…

Drying Nettles on an old screen.

Chopping Nettles for oil infusion.

Making Nettle oil infusion for skin care.

Cooked Nettles.

Making Rustic Nettle and Goat Cheese Pie with Sage Pastry.

Nettle and Goat Cheese Pie.

May also brought a ‘Super Moon’, which was very beautiful, although by the time the Moon rose over the mountains behind my house I had  missed the effect of it’s largeness. It was still an energy charged night and I was determined to have a fire outside to enjoy it. I searched around for a second hand brazier to enable backyard campfires but there was no way I was going to pay much for one. So I got my spade out and dug a lovely fire pit for free. 10 minutes later I had an awesome, rock lined fire pit and we have been loving it! Besides, I can cook on my backyard fire pit. Braziers are for….

The full Moon as it drifted over my side of the mountain.

I also had the opportunity to go to Summerhill Organic Winery for the Fertility Festival and interviewed local folk punk band The Dirty Earth. Lots of fun, yummy food and wine, artists, artisans, music and beautiful, shining people everywhere. I’ll post the interview in a separate blog entry soon!

The Dirty Earth played in the Kekuli at Summerhill’s Fertility Festival this May.

Well, I had more to say but I am fading in my enthusiasm presently. It’s been a long week, motherhood has been trying for me lately with low energy levels and the lingering infection in my lungs. Finding time to do all I must and rest to recover is almost impossible. I haven’t even set up shop at my farmers market yet this season, something that bothers me to no end. I must persevere and hope that I am filled with boundless energy soon!

Thanks for stopping by, see you again real soon!

Danika.

I LOVE cooking on an open fire or camp fire. Check out this yummy inspiration: Campfire Roast Chicken with Flowering Onion and Dill over at Nourished Kitchen. I’m roasting a Cornish game hen this way tonight, using the herbs growing abundant in my garden. A recipe is meant to be a guideline only, so go wild… ♥

http://nourishedkitchen.com/campfire-roast-chicken-with-flowering-onion-and-dill/

Enjoy, Wild Ones!

Love,

Danika.

Today I begin a new chapter in my life, as apprentice to a Wise Woman Herbalist. For the next 9 months I will be a student of Wild Roots Herbal Learning Center and partake in the Womens Herbal Intensive. We will learn the ways and traditions of women healers. I am so friggen excited!! And, nervous to be an apprentice. I do have a sense of going to Baba Yaga’s house to complete her tasks in exchange for snippets of her wisdom. But this herbalist is very much a natural beauty and as far as I know, she does not fly around in her mortar and pestle at night! But you never know…. Actually, I wouldn’t mind taking my own mortar and pestle for a spin! Wouldn’t that be fun?

Enjoy the new Moon energy, you crazy, wild wonders….

Love,

Danika.

He whah kai rongorongo e mahia ana mai i to po, he irirangi roreka oro ana ki te ao, e whaka arongo atu nei.

The pleasant voice of song, a divine sound wafted tremblingly from the now silent past to the listening present.

Not plant roots. Ancestral roots. Spiritual roots. Heart felt roots. O.k then, plant roots too…..

I am home sick. I am here in Canada because of a pull I could not ignore any longer. I felt a drum beat for months, maybe it was years, I don’t remember… Calling to me, pulling me from my home in New Zealand, drawing me nearer. A beckoning. I had people to meet, places to see. Important voices to be heard. Important words to speak. And I still do. Although, apart from my family I am still not sure why exactly I ended up making my home in the Okanagan of British Columbia.

I feel like an oddball. But then, I think maybe I always have felt that way. But growing up Kiwi has left it’s impressions on me and I am inherently Kiwi. Born in Canada to a New Zealander father and Canadian mother, leaving the north for the islands of New Zealand at age 2, I have always been split between two worlds.

I love the people of New Zealand. The ones I grew up with, my first loves, my teachers, my relations, my community. Yet I always felt apart from them. Different. I don’t know that I was ever wholly accepted as one of my own human community. But the wild land of New Zealand, the earth and plants, the spirits, they accepted me and drew me near. For real. Every time I left my islands I mourned for the land more than the people. I love the people, they are my kith and kin, but the land, she is spooky. She claimed me as her own and calls to me from a great distance. She calls to me now. It’s powerful shit.

Ask pretty much any Maori person, young or old and they will tell you how real this is. Like the time I met Mahuika on the Takaka Hill, a mountain full of crystals and tomo’s. I was minding my own business, walking near the summit with my male room mate a few metres behind me on the path, brushing the turpentine plants with my fingers and then out of the green, there she was, the fire woman. Talking to me. “What is he doing here sister?” Ummm, say what? Holy crap, what just happened? I looked back towards my room mate and couldn’t see him. But I understood. She doesn’t trust men. They tricked her into giving up her fire. The fire that burned from her finger tips. A gift to mankind, yet stolen. A story all women can relate to. That shit is real.

And now I am land locked in the arid zones of Canada. A delight unto itself for I had no idea there were deserts here. But far from the sea and the familiar. I don’t know when I will get to go home again. I worry about the future of all islands as Canada and the rest of the world turn their heads from the effects of their actions, the relentless need to burn fossil fuels, to disregard the rest of the planet as long as there is benefit to their own economies. To continue living in a ‘throw away society’. The tar sands, now there is a heartbreaking reality… There will be dire consequences for island nations soon enough. The Pacific nations may cease to exist within my sons lifetime. I hope not.

As giving as the plant world is here, as much as it teaches me and puts up with my curiosity my heart aches for another place.

And that is my life, for now… It is how it will be and I must accept that. For there is much more that I must learn here. That much I feel in my heart to be true.

With love,

Danika.

Photo credit: Barbara DuTot

Early Sunday morning, two days before Valentines day I found myself up early and driving north up the Okanagan valley to the “heart” of the Shuswap on my way to Wild Roots Herbal Learning Centre. Barbara DuTot, Wise Woman Herbalist and founder of the herbal learning centre, had invited me to assist her in running an all day Love Medicine workshop. How could I say no? The very intrigue of the thought of love medicine had me curious and excited about how the day would unfold.

But first lets back track…. How did I go from lonely herbal wanderer, seeking kinship and community through a blog to assisting a beloved local herbal teacher? Well, it has been some time since we last got together on Girl Gone Wild and Weedy and I have been keeping my adventures secret, shall we say?

Barbara DuTot. Community Herbalist. Seen here enjoying some dandelion love.

