What will the New Year bring to you? Are you one of those people that make a laundry list of resolutions, in hopes of knocking at least one of them out of the ballpark? Don't lie! Weight loss, right? Travel? For me, my list of goals for 2018 was short. MORE SEX! Whatever! If you are a prude, you may have stumbled on your worst possible blog nightmare. I spent the better part of my 20's trying to devise a course of action to disguise my "course of action" so that my oldest root wouldn't suspect a thing. I must have done a pretty good job of "paying bills" because along came the middle root not long after my 1 year wedding anniversary. When I say that I didn't skip a beat when the middle arrived, I mean I literally DID NOT skip a beat, or an opportunity to seize the moment and burn up some sheets... Or the backseat of my husband's pick up, whatever the circumstances called for at the time. Again, it was clearly not an issue, until the tiny root arrived. The tiny root brought with her the temper of a redhead and a serious "fuck all" attitude to say the least. When I brought my beautiful little root home, I couldn't get enough of her. My life was literally complete. Until it wasn't. I have always been a fan of cosleeping with my littles. Addison was an only child of a single mom for many years before I was married and 11 years before a sibling. The evenings for us were our own little snuggle fest, and even when the middle arrived, we set aside one day of the week (Thursday to be exact) that the husband would ride the couch and we would snuggle. I LOVED it! When the tiny arrived, I wondered how the sleeping arrangement would work out. She didn't love to sleep in the crib, and at this point in life, I was older, wiser, and fucking TIRED as well. As I said before, I loved to cosleep, but for the entire course of my marriage, I had only ever had the one night a week that I shared our bed with our children. This minor detail would be overlooked in my decision to put the tiny root in bed with me, an oversight that I would soon regret once the warm snuggles wore off and my hot sex fizzled out. As I said before, the tiny root was 1 year old by the time I finally gave up and pulled the plug on the crib and opted for a cosleeping journey. What was once a bedroom with happy memories of marital bliss, quickly became sweet baby snuggles along with a Frankenstein set up where I pushed a twin size bed beside our queen size bed. Now here is the real shit show of it all. The husband slept in the twin bed while the baby snuggles happened in the queen bed. I didn't see it then, but I had literally ousted the man in my life and exiled him to a life of a teenage boy at best, forever to sleep in a twin bed. Some life. Well, at first it was okay. We made do, and the fact that we now had a sound sleeper held some weight at least, and we would often make the laundry room our best friend. Until the laundry piled up, which now was beginning to happen quite often with an extra child to clothe, let alone one that adores being dirty. By the time we reached the 6-month mark of cosleeping every night, things started to shift. The love was and is still very much alive, but the connection was wavering. Sex became a task, or at least the time and place was a task, and the fact that any part of something that amazing was a task just pissed me off. It is a well-known character trait of mine that anything that becomes a "task", I begin to eliminate it from my life. If I don't like something, I change it, and if I can't change it in a relatively quick fashion, I quit! That is exactly what I did once sex became a task. For the last year and a half, I have sat idly by while my intimate life went down the tubes and while we still made time for each other, it just wasn't the same. When we were together and sex wasn't even on the table, we were forever distracted by other things. We would start a movie with the intention to watch it together, but we never did. Our phones would come out and we would find ourselves more involved with what was going on with everyone else and ignore each other completely. How in the world did I get here? How can someone who is driven by the need to be connected with someone in every way slip so far into this black hole? It's called parenthood! With that being said, I knew that I was in need of a lifeline. I wasn't sure if I needed to send out an APB for my lost mojo or what needed to happen, but it was becoming a hard pill to swallow, to say the least. On the eve of the New Year, we spent the evening with friends. The entire house was buzzing with laughter, games, and children. It was literally magical. We played games and told stories all night, and it was definitely one for the books. All evening long I would glance over at my husband and I would get just as giddy as the day I met him. His smile, his laugh, and his god awful jokes that only he laughs at, but every time I felt that happy school girl attraction, it was quickly crushed by the reminder that even if I wanted to have a healthy dose of adult interaction, it was going to have to take place in the twin bed that was currently in her room where we hoped she would one day sleep (weird) or on the couch where we would most likely be caught with our pants down (literally) by our middle root who is a serious night owl. Needless to say, I drank the night away and instead of going to bed with my favorite crooked overbite with a banging ass beard, I went to bed with a champagne headache and a snoring toddler. FUCK MY LIFE! How can this be? I had already told the husband that whatever you do when you ring in the New Year was what you will do all year long, and now it was abundantly clear that I had plagued myself with 365 days of oreo balls and cheap champagne. Lucky for me I had 24 hours to make things right, and while I had PLENTY of plans for lying down, it would not be in defeat. I spent all day organizing toys and trying to turn what had become a playroom of sorts into what would soon be a bedroom. I texted friends for advice, I asked them to keep my sex life in their thoughts and to send some positive juju in my direction. I'm sure it's safe to say, they didn't want or need that mental picture, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and I wasn't about to suffer alone. Lucky for me, my bestie has been with me through the whole cosleeping journey and had lots of advice. The last piece of advice to me was that "if she isn't ready, you won't be either". I let that roll around in my head for the rest of the day and into the evening. I was ready! Are you kidding me? Of course I was ready! I am ready, right? As bedtime approached, I hung out with the tiny root in her "big girl" room, on her "big girl" bed and read "big girl" books. When she started to get sleepy, I began to get nervous. Would I just rock her and lay her down or would she fall asleep in here? While I was pondering what my approach would be, my sweet tiny root looked up at me and said: "I sweep in my bed". I froze for a moment because it wasn't a question. It was a statement. She was telling me exactly what I needed to hear. The positive juju had actually reached me! She was ready, I was ready, and my marriage was SO ready. I turned out her lights and she drifted off to sleep. It wasn't going to be a night of wild sex for me, but what it is is a chance to start piecing things back together and rebuild a bond with my bearded fella that was lost in the shuffle a bit. As luck would have it, she was ready just in the nick of time. Today the Frankenstein bed was transformed back into our marital bed once again. For the first time in two years, I will snuggle with my husband tonight instead of a 3-year-old. I promise to not complain about him being on my side or wanting to kiss me first thing in the morning. I'll let him steal my pillow from time to time, and I'll even let him spoon me from time to time. Here's to new beginnings, new memories, rekindling flames, and burning them to the fucking ground! Live, Love, and Grow Roots.
