Category Archives: herbal recipes

the perfect is the enemy of the good

English: Photo of Bee Balm Plant (Monarda)

It has taken me so long to plant my little garden here.  There was far too much information coursing through my mind—ecotones and hedges, guilds, layered food forests, medicinal companion plants, swales and ponds and microclimates.  I would gaze out at the muddy clay of this unfamiliar soil and feel too overwhelmed to start.

Or, more truthfully, too fearful of making a mistake.  Of not building a garden complex enough, beautiful enough, after all of these years of landscape design and permaculture  training.  Garden after garden that I’ve designed, labored over, loved, and left behind.  After a while it hurts.  So I built no garden here.

But somewhere I read this, or heard this—I forget now where— “the perfect is the enemy of the good.”  And I realized that I was doing what I have done far too often in my life, letting my desire for perfection inhibit me from acting at all. Continue reading



April 13, 2013 · 12:50 am

where we touch earth

Healthy feet of an 11-year-old girl who regula...

I’ve been musing lately over the relationship between our treatment of our bodies and our treatment of the earth. For many of us, our bodies are the only animal we have close contact with each day; they become our exposure to the natural world, the  only wild landscape we inhabit.

Yet think of our bodies:  we work them, groom them, put chemicals on them; we sanitize them, remove some parts, and inject foreign substances into others.  If we take the time to think of them, it is with frustration or dislike.

If there is a locus point for this analogy, it is the soles of the feet–where we touch earth.  I love the biblical story of Martha and Mary.  As Martha bustled around, righteously busy, Mary ignored what I imagine was a lot of passive-aggressive sighing and carrying on, and focused on sensuously bathing Jesus’s feet.  When Martha complained, Jesus stuck up for Mary, essentially stating “she’s got her priorities straight!”

When we really think about it, where has all of our righteous busy work gotten us? Would we not be better served to slow down and bathe the feet of those we love, tend the places of connection, honor the hard work of these bodies, these landscapes?

I’ve been building gardens lately, spreading compost and decomposed leaves and layering bark into pathways.  I take great pleasure in doing this work barefoot, the warming soil of spring beneath my feet.  At the end of the day it is hard to tell where the earth ends and my feet begin.  Last night, after dancing contra barefoot, I returned home and set the water on to boil.  I scooped a little sea salt and honey into an empty lemon peel, then used the peel to carefully scrub the soles of my feet.  When the water boiled I poured it into a mason jar filled with fresh rosemary, let it steep, then added it to a basin of warm water and slipped my salt-and-honey-coated feet in.  I sat there for several minutes, letting the rosemary tea work its magic, feeling so grateful.  For everything.


This is a recipe I have used with great effect in my workshops; tending people’s feet tends to bring them right into a state of receptive openness for whatever comes next.  To tend your feet or those of a loved one, here’s what you’ll need:

-Mason jar filled with fresh rosemary, lavender, calendula, or rose petals (dried is fine; you’ll need about 1/2 cup)

-Boiling water

Pour the water over your herbs and leave to steep for several minutes. Strain, and add this strong tea to a basin of warm water.  Add a tablespoon or so of baking soda for especially tough callouses, and a few drops of essential oil if you like (rosemary and lavender are both wonderful.)  Have a towel ready near the basin.

-empty half of a citrus peel

-2 tbsp. dead sea salts

-1 tbsp. raw honey

Place the honey and salt in the cup of the peel; use it as a washcloth to gently exfoliate the skin of your feet over the basin of tea.  Place your feet in the basin and continue to wash them with the citrus peel.  Relax.


April 8, 2013 · 2:20 am

tea for cold prevention

A Kerr mason jarEnglish: Ripe crabapple covered in icy glaze d...English: This is a picture of smaller branches...

it’s been quite a week around here–first mama nature threw us a one-two punch of freezing rain followed by freakishly summery weather, and then everyone around me began succumbing to variations of fever, flu, and pneumonia.

(favorite conversation of the year, tangentially:

me: my head really hurts.  i think it’s all the temperature fluctuations.

friend: headaches are usually a symptom of repressed guilt.

me: i’m pretty sure it’s the temperature fluctuations.

friend: it’s repressed guilt.

me: it’s global warming.

friend: it’s repressed guilt about global warming. )

For a while I tossed down my elderberry tincture (thanks, Michelle Wilde!) and drank my kombucha and nettle/hawthorn/red clover infusion and I was fine. But after two days of tending sick offspring, my throat started to tickle. And then I woke up sounding like Brigitte Bardot.

When we lived in California, there was a lemon tree in the backyard that, due to wonderful positioning against a south-facing wall and the location of the compost pile on its dripline, produced ALL YEAR LONG.  And in those golden days, when I got that old tickly-throat-brigitte-bardot feeling, I would climb for a few lemons and brew up a pot of lemon-garlicraw honey tea.

But lemons don’t grow in this bioregion. So I’ve been experimenting, and here’s what I’ve come up with for an antibiotic/diaphoretic/antimicrobial/vitamin-c-boosting powerhouse of a stop-the-cold-now tea: Continue reading

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February 28, 2013 · 2:05 am

making your own herbal foot soaks

making your own herbal foot soaks

Foot soaks are an undersung, glorious pleasure. Formulated with ginger and mustard, they can help stave off a cold. Formulated with lavender and kava kava oil, they can soothe and unwind. With rose petals, cocoa butter, and honey, they set the stage for a delightfully frisky evening. Continue reading

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February 26, 2013 · 7:44 pm

the one herb i’d never be without.

Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioicea) is a miracle herb.

It embodies the permaculture principle “the problem is the solution”: nettle juice heals its own sting.  Taking a few minutes to contemplate that can unleash a lot of insight. Continue reading


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