I met Barb in person last year at the end of summer by attending her Heartfelt Hawthorn plant study class. How I never came across her school when I was looking in earnest for a local, grass-roots herbal teacher is beyond me but it was actually through Kiva Rose of Anima Herbal School, New Mexico, that I found Barb. I became Kiva’s student because I could not find a local teacher!  Actually, one of my first assignments from Kiva was to find a traditional healer in my area so when I found Barb I was very excited.

Well for some reason Barb must have thought I was all right because she has kept inviting me back. Through Barb and her school, a community of home and folk herbalists is forming and uniting. Women (and men) from up and down the Okanagan/Shuswap Valleys are celebrating their love of plants and nature, nourishing their bodies with weedy wonders and strengthening their bond with the natural world through the gift of heartfelt knowledge, offered by Barb. How lucky am I to be a part of that?!

Photo by Barb DuTot.

Back to the road trip to Wild Roots… I arrived early at Barb’s adorable homestead in the beautiful Trinity Valley and was put to work minding the beets roasting in the oven and tending the rising bread, setting up the tables with pink and red cloth and laying out cups and glasses for herbal rose petal vinegar water and hot herbal love cacao.

Photo by Barb DuTot

As the guests arrived I hugged familiar folks and poured glasses of waterfall water with a splash of rose petal vinegar to sip while we pondered this: Five words to described what you feel love is and three things you love about yourself.

I should have kept the paper with my answers, well, I was under the influence of damiana and cacao by the end of the day… but it went something like this:

1. Passion. Love is passion.

2. Babies! Baby boy’s, baby girls, baby animals, baby plants…. Love is new life.

3. Patience. Any mother of a 2 1/2-year-old boy will tell you, love is patience.

Hmm, I am having trouble recalling the last two as there were so many good answers from all the people there that they are all merging into one memory. There was some great ones. Let’s go with how I feel right now about love…

4. Willingness. Love is willingness to love and be loved. Love is the willingness to see the ugly, the dark, the grotesque,  and the sick and not shy away, love is letting healing take place.

5. Love is universal. Not a living thing on this Earth is immune to the power of love.

Love is Babies in violet fields! Photo by Barb DuTot.

I like the way Barbara puts it: “Love is multifaceted”. There are so many things love is to each of us. What a great way to get your students thinking about the topic of love medicine. It is not a black and white topic of interest by any means. It is multifaceted.

As for the three things I love about myself… That’s private. 🙂

Heart loving Hawthorn. Photo by Barb DuTot.

After introductions our conversation turned to the heart, physical and energetic. Barb explained the function and intelligence of the heart. She introduced us to the magnetic field that pulses beyond the physical body around the heart area of your torso. She led us through an exercise, perceiving our own ‘heart field’ and then opening up to perceiving a partners. We pondered the reasons why we feel love and heartache in our hearts and not another part of our selves. And then we moved on to the herbal aspects of the day….

As Barb said “so there are a myriad of ways to experience Love, so are there are a myriad of herbs to facilitate Love. With such a plethora of plants from which to choose, Barb decided to focus on herbs that nourish and open the heart and to “spice it up” with some herbal aphrodisiacs!

We sipped and tasted tinctures, honeys, elixirs and teas, familiarizing ourselves with the taste, impression and effect of each plant: rose, hawthorn, self-heal, oatstraw, violet flowers, nettle (heart of the world – Rudolph Steiner), tulsi, motherwort, cacao, damiana, kava, macca and we discussed so many more . We sampled incredible elixirs made of wild rose petals and powdered cacao, brandy and honey. (I had to restrain myself from running away and hiding with the jar of cacao elixir so we could be alone…)

Photo by Barb DuTot.

“In the Tantra, the mystical and spiritual philosophy that exalts the union of opposites at all levels, from the cosmic to the infinitesimal, and in which man and woman are mirrors of divine energies, violet is the colour of female sexuality; which is why it has been adopted by some feminist movements.” -excerpt from “Aphrodite, A Memoir of the Senses” Isabel Allende.

We experienced food as love medicine, sharing a beautiful, simple meal. If you happen to be at Barb’s house, you know you are going to eat well! Her basic philosophy is “Food is Medicine” and she advocates choosing local and organically grown food whenever you can for the most nutrient dense foods for building health.

Lunch included butternut squash soup – high in beta carotene– important for the production of estrogen and keeping the mucous membranes lubricated and healthy, nibbled home-made focaccia, and snacked on super yummy roasted beet salad, so good for libido and health, dressed in “heart-healthy” hawthorn and honey vinaigrette. We shelled and ate cacao beans and sipped glasses of bubbly and sweet raspberry, hawthorn and elderflower spring water spritzers. And then we delighted in dark and chocolaty tofu brownies with rose petal whipped cream. Then, we all basked in the afterglow…

After our senses regained we moved on to arguably the best part of a Wild Roots Herbs class- the medicine making! We made pink St. Johns wort lip balm for puckering up, Aphrodites Atomic Love Bombs- handmade truffles with a sesame paste base, chocolate chunks, honey and plenty of macca. (Macca is said to increase a mans potency by 200%…!!!  That’s pretty potent!) Love Elixir- a blend of damiana and raspberry syrup that totally transports you to a dreamy lovey state, and sensual creamy massage oil that we each scented to our personal desire with my plentiful essential oil kit that I brought along. I chose to enhance the chocolate aroma (from the cocoa butter) with rose otto and cinnamon. It is so good it is literally edible. So warming and deeply sensual, a match made in heaven!

Photo by Barb DuTot.

I left feeling incredible, with an armful of delightful creations to bring out on Valentines day…

Valentines day: It fell on a Tuesday. Dance night! I learn American Tribal Style Bellydance at Blackthorn Bellydance and the Valentines day class was one of the best so far. So much awesome energy shared between women who love to dance with each other. I came home on a high to my child already fed and bathed and ready for bed. My man had a meal cooking in the oven for me –  the most perfectly cooked, organic, local rack of lamb I have ever had. (Well done, husband!) Served with roasted baby potatoes and asparagus roasted with romano cheese and a local cabernet sauvignon. We sipped wine and savoured our meal over beeswax candlelight, left the dishes and retired to our deep red and earthy bedroom to finish our wine and get into our love potions. I played the dreamy music of Solace as we sat on the bed chatting and eating love bombs in the flickering light. We switched our wine for love elixir, it tasted so good! Feeling dreamy and sensual myself and still in costume of tucked and layered gypsy skirts, nettle hip scarf, deep red choli and beautiful coin bra I got up and danced a serpentine dance for my love, for the very first time. He had never seen me dance before then. Maybe it was the love bombs, maybe the wine or the damiana kicking in but I have never seen my husband so mesmerized. The rest of the night was blissful….