Putting up our Christmas Tree is one of my favorite family traditions every year. Typically it comes with baked goods, sausage balls, and punch while a Chrismas movie is playing. Last year, the tiny root was 2 and decided that the tree would be best displayed in a horizontal position on the floor. Try as I might to instill at an early age that horizontal positioning both on your body and on the floor (until you are out of my house) is not at all flattering, she begged to differ and snatched our tree over, tearing it to smithereens along with most of our ornaments. Boooohooooo. Can someone hand me a hanky? Thanks. When Thanksgiving rolled around, I had decided that despite my husband's proclamation of being deathly allergic to living Christmas Trees, I would take my chances, stock up on Claritin and roll the dice on it. My goal was to create a lovely tree with ornaments that were made by the hands of artists that I admire and mix together my love for tradition and Earthly goodness, and that is exactly what I did! LOAD UP, Griswalds, it's about to get festive.
One of my favorite places to go in our little town is a place by the name of Dunkin's Market. Every Christmas they have a great selection of live trees, that of which, until this year, I have coveted from afar, but with ratchet straps and kids in tow, I wheeled in there like my hair was on fire, and within 30 minutes time, the heavens shed light on the perfect Festivus Tree to fit our available space. We made it home safely with the tree, and the roots couldn't have been happier. The husband was such a good sport. He brought it inside the house and didn't even take allergy medicine OR put on a respirator first. I'm guessing that might be due in part to the fact that I would most definitely take photos and post them for all the world to see. The next step in erecting the Rickman Family Tree is placing the tree into the stand. This is the point at which I am starting to question everything I have ever known to be true about Christmas trees bringing joy. In a matter of minutes, I am teleported back to my childhood. I am quickly reminded of the first time I ever recall hearing the word "FUCK!" used, and just as quick as I was in that moment, I am snapped back to the present moment when I hear "Jess! Is it straight?". I take a few steps back and examine the tree that is taking a hard left, and I suggest a bit of an adjustment. The suggestion is met with several sighs and after a mirage of four-letter words, he asks again for a determination as to whether the tree is straight. Despite what looks like an MJ Smooth Criminal gravity-defying lean, I nod. Perfection achieved.
When it was time to decorate the tree, I had very little to work with considering the great tree fiasco of 2016 which claimed the lives of many cherished ornaments. Lucky for me, I had planned ahead by dehydrating orange slices and turned them into beautiful pieces of stained glass looking fruit ornaments. I couldn't be happier with how these ornaments turned out.
I have been told that these dehydrated beauties will last for years, but while that has yet to be determined by me, I can tell you that I would do this year after year if I had to. I love it just that much. I also had Jane from Sweet Jane Co. send me a couple of these beautiful agate ornaments, and let me just tell you, when the light shines through them, it's stunning. Pictures do not do these justice. There is something about the solidarity of the stone along with the fluidity of the water element that creates this amazing earthy feel.
Another thing that I wanted to add to our tree is a Southern tradition that I would love to see carried on in younger generations but it seems to be a dying art. When I stumbled upon Wyman's Workroom , I had no idea the magical experience that I was in for. He was a lovely man who is full of life and wise words, and along with his love of whittling, I knew this was exactly what I was looking for. I am a bit of a sucker for gnomes and tree sprites, so needless to say, I selected a set of sprites as well as a Santa and a bird for my tree.
Despite having lost so many cherished ornaments last year, our mission to create a beautiful Christmas tree gave way to the creation of so much more than that. Memories. Live, Love, and Grow Roots.
With the holidays in sight and Christmas lists submitted to the appropriate recipients, I'm certain that my roots aren't the only ones that are scampering around like they have eaten a mound of Pixie Sticks. We have decorated the tree, put up stockings, placed a couple of outdoor decorations that may or may not be the eyesore of our neighborhood, but for me, it's all about what adds magic in the hearts of my littles and puts them in the Christmas Spirit of giving to those we love. As we get older and families grow in size, I know for us and many of our friends, we have scaled down to only giving gifts to the children of the family. Unfortunately, for some that have pets instead of human roots by choice or by circumstance, they are left out of the receiving of gifts. It goes without saying that Christmas isn't about receiving gifts, but you have to admit that when the scales are incredibly unbalanced, it doesn't necessarily leave everyone feeling the love, right? The purpose of this post is to remind people that when a family member has animal children instead of the human kind, be sure to include them on your shopping list and to also show you a couple of cute gift ideas with pets in mind. They are just as loved and just as much the center of their universe.
Before we get started on the gift ideas, I want to introduce my two nieces who are dear to my heart. My sister and brother in law have two children by the name of Jane and Annie Whore Cat. Don't Judge! She was a pregnant stray that they took in, and after finding wonderful homes for her kittens, Annie remained a staple in the home. Low maintenance and a serious Fuck All attitude, Annie is the epitome of "Pet me. Now, piss off!". Jane is...well, perfection. She's incredibly soft, listens better than most humans, she loves carrots, and when she gets excited, she does what we all refer to as "Bucking Bronco".
Aren't they spectacular? Okay, okay, I'm moving on.