Love medicine is potent. 😉

Want to try making your own creamy, dreamy massage oil? Here’s a recipe for my take on the creamy massage oil we made…

Rich Chocolate, Cinnamon & Rose Massage Oil for Lovers.

  • 1/8 cup pure prime pressed cocoa butter- wild or organic
  • 1/2 cup wild rose infused almond oil or grape seed oil (you can use plain almond or grape seed oil if you don’t have rose infused oil but do try making your own rose oil if you ever get the chance. It’s pure love in a bottle!)
  • 4-5 drops best quality cinnamon essential oil (be careful, cinnamon can be irritating in too strong doses, it is a stimulant to the skin… Ooo tingly!)
  • 15 drops pure rose otto

To make your creamy massage oil, gently melt your cocoa butter in a small pot on low heat.

Once the butter has melted pour in your rose infused oil and swirl or stir your mix with a chopstick. You may have to gently warm the blend if the cocoa butter hardens a bit after adding the oil.

Add the essential oils and stir again with your chopstick. Make sure your massage oil is well blended.

Pour into a swoon worthy bottle that will entice you from the bedside.

Give your creamy massage oil a gentle shake before using to make sure the cocoa butter stays incorporated in the oil. If it gets cold, you may find you need to warm your oil if it stiffens. Do so by placing the bottle in warm water for a few minutes.

This massage oil blend smells incredible and may make you want to devour the skin it comes in contact with. Resist! Or don’t… It’s totally edible, as long as your lover doesn’t mind.

Violet Honey. Photo by Barb DuTot.

Well, that’s it for now. I hope you have enjoyed your read and perhaps found a little inspiration for making your own love food and aphrodisiacs. Have fun! And remember…. “Love is the greatest aphrodisiac”

With wild and weedy love,

Danika.

I want to give a big, heartfelt thank you to the lovely Barbara DuTot for being, among other things, an editor extrodinaire, lending me quotes from Isabel Allende’s beautiful book and the use of her beautiful photos. Thank you Barb! <3<3<3

Not the most attractive picture of me but look how lovely those nettles are. So photogenic!

Bahaha, I’m so friggen funny. Sorry for being a dork with the title.

Obviously, I have not been writing for some time and as we don’t know each other that well, I will spare you the details of my turbulent life of late. Let’s just say that being a nature worshiping, plant loving, wild food eating heathen does not spare you from the occasional heartaches of life. All is not sunshine and butterflies all the time, as one might be led to believe. Life is bloody hard at times for all of us, whatever our passions may be.

But here I am on this damp, snowy afternoon, giving it a shot again. I feel a bit word shy as it has been so long since I wrote anything of interest. I feel it best to be frank about that fact I am feeling unsure of my ability to write at the moment. But enough whining! I am back to my usual mischief and there are people out there that want to read about it and I would love to share with you all, once again.

Believe me, I have not been hiding under a fallen log all this time, even though that sounds pretty good to me! I have still been out and about, sowing my seeds, grounding my roots, living and loving with the herbal community that is growing around me. It’s about bloody time I got over myself and put finger to keyboard! The herbalists of the Okanagan are coming out of the wild woods and I want to share our stories with the world. And today’s story will be all about a Sunday spent at Wild Roots Herbal Learning Center’s love medicine workshop, as Wise Woman herbalist Barb DuTot’s spoon washer, I mean assistant. (Love you, Barb!)

I am off to fill my tea cup and smoke some sage, then back to the business of my awkward typing. Article to be posted after I check with Barb for accuracy on certain points.

See you again real soon!

With love,

Danika.

Hi there!

It has come to my attention there are bloody ads on my proudly ad free blog! What the hell?! Call me naive, I am so new to the world wide web, blogging and IT. Heck, I don’t even own a cell phone. I have a perfectly good home phone, after all.

Anyways, the only way to make my blog truly ad free is to pay WordPress. This has to wait until I go back to work in the fall, cause I am a poor home study student with a very small business making skin care to sell at the farmers market. I just don’t have any spare money to pay for the right to be ad free on my blog right now. Sigh…

Luckily, I work at the local university during the school year and work will begin again soon.

I hate ads being on my work. Sure, I have badges linking to other awesome herbal goodness and people. Because I believe in what they are doing and want to support them. I get no monetary benefits from doing so. But as for the wordpress generated ads, well I can’t stand it so soon, they will be no more on Girl Gone Wild and Weedy.

Hope this clears up any confusion, I feel so silly for not being aware of the way things are.

Hope you all have an awesome weekend doing what you love!

Danika.

A few years ago, sitting by my beloved Motueka River. My sacred place to meditate, contemplate, and bath away my troubles.

Barbara from Wild Roots Herbs posted this on her facebook page. I had to share as I feel so strongly about the right for all life on Earth to have pure water. I also believe that Water itself has the right to be honoured, and treated with the highest respect, for without it, we will all surely perish. This report is about the Traditional Ecological Knowledge of the First Nations of Southern Interior British Columbia, in regards to water and the way this knowledge differs from the Western Scientific view of water being a lifeless commodity.

Water. A First Nations’ spiritual and ecological perspective.

Go to the Water, the Living Water. And give thanks, give offerings, pray. Let us remember, it is the Blood of Earth.

With Love,

Danika.

Mullein. Sweet and caring, tall and strong, nomad of the wild garden. As all gypsies, you are misunderstood by many, and as all gypsies, you are always welcome in my home and garden!

Mullein Flower in my garden.

I think most folks have at least seen this weedy wonder in the wild, the roadsides, the field or as a youngling trying to get a foot hold in one’s garden. If you happen to live by my house then you would also have seen it in my front garden growing tall and proud, probably to my neighbours confusion.

Often misunderstood, I have heard one young man proclaim “Mullein. It’s SO ugly!”. No you’re not mullein, no you’re not. I find it amusing that the same young man accepted a herbal syrup made by me for his sick girlfriend made of rosehip, elderberries, honey, and MULLEIN! She recovered quickly and I hope they have made peace with the giving, loving, mullein.

If you are not familiar with Mullein lets start with the basics…

Mullein.

Botanical name: Verbascum spp.

Species living in BC: Verbascum thapsus.

Botanical family: Scrophulariaceae

Folk names: Mullein, Our Lady’s Flannel, Hag’s Taper, Hedge Taper, Torches, Wild Ice Leaf, Candelaria.

Ecology in BC: Widespread and common at low to mid elevations in disturbed, especially gravelly sites, fields and pastures. Mostly absent from wet Columbia Mountains.

Parts used:  Leaf, flower, roots, flower stalk resin.

Taste: Bland, salty, some say vanilla. I think the flowers smell/taste like a strange sweet spice….