Sometimes it can be difficult to decide what to purchase for animal babies. Like humans, some of them have allergies to certain foods and treats, and some are either not really into toys, or they eat them entirely. What is good for one, is certainly not good for another. I am including several different items that aren't specific to dogs and cats. We personally have a dog named Bruce, a Bearded Dragon named Brad, and a pet chicken named Whitney Houston (Baby). My pets will be modeling in a couple of the gift ideas, so I would like to add that Bruce is not the most photogenic animal on the planet. In fact, if you ever watched the episode of Friends where Chandler and Monica are trying to have their picture made and Chandler can't seem to smile without grimacing, that is Bruce in a nutshell. Unlike his canine counterpart, Brad loves to play dress up, so modeling was totally in his wheelhouse. You can thank me later for that.
The first item I would like to show you is a personalized dog treat container from Susabella. It's absolutely adorable and is sure to be something that any dog owner would be happy to have in their home. They have different sizes available and can be purchased both directly from their website as well as their Etsy store. Take some time to look around at all the amazing things they offer. From Christmas ornaments to food bowls and water dishes, the only thing standing in your way is the ability to choose just one.
The next item I have comes to you from The Landlocked Dog. I stumbled upon these adorable pet ID tags and immediately fell in love. While our pets are indoor pets, there is always that small chance that a mishap could occur and they slip out of their leash, or God forbid dart out of the house to chase something. Every pet should wear an ID tag because every parent knows that no matter how great of a listener your child may be, there is always that one time that they don't. Giving a pet a voice to tell people who they are and where to call to return them safely to their owner seems like a no-brainer to me, and the tags at The Landlocked Dog are definitely more jewelry than just an ordinary tag. These tags aren't just for cats and dogs. If your pet can wear a collar, they can wear a tag, so look around and find the right one for your baby.
I realize reptiles aren't everyone's cup of tea, but I can't do a post without including our Brad. I have learned after adding Brad to our family, that there are many families that enjoy the company of reptiles and specifically Bearded Dragons. Brad is a funny guy. Bearded Dragons are very low maintenance and will love you just as any other pet would. When I was looking for a gift for reptile lovers, I found not one, but two items, both of which were home runs for Brad. The first one comes from Mother of Dragons Hammocks & Accessories. All dragons love to bask in the warmth of their heat lamps and while he was totally satisfied with his log to perch on, I knew a hammock would be much more comfortable. When it arrived, it was amazing. Brad loved it, it's easy to wash, and its super soft and padded for comfort. It was easy to suction to the tank, and he spends 80% of his day in the comfort of his hammock. If you are a Bearded Dragon owner, I would RUN over to Mother of Dragons and pick one. Anne has amazing taste in fabric patterns so you will certainly find something to add a little happiness to the tank.
As I said before, Brad LOVES to play dress up. With David Crockett State Park being local to us and our town being the home of David Crockett himself, when I found this outfit for Brad, I almost croaked. I would have never guessed as a new Dragon owner that someone out there actually made costumes for them. Who knew, right? Before you head over to Pampered Beardies, be prepared for the most adorably hilarious dress up clothing you have ever seen. I put this outfit on Brad and he strutted around like he knew just how amazing he looked. Next summer when our annual David Crockett Days comes around, I will have Brad on a leash and sporting his DC attire. If you have a family member or friend with a Bearded Dragon, head over to Pampered Beardies and give them the gift of "the strut".
Remember earlier when I said that my Bruce wasn't very photogenic? Remember the Friends episode reference? Okay, well, let's revisit that as I bring you the last item on my gift ideas list. My Bruce loves nothing better than to play fetch. The biggest problem we run into is that he is still in the puppy phase, and every rubber ball he would get would quickly meet its demise when he sunk his little puppy teeth into it. This ball from Amanda Lynn Crochet is Bruce's go-to ball for play fetch. It's easy for him to pick up, and when he grabs it, it doesn't pop! This is a fabulous idea for dogs and is also available in a small size that I'm sure would be just as entertaining for cats as well. Amanda is great to work with and very prompt in response time, which, in my opinion, is running low in most big-box retail stores these days. Now, I want to share with you the photos that I attempted to take of Bruce with his ball. I would like to add that I DID NOT have the flash on. He was deliberately "Chandler Bing-ing" the photos because he was pissy that I wanted him to leave the ball alone just long enough for the photos. Enjoy!
I hope that this post was not only entertaining but also brings home the deep love that pet owners have for their children. Roots can come in all shapes and sizes, all breeds and backgrounds. It's our job as a family to honor each and every one that helps us grow into what makes us who we are. Don't forget to honor those who may have a different lifestyle than you, because while it may be something different from what you have chosen, the love that circles their home is all the same. Live, Love, and Grow Roots.
I'm late! I'm late! To a VERY important date! I've never been one to find myself punctually challenged, but with the Thanksgiving holiday having snuck up on me and bitten me in the behind, here we are. Unfortunately, I can't find it in my heart to apologize because my sister was here from Georgia, and I hadn't seen her in a year. To say that Georgia was on my mind was an understatement, to say the least. It was also time to celebrate the tiny root's 3rd birthday, and I had some preparing to do. So, while I regret having not brought this post to you sooner, their presence in my home and spending time with family was super important. You understand right? I knew you would. For this week's post, I am bringing you a synergy blend from the Eden's Garden OK For Kids line.