First Nations use: According to my field guide the BC Interior native peoples smoked the leaves. Personally, I think they would have fully embraced this gently powerful medicinal herb and smoking it is just one way to utilize the healing powers of Mullein.

Mullein in my front yard growing tall.

Mullein is a Eurasian plant that followed the immigration of European Peoples to North America and indeed anywhere else they settled including my homeland, New Zealand. It is now widely established all over the world. I love my teachers thoughts on Mullein. She considers it a guiding light and calls it:

“An important guardian plant, emphasized in how it followed European immigrants to the Americas, and served as an herbal bridge between old world and new world healing traditions, to the point where very few herbalists or folk healers could imagine a practice without this beloved and widespread remedy.” – Kiva Rose Hardin.

Mullein is a biennial, the first year showing a lovely, soft basal rosette of leaves. The second year, growing skywards until it’s flower stalk reaches up to 2 metres high!

I have observed it to be habitat to many small insect creatures who live amongst the shelter of the soft leaves. In fact, during a visit with a wild Mullein plant my young son and I came across a pretty spider living in the leaves of a first year rosette. Now anytime Aries see’s a Mullein plant he squeals in delight saying “Hi! Bug!”. Oh, small children are so sweet.

The flower stalks. One main stalk and on this plant, a couple off shoots too.

Medicinally Mullein has a tradition of being used for respiratory ailments and is very effective used for dry hacking coughs when you need some help expelling the phlegm. Indeed it can be used in many lung remedies but Mullein doesn’t stop there.

It is famous for it’s use as an ear infection oil and perhaps your own mother treated you with Mullein oil in your childhood. Do use caution if you intend to use Mullein oil to treat an ear infection, it works wonderfully, however a ruptured ear drum needs immediate attention and should not be subjected to any oil or otherwise. So if there is any risk of rupture, do seek medical attention immediately.

Mullein leaves. Soft and prickly at the same time.

I am learning this wonderful plant is of great benefit to lymphatic stagnation and can be used internally as an infusion or externally as a poultice made from the fresh leaves dipped in hot water or pounded and then placed on the glands.

Much to my surprise and satisfaction I have learned of Mullein having great affinity to the musculoskeletal system and is a useful ally in cases of slipped discs, broken bones and pain in the neck and hips, reducing pain and inflammation in both humans and animals. I look forward to learning more of its musculoskeletal medicine.

Mullein also has powerful uses for the nervous system, the urinary system, and as a wound healing salve bringing relief and healing to the injured.

Most notably for me right now is the golden light Mullein shines for those feeling lost in the dark. I have recently felt a little uncertain, unsure of myself and found I had lost my own shining light amongst confusion and feelings of inadequacy and worries of  nonacceptance that stemmed only from within myself. No one likes feeling that way and one must go within to find the source. But sometimes you need a little help from loving friends to resurface with confidence. (Thank you, Gwendolyn <3)

Making Mullein tincture. It turns bright yellow when first made.

This is where Mullein offers her sweet yellow flowers to lend a helping hand in the form of a tincture. Even the act of harvesting the flowers and placing them in vodka to see it turn a sunshine yellow is uplifting and cheering. Mullein flower tincture, when taken, holds up that guiding light, showing a way out of the darkness and “providing an internal sense of safety and confidence” (Kiva Rose).

So while I am alone in the darkness of an internal night, perhaps a little scared I will wander deeper, I turn to Mullein. She offers me her golden torch to guide me through a darkness with no Moon. And at the darkest hour there she is, the Golden Dawn.

Mullein flowers in vodka.

Resources:

Plants of Southern Interior British Columbia and the Inland Northwest; Parish, Coupe, Lloyd; Lone Pine Publishing.

The New Holistic Herbal; David Hoffmann; Element Books Limited.

From the Ground Up course work in Traditional Western Herbalism; Kiva Rose Hardin; Anima Herbal and Lifeways School.

Lush little gully full of life at James Lake, BC.

I have not written in while now and have much to catch up on so I can continue in some sort of seasonal flow here with the plants I discover and learn to use in my area. So I will start with my late spring/early summer wanderings and hopefully next time I can focus more on one plant at a time with each subsequent posting.

We had a strangely cool and wet Spring here in the Okanagan and the Summer is unfolding much warmer but the rain has yet to fully burn off for the season. Just this afternoon we had an impressive thunderstorm that flooded my garden and driveway for a little while. This is great for our water supply and the wild plants and cultivated fields are looking lush for now. The spring rain came every few days and although light and misty it made the harvest of wild herbs rather difficult to plan around at times considering other commitments must be fulfilled and I had to wait till late afternoon for the plants and flowers to dry off some days.

Like recently, I had planned a trip to gather some arnica while they bloomed as I am nearly out of arnica balm, a medicine kit staple. I arrived to find what arnica had flowered was spent and the majority of the arnica fields had not reached inflorescence anyways. So I wandered off  in search of other good things growing in the woods and wild fields.

Wild rose. It doesn't get any better for me.

As it turned out the wild rose was blooming and looking vibrant and lush so I gathered some petals, a handful of unopened buds to blend into my favourite tisanes and a few leaves as well. I made the petals and leaves into my first rose tincture. I want to get to know the Wild Rose much more intimately this year along with Elderberry and also Choke Cherry as I have never met a wild cherry tree before now nor have I tasted it’s fruit or bark. As it happens there is a stand of choke cherry trees near the wild rose I visit.

Pikitau with James Lake in the background.

On the weekend of Fathers day we went on a camping trip up to James Lake. It’s a lake in the hills behind my house, it takes about an hour to drive up there from where we are. What’s kind of cool is it’s so close yet a completely different ecology. The Okanagan is awesome like that, so much diversity in such a small area.  I couldn’t  believe my luck, there were so many herbs and mushrooms up there to get to know. Some I have seen before like violets although the James Lake violets are the yellow flowered stream violet. Others I had noticed previously while reading my local field guide for leisure like the dork I am. Like Cow Parsnip. You can eat the young stems, peeled and sauted in butter and garlic would be superb camp fire fare. We nibbled them raw just to have a taste and become familiar but left the rest undisturbed. A word of warning about cow parsnip, it is from the carrot family and lives in similar habitat as the highly toxic water hemlocks and poison-hemlock. Even small amounts of these poisonous plants can be fatal. I cannot stress positive identification enough! If your are not 100% sure of a carrot family plant, or any for that matter, leave it alone! I bear no responsibility for others foolishness, if you cannot ID a plant and choose to ingest it that is your business but don’t say I didn’t warn you… I write these articles for your general interest only. Take care of your own health, please. That said, cow parsnip is quite distinguishable from other carrot family plants, if you know what you are looking for. A good field guide and/or real live human guide is not optional.

Cow Parsnip - heracleum lanatum. AKA Indian celery and Indian rhubarb. Note the big dried out flower stalk from last years inflorescence.

Viola Glabella or Stream Violet. Abundant around James Lake, BC.

Mountain Sweet Cicely - Osmorhiza chilensis. Anise flavoured leaves and roots reminisent of baby carrots.

Mountain Sweet Cicely root. Please be very mindful when harvesting a plant for it's roots, you are taking the whole plant and it will not grow back. Use your common sense and do not harvest if there is lack of abundance of the plant you wish to take. If you do take it, use it all. Don't let the plants life be in vain.

Naturally there were Nettles, my favourite! I finally found a healthy abundant patch of nettles and I was stoked. I gathered the tops carefully and thankfully and still have a little steamed and frozen for my autumn soups. I actually came across gold while I was enjoying some time alone fishing. Morel mushrooms!  They have to be, in my opinion, the best tasting mushrooms ever. It was really cool to be able to pick some wild morels and serve them sauteed with garlic and dandelions on top of campfire steaks.

Need I introduce you?

Camp fire cooking is the best kind of cooking.

Basket o' nettles...

Morels!

A little friend hopped over to say hi.

Can I kiss you little prince?

My boy loves the natural world. I caught him kissing a plants leaves once!

Who doesn't love a camp fire?

I also found wild angelica, fields of wild strawberries and heart leaf arnica and many varieties of horsetail. There were gooseberry bushes everywhere! I hope to get up there when they are fruiting. I would love some to play around with in syrups and maybe an elixir. Does anyone reading this make a wild gooseberry elixir? Is it done? It sounds good to me, perhaps when I get to know it’s energetics better I will know if this is appropriate.

As the summer has progressed and all kinds of plants send out their flowers to worship the sun I have been able to positively identify all these new plants with greater ease and certainty that I am beholding the plant I think I am. Very important. I am very happy about all the sweet clover that lives around my semi-rural neighbourhood, I couldn’t be completely sure the young plants were sweet clover or alfalfa as I had seen neither before in real life and they looked similar to me when they were emerging. Apparently, sweet clover makes awesome pesto and I really love using wild greens in my cooking to boost nutritional value of our meals but also because they bring fresh, new, vibrant flavours to our palates and my palate happens to be very tired of commercial vegetables. Of course I shop at my farmers market and grow a small garden but wild greens are primal, they thrive without requiring human interference and they are free. Nobody’s going to complain about you taking so called weeds like sweet clover, lambs quarters and dandelions so why not go out and get them…

Ahh it feels good to have a catch up and get out what has been in my head. I’d like to get much more in depth with individual plants however I realize this summer will be all about discovering new plant allies, what they look like, where they grow, the basics of how they help people. Only once I have become acquainted can I begin to walk deeper into each plants mysteries and hopefully emerge with wisdom that can be shared with fellow herb seekers. I hope your Summer (or Winter as the case may be) is going wonderfully for you.

See you next time!

Danika.

Herbs for hair.

I’ve been playing around with making natural herbal shampoo lately after a friend told me she wanted to try making natural hair care at home so she could drop the store bought chemical cocktails we call shampoo. I have some organic liquid castile soap on hand so I thought I would give it a go too. I had intended to make my next batch of soap into shampoo bars but as I already had the liquid castile I went ahead and blended my first batch of natural herbal shampoo.

My first attempt went well, I made a strong infusion of lavender and calendula as the herbal base for my shampoo and added chamomile and lavender essential oils to the finished blend. It resulted in a beautifully gentle and effective shampoo that leaves my hair feeling like all it needs is a finishing rinse with infused herbal vinegar (my next little project). That’s saying a lot for I have a full head of wild, most unruly, ‘pagan curls’ to quote an Irish priestess I met one Spring at a celebration.

This time I’m making some shampoo for my friend Kim. Kim is one hell of a Natural Mama, making raw food delights, super smoothies and wild meat dishes for her wee family every day while also starting up her own incredible Bilingual Early Childhood Learning Centre. This is not just any old preschool either, she’s built a clay pit for the kids to roll around in out of an old pool table, has nature tables, bread making and barefoot painting on the curriculum and runs a healthy hot lunch program for hungry preschoolers (I’m talking elk meat spaghetti with vegetable puree in it, yum!).

Kim with her beautiful son Izaak out for a hike.

Kim deserves some heavenly herbal shampoo and she loves natural skin care so lets get busy and make….

Kim’s Nettle, Sage & Calendula Shampoo!

The first thing to do is get the herbs infusing, so I’m throwing a few spoonfuls of dried nettles, some horsetail leaf, a small handful of calendula flowers and a small bunch of fresh sage from my garden into a glass jar.

My little one loves to help his Mama make herbal potions.

Next I add 1 cup of boiling water or enough to cover the herbs, put the lid on and let the herbs steep for at least 4 hours.

I love the look of herbs infusing in a glass jar.

When the infusion is ready I strain it well and pour it into a measuring cup, you want about a cup of it.

Nice dark infusion for Kims beautiful dark hair.

Next I add a 1/2 cup organic liquid castile soap, 1/4 teaspoon organic golden jojoba oil, and about 30 or 40 drops in total of essential oils. I’m using lavender, peppermint and a little chamomile for Kim’s shampoo. You can use less or more essential oil, it’s up to you but I never exceed 2% of the total volume of what ever I am making.

Now just gently stir it to blend all the ingredients well.

Pour it into a suitable bottle.

Label it. Make sure you put a date on it somewhere for your own reference as this is a natural homemade product with no preservatives and will only keep a few weeks so make small batches and use it up!

Unfortunately I gave Kim her shampoo before I took a picture of it all bottled up but I’ll post a nice picture of my homemade shampoo here at a later date, ok? 🙂

There you go. Hand crafted herbal shampoo is that easy to make. Why would you ever buy even so called natural commercial shampoo again when you can make you own custom blend just like that?!

When you use your shampoo remember:

  • The jojoba will separate so shake it up before each use.
  • It is much thinner and less foamy than store bought shampoo but it works just as well, better in my opinion. Homemade shampoo will not strip your hair of all it’s natural oils which triggers your sebaceous glands to produce more sebum, making you wash it more often (buy more shampoo). It leaves your hair clean, soft and healthy. All you need is a final rinse with herbal vinegar for silky locks. Maybe a weekly herb infused oil hair treatment too.
  • It may take a week or so for any build up to dissolve and for your body to adjust it’s sebum flow. The jojoba will assist your body in regulating your sebum. Thanks, Jojoba!