I want to give you a quick synopsis of how Eden's Garden helped us in our HUGE time of need. A year and a half or so ago, our middle root came down with a headache that lasted for a number of days and ended with us taking a trip to the emergency room. What started as a minor headache evolved into a full-blown migraine, complete with light sensitivity, nausea, and that certain thing that follows nausea, but I never say out loud or even write about because it's the one time that as a parent, I completely check out. Let's just say, it rhymes with Haley's COMET. Moving on. Anywho, after lots and lots of food and activity logs, we determined that he had a major sensitivity to food coloring. We all know that food coloring is in so so many dishes and packaged foods, but over time, I have learned exactly what to look for. Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try to educate ourselves and the middle root on what he can and cannot consume, inevitably from time to time, it creeps in and we find ourselves in a situation that requires a quick call to action, which is where Head-A-Sore-Us by Eden's Garden comes in. After migraines became part of our life, we would know that they were coming and do our best to soothe him, but ultimately it would end in disaster. Ibuprofen was the last resort and didn't work, Tylenol wasn't an option for us, and stronger pain medication wasn't something I wanted to entertain if I could find another way. I had tried the classic peppermint oil and several other combinations, but for one reason or another, it just wasn't helping. I personally find that, like many conventional remedies, it's not always a "one size fits all" situation, and this was certainly the case with the situation at hand. As a final Hail Mary attempt at a natural remedy, I got online and ordered Head-A-Sore-Us. I can't tell you how many times I have since then allowed my mind to wander and think of what we would have done had I not given it one more last ditch effort and found this particular blend. It has without a doubt been a game changer for us. As a mother, and I'm sure I'm not alone here, I am very in tune with the look, sound, smell, and behavior of my children. I know that when the middle root begins to squint his eyes when entering a well-lit room or gets a bit dark under the eyes, soon it will be followed by him saying his head hurts. Before it gets too bad, I grab my bottle of Head-A-Sore-Us and I put it in his personal diffuser as well as the household diffusers in common areas of the home. I then take my bottle of Head-A-Sore-Us mixed with coconut oil and I apply it behind his ears and massage it down his neck. For reason's unknown to me, none of the mixtures of oils I had tried before Head -A-Sore-Us were any match for what was coming down the pike, but now, when I catch it early, it literally stops it before it evolves into a migraine and..well...COMET.
So what is in Head-A-Sore-Us? Let's get down to the meat and potatoes of it all.
- Frankincense- This is one that wasn't even on my radar. Typically used for wounds, inflammation, bronchitis, coughs, fevers, nervous conditions, and tension, Frankincense has maintained a revered status for centuries. Perhaps it's the ability to fight inflammation combined with the ability to relieve tension that makes Frankencense one of the triple threat oils in this blend so effective.
- Lavender- It goes without saying that Lavender is the staple oil in any home whether they are a newbie or a seasoned essential oil user. Among a myriad of other things, Lavender has the ability to relieve inflammation and nausea, thus preventing a possible COMET situation.
- Chamomile- This oil was one that I tried on its own, as it is often used alone in the treatment of migraine pain. Chamomile is great for relaxation and anyone who has suffered from even a minor headache knows that sleeping it off is often one of the quickest ways to get relief, however, it's often hard to relax when pain is a factor.
As I said before, this blend was critical in our treatment of middle root's migraines. The truth is, no matter how much we teach them, there will be a time that you aren't there to monitor everything they put in their body. For so long, I was a nervous wreck when the middle root would go to birthday parties, sleepovers, or even when he was at the ballpark and kids in the dugout were passing out gum. Now, if there is a misstep, we have something to help us make it better for him. Eden's Garden has a complete line of OK For Kids oil blends, and the ones I have used are great. It takes the guesswork out of trying to determine which oils are safe for use in children. As I said in previous posts, I'm not a doctor. What I am is a mother who wants the best for her roots and their long-term health. We are in no way against the use of modern medicine when necessary, and it's always a personal choice as to when you need to pull the plug and seek medical attention. I'm lucky to have a very close relationship with our pediatrician and he is steadfast in his trust for me as a parent and where my gut feeling leads us. A special thank you to Dr. Robert Pappas and Sylla Sheppard-Hanger for their expertise in formulating blends that are safe for tiny roots everywhere. I hope this helps other parents who have tried other oil alternatives and have yet to find the blend that works for them. Don't give up, follow your gut, and don't forget to Live, Love, and Grow Roots.
We meet again. Last week I had an amazing time answering questions and emails about the featured synergy blend Gal Pal from Eden's Garden. The response was overwhelming and I couldn't be happier to continue on this 4-week journey with everyone. As some of you may know, this past weekend I went on a girls trip with my bestie to the great state of Michigan. If you missed out on our adventure, you can catch up here, but the moral of the story in relation to this weeks featured synergy blend is the fact that when we left Tennessee, it was a sunny 55 degrees, but by the time we made it to our destination, it was 19 degrees and windy. With the sudden shift in temperature and the wood heat from the cabin, I not only brought amazing memories back to Tennessee but also a stuffy nose. Lucky for me, my home was already equipped with what I consider to be one of the most vital essential oil synergy blends to have in your arsenal, Fighting Five.
I use Fighting Five in my home diffuser year round, and when cold and allergy related issues are at their peak, I mix it with a carrier oil (coconut) and rub it on the bottom of our feet before bedtime. Its ability to combat airborne bacteria is vital for cold and flu season, and during the Spring when environmental allergies are at their peak in our home, we want to try our best to keep the sneezing fits from turning into a respiratory infection. This particular blend consists of all your essential oil heavy hitters. With the combination of Lemon, Cinnamon Leaf, Moroccan Rosemary, Clove Bud, Eucalyptus Globulus, and Eucalyptus Radiata, Fighting Five will not only keep your immune system in tip-top shape, but will keep you feeling like the powerhouse you are. By now you probably know the drill, so let's get into what makes this weeks synergy blend amazing.
- Lemon- Lemon essential oil is a great for respiratory issues, acting as a phenomenal decongestant. The aroma of Lemon is uplifting to the spirit which is half the battle when you aren't feeling your best. When added to vinegar and water, Lemon Essential oil makes a fantastic addition to your cleaning regimen.
- Cinnamon Leaf- Cinnamon Leaf oil has been used for centuries for the treatment of digestive, circulatory, and immune system deficiency related problems. It has anesthetic, antiseptic, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, making it a germ fighting superhero.