I hope Kim likes her herbal shampoo, and I hope you try it out for yourself soon. It’s so worth the little effort and doesn’t it feel good to take control of what you consume? Hell yeah!

Wishing you all warm herbal blessings,

Danika.

Join this awesome FREE webinar by following this link. I can’t recommend Learning Herbs or Kiva enough! They are offering a free class to help demystify herbs, I’ll be there!

http://www.learningherbs.net/onlinemeetingsnow/herbwebinar/

Happy Herbal Adventures!

Danika.

I just wanted to drop a quick line in thanks of all the great comments, subscribers and encouragement I have gotten since going live in December last year with Girl Gone Wild and Weedy. Over a thousand views already! I will keep it up for sure and have lots of great stuff in store for the green seasons. Right now I am getting to know my local artemisia and have a lovely article on this wonderful arid zone plant brewing up, I hope you will enjoy it!

The soft, silvery and graceful Artemisia frigida or Pasture Sage. More to come on this wonderful desert beauty.

Thank you once again for your interest in what I am doing, it makes me so happy to meet and share with other herb loving folks!

Happy Herbal Adventures to you!

Danika.

That's Shadow, my wee little 'bobcat' (manx..) slinking in from the left to inhale the sweet herbal aroma of my tea.

It’s a crisp fresh and sunny spring morning outside today in the Okanagan. My boy’s are at the park and I am getting ready to dye eggs for my son and nephew to hunt later today. My herb garden is taking off with a rush of energy and I feel the frisky spring vibe all around.

I have been trying in vain to find a patch of wild nettles close to my home but so far I have found only a lone plant on the path of one of my favorite trails at Mill Creek, an abundant place of beauty where I often gather herbs here and there. I never harvest from my friend the lone nettle but I do go visit it from time to time. I’ll gather her seeds this fall so I can grow her offspring in my garden next year.

Needless to say I was feeling a little bummed out about the lack of fresh nettles in my life right now! Well yesterday morning we went off to the farmers market and I was so stoked to find one of the farmers selling bags of beautiful nettles. I bought them and asked if she had nettle seed, the farmer replied with a confused expression “They ARE weeds you know? If you plant them you will never be rid of them”  to which I replied with my hand on my heart “And I am perfectly o.k with that!” I’m sure she found this Kiwi girls antics to be quite amusing. What can I say? I love nettles.

In the evening I was wondering how I would enjoy my bag of precious nettles and given I have never made an infusion from fresh nettles I decided that was just what I would do with some of them. So I got some water boiling in the kettle and fetched my jar of marshmallow root. Nettles are a little drying so I always add a pinch or two of marshmallow root to my nettle infusions as I tend to be constitutionally dry and I live in a semi arid climate. It has a slightly sweet aroma and flavour and it’s mucilage is soothing on the mouth, stomach and mucous membranes. I find this really balances the astringency of nettles.

In my excitement I simply tore the leaves, added the marshmallow and filled my quart sized jar with just boiled water. The aroma hit me immediately, so fresh, herbaceous yet somewhat sweet and fruity from the mallow. I was in love, dried nettle infusions never smell this good!  Then I stepped back to admire the leaves floating around in the brew. Wait a minute. All those intact cell walls are inhibiting the water from extracting all the good stuff from my nettles. Oops. So I strained my brew, placed the nettles on my wooden chopping board and chopped away. Then it all went back into the jar. I really should know better than to skip steps. Tsk tsk. I set aside my infusion to brew overnight so I could enjoy it in the morning.

All was well again and I retired to the living room to hang out with my man and our friend that had stopped by for an evening visit. Barely an hour went by before I was back in the kitchen smelling the nettle and mallow brew. I just couldn’t wait all night to taste my first fresh nettle infusion so I went right ahead and poured myself a cup, stirred in half a teaspoon of local wild flower honey and sipped away. Amazing. Delicious. Slightly sweet and fruit like from the mallow and honey then perfectly rounded, full and slightly salty from the nettles. And the feeling, I felt that nettle buzz like never before! Fresh herb preparations truly are bursting with life and vitality that you just can’t get with dried herb. What a feeling.

My search for wild nettles continues and brings with it discoveries of catnip, marshmallow and cattails that I will go back for soon. But in the meantime I will have to keep visiting my farmers market for my next hit of fresh nettle infusion.

Glorious Green Spring Blessings to you!

Danika.

Poppy Swap

Have you heard of Poppy Swap yet?

Poppy Swap is an online herbal marketplace and community with a store, forum and interviews with great herbalists.

I urge you to check it out and browse around for yourself. It’s a real gem for the herbal community where you can buy, swap and sell natural handmade herbal products, discuss topics on the forum with other herbalists and connect with like minded folks.

What are you waiting for? Go take a look! I’m quite sure you will love it. 🙂

www.poppyswap.com

Spring time blessings to you all,

Danika.

Elderflower

Hello there! I’m back, finally! It’s been a month since I began composing this article and then life took me on a whirlwind tour of the unexpected and uncontrollable. I’ve been riding a roller coaster of emotion, both good and bad, pain and relief and it’s all been such an overwhelming distraction. I find myself feeling soothed to be sitting here writing about my heartfelt purpose, the goodness of learning and working with plants for medicine, food and beauty. As I write this I can smell my pot of elderberries and spices simmering gently into a tasty and healthful decoction that I will soon blend into a syrup. And that is the theme of today’s long awaited article… The Elderberry.

I love the elder tree. I love the way it looks, I love its dreamy, creamy blossom clusters and I adore the dark blue elderberries it so freely gives to those that know of its generous bounty. What could be more satisfying than seeking to find and work with such a giving plant that is steeped in a rich history of centuries old folklore, legend and medicine making ?

Back home in New Zealand, a few years back, I watched an interview on the local news about a girl who was going around the old Southland farms and sheep stations asking permission to harvest the blossoms and berries which she then crafted into elderflower and elderberry cordials. I had to try them for myself as I was so intrigued and what a delight they turned out to be. On a hot summers day nothing beats a tall glass of cold elderflower cordial blended with sparkling spring water.

The species of Elder that is native to my region: sambucus cerulea

Since then my relationship with the elder tree has deepened and grown as I learn more about this remarkable plant. I’ve recently learned of a species of elder that is native to the Montane Cordillera eco-zone I live in: Sambucus nigra ssp cerulea. I’ve heard it grows in the southern Okanagan so you can imagine my excitement! I’m eagerly awaiting the spring when I will go searching for its tell-tale blossom clusters in hopes of harvesting the flowers and later in the summer the berries as well, to dry and blend into remedies for my kitchen apothecary.

While I wait for winter to finish doing her thing I am happy to work with my stash of dried elderberries I purchased from Silk Road Tea and Herb Company. I also have a little packet of dried elderberries that came with my herbal medicine making kit from Learning Herbs so hey, let’s make a simple elderberry syrup! I’ve decided to make the recipe that came in my herbal medicine making kit, from Learning Herbs.com as it includes other herbs such as ginger and cinnamon, excellent allies in times of illness caused by cold and flu viruses.

Now as if you need a convincing reason to make and enjoy an elderberry syrup! But this is a somewhat educational blog for me and for you and writing about medicinal uses of plant helps me learn faster, so now, a little about the healing powers, myths and other uses of the wonderful elder…

The elderberry is traditionally used in the treatment of the flu virus. A common folk remedy blends elderberries with yarrow and peppermint and is used as a diaphoretic, that is to induce a sweat, at bedtime to help break a fever. This is a great example of herbs working with your body’s healing process to return to a balanced and whole state of being rather than the allopathic tradition of suppressing symptoms, a practice that I am at odds with as symptoms of illness are the body hard at work in healing mode. Not that I don’t wish to relieve the discomfort of illness when my son or husband or even my self gets sick, I just go about it in a way that supports healing function and a return to balanced health sooner. Anyways… Back to elderberries!  Traditional Herbalist Kiva Rose speaks highly of her experiences working with elder. She blends it into an elixir tonic not only as a remedy for influenza but also she has “found it useful in a variety of situations, especially chronic hyper or hypo immunity, extended illness and other depletion syndromes”. I should also note it has a tonic effect on the mucous membranes. Oh yes,  it tastes great too, what a bonus! That’s not always true of many medicinal herbs.

The branches of the elderberry have a soft core and are easily turned into whistles but be warned, the bark contains alkaloids one may find nauseating. No nibbling on elder whistles! The elder is also thought to be connected to the fairy world and according to Doreen Shababy, author of The Wild and Weedy Apothecary, there are several legends that tell of an Elder Mother inhabiting the tree and she rightly reminds her readers to be thankful for the bounty they harvest from her branches.

Have I peaked your interest yet? Want to learn how to make that elderberry syrup? Then read on my friend for its ready and cooling on my counter top and it could be in your kitchen apothecary too with a few ingredients and a little instruction so here we go!

How to make Elderberry Syrup:

Gathering the ingredients to make an elderberry syrup

You will need to gather your ingredients and equipment before you get started. For this recipe we will use:

1/2 cup of dried or 1 cup fresh blue elderberries, 5 cloves, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 tablespoon roughly grated or chopped ginger, 2 cups fresh filtered water and 1 cup unpasteurized wild flower honey.

Next pour the water into a medium size pot that has a lid. Add the elderberries…

Dried elderberries going in the pot

Then the cloves, cinnamon and ginger….

Adding the spices to the brew

Then cover the pot and bring to a boil.

Cover up for less energy waste!

Once it’s boiling reduce the heat and let your decoction simmer for about 20 minutes. You want it to reduce in volume by half.

Now it's boiling reduce the heat, cover and let simmer for 20-30 minutes

While it’s simmering let’s talk about honey… I feel the best honey to use for its medicinal qualities comes from bees that forage wild area’s away from monoculture, genetically modified crops and pollution. Actually I feel the best medicinal honey in the world is Manuka honey. It is the most potent honey out there for treating all kinds of ailments but in the interest of using what is available to you locally, go and support your local bee keeper. And make sure you buy unpasteurized honey. It is powerful yet delicate stuff and loses much of its useful qualities when heated. I’m using organic wild flower honey from Armstrong, right here in the Okanagan. It’s cold today so you will notice my honey is a little grainy but that’s alright, it will dissolve into the decoction just fine.

Wild flower honey from the Okanagan

Now the decoction is reduced by half so I strain it through a fine mesh strainer into a glass bowl…And use a spoon to press all the juice out of the berries.Now it’s time to add the honey…

Mmmm... honey!

And stir until the honey has completely dissolved.Now it’s ready to be poured into a sterile glass storage vessel. I’m using a re-purposed Grolsch beer bottle as they have rubber stoppers on top. I actually buy them just so I can have the bottles for home-made syrups and sauces but it’s kind of fun emptying them of their original contents with my hubby…

Use a funnel if your going to pour your syrup into a bottle for storage, it helps prevent wasting your precious syrup by spilling.

Now just let it cool down before you seal it. You could make a cool label while you wait.

That’s it! You just learned how to make elderberry syrup at home for a fraction of the cost of a bottle of store bought elder extract pills that probably don’t do much anyways. Make sure you store your syrup in the fridge. It will keep for a couple of weeks. Give a tablespoonful a day to your family during the cold and flu season as a preventative measure. I’ll probably be serving mine over vanilla bean ice cream and yoghurt too. You’ll see. It’s tastes awesome.

I hope you try this for yourself, it really is worth it. For more elderberry recipes check out Putting Up With The Turnbulls blog site for their Elderberry Maple Syrup. You can also make jams and jellies with the fresh berries but that will be an article for another day when I have a glut of them in my kitchen to be dealt with. I really hope the wait was worth it and I look forward to sharing more of my herbal adventures with you all as Spring is about to arrive and with her all the good green herbs I have been so impatiently waiting for. 🙂

Happy herbal adventures,

Danika.

The Okanagan Sunflower, balsamorhiza sagittata. Picture from Wikipedia.

Kia Ora!

I just wanted to share that I have put up a link  going to the Evergreen Native Plant Database website. It’s under Cool Herbal Links.

It’s an excellent resource for the budding botanist and all herb lovers and wildcrafters need a good botanical reference. I was stoked when I came across it and have used it many times already. It also has great info on growing native plant gardens, something I did extensively for a while in NZ, regenerating area’s in parks and shorelines using New Zealand native plants, naturally. 🙂

I’ll have a great article on Edlerberries up real soon, with step by step pics on making an elderberry syrup and maybe some other yummy recipes.

Until then, happy herbal adventures,

Danika.

Comfrey and Wild Rose

I just found this list of some of the best herbal blogs on Fireweed Meadow’s blog.  What a great reference for all of us herb lovers. Thank you Fireweed!

http://pharmacytechniciancertification.net/50-best-blogs-to-learn-about-herbalism/

I will be writing an article on making Elderberry syrup soon. A delicious remedy for the cold and flu season that works! The best part is you can use dried Elderberries, very practical for this time of year.

Herbal blessings,

Danika.