- Moroccan Rosemary - Rosemary oil is a warming oil which makes it great for cold and flu season. It helps to ease aches and pains as well as increases circulation and helps to relieve nausea.
- Clove Bud- Clove oil is used to treat a variety of things from toothaches and headaches, to muscle aches, coughs, and asthma. The aroma of Clove is so pleasant, and for me is the most noticeable fragrance in the Fighting Five blend. I absolutely love it!
- Eucalyptus Globulus- STUFFY NOSE, BEGONE! This essential oil is great in the Fighting Five blend to relieve you of a stuffy nose, but alone can be fantastic when used in a hot bath or with steam inhalation.
- Eucalyptus Radiata- Also good for inhalation, the difference in this species of Eucalyptus is that its particularly cooling sensation makes it ideal for vapor rubs.
For those of you who are looking for something to diffuse in your home that will not only make it smell amazing but will also be doing more than triple duty on keeping you healthy and at your best, Fighting Five should be your go-to blend. With holidays rapidly approaching, you need all the help you can get to be your best version of you and with social gatherings going on, you never know what could be coming your way. Follow this link and be prepared by giving your immune system the boost it needs in advance so you can focus on the joy that the holidays bring. Live, Love, and Grow Roots!
I am so excited about today's post, you guys! For several weeks, I have been gearing up to do a series of posts during the month of November and today is the first in the series. As most of you know, I am a firm believer in the effectiveness of essential oils, and this month I have partnered with Eden's Garden to bring you a different synergy blend each week for the entire month. Many of you are interested in using oils but are often unsure of what oils to blend together, so I have chosen 4 blends that most of us would find helpful in their life at one time or another and eliminate the guesswork from the equation. You can thank me later. Now let's get started!
Before I introduce today's blend, I first want to tell you a little bit about Eden's Garden. Eden's Garden was born out of the realization that so often, what we need for wellness has been provided for us in the form of Earth's bounty. What is often untouched by man, can prove to be a source of great healing and create a wholeness within. Eden's Garden CEO Grace Martin started her the company with the dream of giving people access to quality 100% pure therapeutic grade essential oils. One of the things that I find incredibly magical is that Eden's Garden has never spent money on marketing but rather allowed their products to speak for them in the way of amazing feedback and continued use by new and devoted customers. I have tried many different brands of essential oils before finding Eden's Garden. For me, it's about finding that perfect balance of quality and affordability, and I have found that with this company. Now, time to bring on the first blend. Drumroll Please.......
I would like to introduce you to every ladies best friend for at least a week out of each month, Gal Pal. I picked this blend to introduce first because it's one of my all time favs. When PMS is an issue, women can use all the help we can get, right? When I started using Gal Pal, my husband was a fan of the scent but wasn't yet a believer in essential oils. As time went on and he began to notice that each month he became less and less fearful that his life was hanging in the balance for a few days every month and soon became a believer. Gal Pal is a blend of Clary Sage, Lavender, Bergamot, Chamomile, Cedarwood, Ylang Ylang, Geranium, Fennel, Carrot Seed, Palmarosa, and Vitex. The beauty is that diffusing it into the air brings a calm to that fire in your gut that is just hoping that someone pisses you off so you can rip them a new one (I'm sure there is a different blend for that), and at the same time when mixed with a carrier oil and applied to the abdomen is a very cooling feeling that makes you less inclined to want to rip out your uterus. All kidding aside, in the past I used Clary Sage alone for PMS related issues, but when I discovered Gal Pal I realized there is power in number and the mixture each oil brings a whole new level of Zen to my life. What role does each of these single oils play in the grand scheme of things? I'm going to tell you.
- Clary Sage- This essential oil is one of the top oils used in the support of balancing hormones. When applied topically it can relieve menstrual cramping and also aids in the relief of hot flashes. If I had to pick a single oil for the purpose of combatting all things associated with PMS, this would be my go-to single.
- Lavender- We all know that Lavender is a staple in anyone's essential oil collection because it is great for so many different things. Lavender is very calming and relieves the mind of stress and anxiety which can come in abundance during pre-menstruation.
- Bergamont- The citrus smell of Bergamont has a natural uplifting aroma and aids in the overall sense of wellbeing. As with Lavender, it aids in a restful sleep giving way to a more focused and less foggy start to the day.
- Chamomile- While Chamomile calms the body and decreases stress, it also contains anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce premenstrual pain.
- Cedarwood- The Earthy aroma of Cedarwood is helpful in keeping you grounded during a time that can often feel like you are internally going haywire. Cedar trees are known for their strength, and as women, we sometimes need to be reminded of the strength within.
- Ylang Ylang- This essential oil is often used to treat depression and mood swings. I don't know about you guys, but I'm a Moody Judy during PMS. Just ask my husband who is thrilled to not find himself chopped up in my freezer this month. I kid!
- Geranium- Here is your water weight hero! Geranium essential oil stimulates the lymphatic system to reduce the build-up of fluid called edema. This fluid can cause swelling and breast tenderness which can be extremely uncomfortable for some.
- Fennel- Also used as a diuretic, Fennel will also aid in relieving fluid retention as well as balancing hormones. In additional to PMS, Fennel is often used to treat menopausal problems. I personally use Fennel during meditation as well.
- Carrot Seed- Provides an overall uplifted feeling and when added to a carrier oil is fantastic for stressed skin.
- Palmarosa- The citrus meets floral scent of Palmarosa can be helpful when dark moods hit for no apparent reason, or for good cause, as it helps to balance the nervous system.
- Vitex- As someone who feels pretty knowledgeable in regards to essential oils, I have to say that Vitex isn't something I had in my single oil repertoire. It is said to aid in restful sleep as well as assist in overall balance.
Listen you guys, PMS is a pain in every sense of the word. As women, our systems are very complex, and we all experience different symptoms during our cycle. Think about it. We are many things to many people every day. In the course of a day, I am a mom, writer, housekeeper, nurse, therapist, and wife. Sometimes wearing that many hats can be very difficult, and we need a little help to keep us balanced. I encourage each one of you to put yourself first from time to time and put your overall health and wellbeing at the front of the line, because if you aren't feeling your best, who else is going to wear those hats for you? You are important and well worth it. Live, Love, and Grow Roots.
When you were a little kid, do you remember being in your mother's or grandmother's kitchen? Did they let you help roll out the dough, stir something on the stove, or clean out the bowl that held a magical batter? The smells and textures that you find in a kitchen are magical to a child and hold memories that no other room in the house will ever hold. My grandmother was an absolute pro at having the patience it required to show me how to make snickerdoodles and even at 91 years young (this month) she still has the patience to show me how to make her coconut cakes that, until now, she would make and sell every single Christmas to the same loyal fans. My children have always loved to help me in the kitchen and when they do, all of the fond memories of helping my grandmother swirl around in my mind and I am 5 years old all over again. Is it easy to have children in the kitchen with you? Of course not, and sometimes if you are in "go mode" it can be something that can become less than a delightful event. My advice to parents is that when this happens, make that the time that you opt out of letting them help. My middle root has always been the "egg cracker". There is something about cracking eggs on the side of the bowl that makes him happy, and the fact that we have our own chickens makes it even better. He can go out to the coop and grab a fresh egg or two and, if he is lucky, it might just be a double yolk. The tiny root is my waffle batter mixer. She loves a whisk better than any child I have seen. Listen, guys, they make a mess, and yes it is extra work. It takes twice as much time to clean up the waffle mix on the counter and dig out the broken pieces of eggshell that most every time has fallen into the bowl of cracked eggs, but when the alternative is a kitchen without memories, I'll take the mess any day of the week. One day I had scooted a chair over to the counter so that the tiny root could help me mix up her favorite nutmeg and cinnamon waffles and right in the middle of mixing, she lost her footing in the chair and fell like a sack of potatoes into the floor. Luckily, she is apparently made up of primarily piss and vinegar and didn't get hurt, but after a few more falls over the course of weeks, I started trying to find an alternative to using a kitchen chair or narrow stool. After all, I want our magical cooking memories to stay pleasant and less bruise-inducing, but where was I going to find a stool with a seatbelt? One afternoon while I was surfing Pinterest in search of a recipe for stone soup, I happened upon a photo of a child standing happily at the kitchen counter helping her mother prepare a meal. She was standing on a step stool that was unlike anything I had seen before. I quickly abandoned Pinterest and made it my mission to find out where I could find the stool, and where it had been hiding. It didn't take long to find out that the elusive stool of perfection was hiding at Fisher's Hand Craft. Mike Fisher established his Etsy shop in 2015 and has been making cooking with little roots easy for moms and dads everywhere with his amazing safety toddler stool. This stool allows the child to quickly and easily climb into the frame and up the steps, right into a frame that allows them to feel secure with rails around all 4 sides. The best part is that as the child grows, you have the option to adjust the height, making it comfortable for your child as they grow. When I contacted Mike to ask him a few questions regarding the stool, he was more than helpful to help me, and when it arrived at my doorstep, I quickly opened the package with tools in hand ready to assemble, but low and behold, it was FULLY ASSEMBLED. Now listen up. Lean in really close because I'm about to fill your brain with a little knowledge about me, and I don't want anyone else to know. Assembling a product is the bain of my existence. Yup! I suck at it. I blame it partly on the fact that I am incredibly left handed and no matter what the directions look like, I always seem to do it backward. I blame the rest on the fact that I am often so impatient and ready to get to the finish line, that I never open the instruction booklet, and instead, I wing it by looking at pictures on the front of the box. I want you to take that information and stuff it deep down inside, and try your best to never access it again. M-kay! I pulled the safety stand out of the box and sat it at my counter and within seconds, the tiny root was in it and having lunch at the bar.
It is super sturdy but very lightweight and easy to move around. I would venture to say it even weighs less than my dining room chair and also lessens the chance of a traumatic brain injury by at least 90%, which in my opinion is a selling point all by itself. Needless to say, it made the process of making lasting memories with my children in the kitchen much less worrisome that someone would fall and get hurt, and we could focus more on the togetherness that cooking with one another creates. Let your kids in the kitchen with you. If they put too much salt in the dish, they will notice it and learn from it. If they create a mess on the floor, try and remember that it's nothing that a broom or mop can't fix. The messes can be wiped away but the memories of happiness are a gift that lasts a lifetime. Live, Love and Grow Roots!
Have you ever heard the word "tincture" and wondered what it was? When you hear the word tincture, do you think of some voodoo practicing nerd in the basement of their home, chanting over something that looks like a makeshift distillery? Well, stuff that preconceived notion deep into the "never to be thought of again" crevice of your mind because this is one of the simplest connections you can make to help cure what ails you. Let's be honest here. We all have at least one friend who's child could have all the colors of the rainbow streaming from their nose, and they would still bring their little slimy ass over to your house to visit. They come up to your front door hacking and coughing with snot bubbles and a dust cloud of day-old death lingering like Pigpen from Peanuts. Because you are a great friend you let them in, but the entire visit you are trying to hash out in your mind whether you or your little roots will end up with SARS. This is when a tincture could come in handy for many reasons. Health benefits being first of course, and secondly, it's made with Vodka which you will need to survive the visit (I kid). In all seriousness, tinctures are a great way to deliver what you need into your system relatively quickly, and without having to drink a lot of anything in order to do so.
What is a Tincture Exactly?
A tincture is a liquid extract made of herbs that are usually made with some form of clear alcohol. I use Vodka, but some people use Gin. An alternative would be apple cider vinegar or vegetable glycerin but I personally do not have experience in using those, so I'll stick with telling you what I know.