The Wild Rose (that later became part of a wild rose oil infusion) A fitting symbol as I become a student of my mentor, Kiva Rose Hardin.

Hello friends!

I have wonderful news and I just have to share with you… I’ve just been accepted into the Traditional Western Herbalist training program “From the Ground Up” taught by Kiva Rose Hardin. I’m over the Moon and dangling in the stars right now! 😀

It will be a challenge creating and keeping the necessary life balance to achieve my goals but nothing worth having is easy to get now is it? I am ready for the challenge and I rise up to meet it.

I will be sure to share my learning curves with you all as I take my home herbalism further and deeper than ever before and transform myself into a practicing traditional herbalist. This is super exciting stuff for me!

If anyone reading this has been feeling that herb bug bite too and wants to take it to the next level I’d love to recommend Anima Lifeways & Herbal School. They work on a sliding scale donation basis so there is no need for unaffordable fees to keep you from the path you desire to follow, if that is what you truly want and are dedicated and focused. I have put a link up under ‘Cool Herbal Links’.

I’m off to get my home life organized and work out a balanced schedule for my family so I can get started on my study. Wish me luck!

Blessings to you all,

Danika.

I tend to let the homebody side of my nature have its way during winter preferring to stay near my home on the hill and taking the time to indulge in practical pleasures with my family and on my own. What better time to study books and online herbal courses and brush up on home herbal medicine making?

The Herbal Medicine Making Kit from Learning Herbs

I recently received a herbal medicine making kit from the online business and education site Learning Herbs. LearningHerbs.com was created by John and Kimberly Gallagher down in Washington and is a wonderful resource for the budding and experienced herbalist alike where you can find awesome herbal recipes, subscribe to cool newsletters and become part of a wider herbal community. Any time I’ve bought something from them I always get loads of great free stuff like e-books, wall charts and mini courses. Through Learning Herbs I was able to take part in an amazing course called Herb Energetics with the New Mexico herbalist Kiva Rose.  I have to say it has changed the way I learn about herbs for ever. I can’t recommend Learning Herbs and its sister site Herb Mentor enough!  Herb Mentor is just that, a mentoring site for herbal enthusiasts that you can subscribe to for a minimal monthly fee.  If you’re pursuing a herbal education of any kind, home study or otherwise, its well worth it for all the lessons and resources.  I’ve put up links for any who are interested in finding out more about these excellent herbal sites.

Today I’m going to share some home herbal medicine making methods.

I’m going to make the healing herbal salve from my wonderful herbal medicine making kit and show you how simple and fun it is to make herbal oil infusions and turn them into salves for your own herbal first aid kit or diaper bag. With the exception of olive oil everything I need to make a healing herbal salve came in my kit  including glass jars and tins to store it in and cool labels.

Adding the dried herb blend to the olive oil

The first thing I had to do was get the herbs infusing in olive oil. I received 1 once by weight of dried herb blend in my kit and I used exactly 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil to infuse it in.  The recipe in my kit uses a bain marie set up to infuse the herbs using gentle heat. It also says you can use direct heat, warming the oil and herbs in a pot right on the stove as long as it’s really low heat. I’ve tried that once in the past and found it very difficult to control the temperature of the oil and it quickly raised above 40 Celsius, scorching the herbs and overheating the oil. I don’t recommend that method but that’s just my opinion and your stove might be better at maintaining a low and steady heat. I make herbal oil infusions often for use in baby bottom salve, baby massage oil and in my skin care recipes. I generally use a cold infusion process with fresh or partially dried herbs that I have gathered myself and then leave the herbs in oil for 6 weeks or more to fully infuse the herbal goodness but I have never used a  bain marie set up and I’m eager to try it out for myself. Its a great way to make herbal oils with dried herbs any time of year and you don’t have to wait 6 weeks!

Stirring the herbs into the warm oil

Infusing healing herbs in olive oil

After infusing the herbs for an hour the oil is ready to be strained. I’m using a kitchen strainer lined with cheese cloth.

I like to squeeze the herbal oil through a few layers of cheesecloth to get all the herbal goodness out of it

Now I set aside the oil and using a clean and dry bowl I melt the 1 ounce brick of beeswax in my bain marie set up.

Melting the beeswax

Now the beeswax is melted I check how much oil I have and top it up to exactly 1 cup. Then I pour it into the melted beeswax.

Pouring the herbal oil into the melted beeswax

See how the wax somewhat solidifies once I pour in the cooler oil? That’s quite normal and the wax remelts into the oil within a few minutes over the simmering water in my pot.

The cooler oil semi-solidifies the beeswax for a moment.

Now my blend is ready to be poured into the prepared jars and tins.

Once the jars are full I add lavender essential oil to the salve while it’s still fluid.

Now the salve gets left to cool and harden then I put on the lids and labels. That’s it! That’s all you need to do to make a healing herbal salve.

The finished salve in jars and tins with my echinaecea tincture brewing in the background

You can use many different herbs to make a healing salve depending on the healing qualities you want it to have. In this salve the herb blend contains Comfrey, Calendula, Plantain and St Johns Wort. By adding Lavender essential oil I also get the cooling, healing benefits of lavender in my salve.

Well that’s all for now.  I hope I’ve inspired you to try this out for yourself!  I’m going to leave you with an inspiring quote from the new Plant Healer e-zine created by traditional western herbalist Kiva Rose and her life and business partner, Jesse Wolf Hardin…

“Too much emphasis is placed on the exotic. Most of the medicine we need is native, flourishes in our yards and lots, grows at our very feet… and many of the wonders of this world are always within sight”

Jesse Wolf Hardin.

Happy New Year!

I hope its a wild and weedy year full of awesome herbal adventures for all who love to seek plant knowledge. I’ll be posting an article on making healing herbal salves shortly. Stay tuned!

Danika.

Wild strawberries at McCulloch Lake

My name is Danika.

I’m a Kiwi living in the Okanagan of British Columbia. I’ve always loved and treasured the native New Zealand plants I grew up with and now I live in Canada I want to become just as acquainted with my new local plant neighbours. Even more so as I embark on a journey of self discovery and learning all I can about traditional plant medicine’s, wild foods and herb craft for health and beauty.

I’ve been hand crafting all natural herbal skin care for over a year now and that is how my love for wild crafting really began. I became a vendor at my local market and was so happy to meet new people that love herbs and natural living as much as I do.

Now I can’t stop! I just have to know more and I hope to share my experiences, recipes and photos with other herb loving folks out there in the world wide web.

And if you know something interesting and cool about an edible, medicinal or just plain awesome native BC or Canadian plant please share! I would love to hear your stories too.

Happy herbal adventures,

Danika.