What You Need To Get Started
- A dark glass bottle or jar with an airtight lid (UV rays aren't good for herbal remedies)
- Vodka, Brandy, Gin (Clear alcohol)
- Herbs, roots, berries (depending on what you need)
- Time (the key here is to do it before you need it)
I'm going to start with a simple recipe to boost your immune system just to get your feet wet, and once you feel comfortable, try making something for nausea, the sniffles, headaches, or something that you may feel you need on a regular basis. The shelf life of tinctures is LONG, so it's good to have what you need on hand. Turn your kitchen into your own little tincture lab if you want. Now let's mix it up, shall we?
- 3 Tsp dried echinacea
- 1 Tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 cup dried elderberries
- 80 proof Vodka (your alcohol should always be at least 80 proof)
Combine all of your herbs into an 8 oz jar. Fill the rest of the jar with Vodka and seal tightly. Put your future tincture in an area of your kitchen that doesn't get direct sun and let it sit for 1 month. Strain out your herbs and return to the same container or if you prefer to add it to smaller containers so you can share your magic with others, it's entirely up to you, so long as it's airtight and dark in color.
Dosage: 1/4-1/2 Tsp for Adults and half of that serving for kids. Now, for parents that don't feel comfortable giving their children 1/4 tsp or less of alcohol-based tinctures, the glycerin or ACV may be something for you. It's a personal preference for everyone.
If you have any questions about tinctures for different ailments, feel free to email me and I will do my absolute best to help, and if I can't, I'll send you in the right direction. The good thing about kitchen witches is that we always have a posse. I want those of you interested in making your own tinctures and herbal remedies to feel the power in being able to create something that can keep you well. Empower yourselves with knowledge and put that knowledge to work. Live, Love, and Grow Roots!
When I created The Braided Root, I began posting things that made me feel fulfilled in my life. I love to share with others anything that brings joy to my life, whether it’s a simple recipe, an herbal tincture, or a trinket that just makes me happy. Over the past several months, I’m repeatedly asked the same thing; “What Homeschool Curriculum do you use?”. This is almost immediately followed by “What is Waldorf?”. There are times that I try my best to explain, but the truth is it is VERY difficult to convey to others in a supermarket setting all of the brilliant anthroposophical methods that Rudolph Steiner created years ago and why we follow them to the best of our ability in our home today. So let’s dive in and learn who Rudolph Steiner was, what Waldorf education is, and what some of the things are that we find to be essentials in a Waldorf inspired home.
Who was Rudolph Steiner?
What a loaded question. While I could write for days about who Steiner was, what I think of him, and what some others think of him, I’ll try my best to stick to the basic information. Rudolph Steiner an Austrian philosopher, author, and artist who lived between 1861 and 1965. He was the founder of Anthroposophy or “Spiritual Science”. I’ll give you a moment to sound it out. It doesn’t necessarily roll off the tongue easily. I will cover Anthroposophy a bit later in “What is Waldorf Curriculum?”. In 1891, Steiner received his Ph.D. from Rockstock and made his way to Germany after being offered the position of editing the natural scientific works of Goethe, which he completed in 1987 when he moved to Berlin. Fast forward a bit to 1918 when a revolution began to take hold not only in Russia, but also in Germany, and threatened to destroy their social structure. Steiner had what he thought was a solution in a threefold movement. It focused on cultural freedom, political and legislative equality, and solidarity of economic life. Soon after, Steiner was invited to provide a series of lectures to the workers of the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory which led to the very first free Waldorf school opening within the factory and providing education to the children of factory employees. Fast forward again to today where Waldorf schools have grown to around 150 in North America and over 1,000 globally. For those of my readers that live nearby, we have a wonderful Waldorf school in nearby Nashville. Rudolph Steiner definitely made his mark, to say the least, and his pedagogy is still very much alive in the homeschooling community.
What is Waldorf Education?
Rudolph Steiner based Waldorf education and it’s principal philosophies on the belief that nurturing the WHOLE child, heart, mind, and soul, would result in “individuals who are able, in and of themselves, to impart meaning to their lives”. Pretty profound words by Steiner if you ask me. Ultimately as parents, we want our children to be comfortable in their own skin. For me personally, I want my roots to grow up with confidence and with a soul that isn’t fragmented. Someone that, in the future, can confidently contribute amazing attributes freely and with independent thought. What I found to be beneficial for us as a family is that the curriculum is very broad and is a balance of academics, art, and practical life skills. I freely use arts and activities as the driving force behind the academic aspects of what I teach, and by doing so, it creates a love of learning. In a nutshell, it has taken away what was a serious disdain for education and replaced it with a much more enjoyable experience for us. No pressure to perform, no huge stacks of prefabricated worksheets to complete each night, and the ability to communicate needs to one another so that we can better be of service to each other. One of the aspects of Waldorf that differs from traditional education is that Academics are de-emphasized during early years. Kindergarten is KINDERGARTEN. Or at least more like what Kindergarten was years ago. Even as the child enters first grade, there is minimal emphasis placed on academics proper and more on the cultivation of “pre-academic skills”. What is often considered extracurricular activities at mainstream schools such as art, music, and gardening, are the foundation of early education with Waldorf. I began homeschooling Charlie in 1st grade after he failed to “measure up” in public school. For the first two years, I used only artistic mediums to introduce subjects to him. Generally speaking, I think that children respond better to this approach than with lecturing and monotonous worksheets. There are no textbooks. You read correctly. From grade 1-5, we have a main lesson book that we fill throughout the year with lessons we cover. Essentially, Charlie makes his own textbook filled with experiences and things he has learned throughout the year. Early education with Waldorf in non-competitive, meaning that grades are not given at the elementary level. How do I know he did well? Because I’m his teacher and it’s my job to make sure that he succeeds both emotionally and educationally and it’s not something that is rated on a scale of A-F. The last thing I want to cover is the use of electronic media. There isn’t any. ARE YOU KIDDING? How will our children survive without that tablet or tv? I won’t say that our television never comes on, or that Charlie isn’t ever on a computer, but in a Waldorf centered home, it is discouraged. We do have a TV, and we do have Netflix, but regular cable isn’t a thing in our home because when we did have it, the result wasn’t favorable. Charlie loves TV. He would sit in front of it entirely too much and his mind would literally be on cruise control. When it was turned off, he became so overcome with an abundance of energy that he hadn’t been using while watching TV, that he was very easily irritated, which in turn made me irritated. Not a pleasant environment for anyone. When the children entertain themselves with a more natural focus, their imagination runs wild and they are left feeling satisfied. Proper reading lessons begin in grade 4. Until then, we focus on imagery found in folk and fairy tales. As I said earlier, we are in the process of the cultivating the love of learning and this includes reading. Most children in a Waldorf setting begin reading on their own before grade 4, but it’s an organic process and one that is enjoyable for them. Charlie is in grade 3 now and is reading well above his “level”, and while we aren’t set to begin reading as a subject until next year, he does it on his own for pleasure.
Waldorf Essentials In The Home
As I said before, we discourage the use of TV or media. So you may be wondering, "What do you guys do?". Well, this leads me to the most entertaining part of my favorite part of this post because I get to show you some lovely things and how they work to enhance your child's imagination and spark joy in their soul. Steiner believed that playthings and school materials should be beautiful to behold. The goal is to nurture children in a beautiful environment, and their playthings should be beautiful as well. By surrounding a child with simplistic beauty, it instills within them a sense of aesthetic awareness. Toys that are made from natural materials, with rich, natural hues, are inviting, and contribute to a child’s “sense of life”. Textures are very important to the development of a child l, as well. Take soft merino wool, for instance. We have several toys as well as clothing items that are made from soft wool, and YES in the Summertime we still wear wool. Think about it, the temperature in your home is typically the same year round, so the idea that wool is for Winter is just a notion. Later I will show you a Summer option for wool jammies. When my tiny root gets ready to rock at night, she immediately goes to those items to choose one to cuddle as well as a specific pair of wool crochet booties with sheepskin insoles. A child is much more likely to feel reverence for a beautiful handcrafted toy and care for it accordingly than he is for a plastic mass produced toy. How many times have you purchased a matchbox car or a baby doll that within the week had either become lost or colored on? A child knows when they are in the presence of beautiful materials, and treat those things accordingly. We keep lovely open-ended toys that cause the imagination to run wild. When I refer to a toy as being "open-ended", what I mean is that you can take that toy and with your imagination, it can be many many things. Stay with me because I'm going to show you a few things that are played with daily at my house.
Most definitely at the top of our list would be Play Silks. When you bring a silk into your home, you bring in hours and hours of play time. Just yesterday, the middle root was pretending to be a superhero with his "cape" saving his sister from who knows what and five minutes later it was the landscape for playing barnyard with wooden peg dolls and Holztiger wooden animals. The silks we use are from a company that hand dyes all of their silks and the outcome is something truly magical. Kitchen Dyeworks artist Renee creates her silks from Habotai Chinese Silk, and then carefully dyes them using non-toxic dyes to create something unique each and every time. I suggest even those of you who aren't Waldorf centered homes to try one, but good look getting it away from them when it's dinner time.
Woolies (warm bodies equal ready minds)
As I said earlier, Wool Wool Wool. It comes in many different forms, with some being very light and airy and others being the GO-TO for warm piggies. I want to start with the first thing the roots put on in the morning. Slippers! If my littles have cold feet, there is nothing on the planet that can fully grab their attention. It's important that your children feel comfortable from head to toe in order for them to fully engage you. When I first began transforming our house into a Waldorf-centered home, I thought this concept was a bit of a stretch, but I will tell you what it did for me was paramount. It taught me as a mother how to truly hone in on how connected and engaged my children were. When I began to make even what seemed in the moment to be the most insignificant change, the results were bountiful. I'm not saying that a pair of wool slippers will turn your little monster into an angel, but for us, warm piggies equal happy kiddos. The slippers tiny root wears are my absolute favorite because they are from EcoSoles and are crocheted by hand from soft wool fibers, lined with the most amazing sheepskin fur, and the soles are non-slip cow-hide. Lori Poppe was a genius because this means that while the little is running through the house (ALL THE TIME) she isn't slip sliding everywhere. I would also like to add that she looks so damn cute in them that I just about can't get a grip. My favorite go-to combo when bedtime is growing near are her EcoSoles and her Merino wool base layer from TK Clothing. The base layer is thin and lightweight which makes it perfect for Summer and definitely warm enough for winter. What I love about TK Clothing is that she sews each one herself and it's as if she knows all of the things that drive me mad with clothing. I need to be able to purchase a size that will last a while so I want to be able to roll up sleeves and them actually stay. I am also a seam weirdo. I want to know that the seams aren't going to pull apart after the first wear. I don't mind paying the price for quality items, but if I am doing so, I prefer the items to be up to the task of frequent wear, and EcoSoles and TK Clothing are certainly measuring up.
Building blocks, as well as sorting toys, are paramount in the developing mind of children. It opens them up to endless creative possibilities, and in doing so it also allows them to develop their fine motor skills as they create. As children get older, it organically introduces numbers and counting while they create. I purchased a set of building blocks for Charlie when we first began to homeschool. I was wandering through one of the many Waldorf Facebook groups I follow and stumbled upon Wiwiurka. When I tell you that these blocks are amazing, it is an understatement. They are made from Savage wood and painted so vibrantly with non-toxic watercolor and food coloring. If you are a Waldorf family, chances are you already know Ana and Marek of Wiwiurka, but either way, I highly recommend them.
When it comes to sorting, I was looking for the same qualities that I found in the building blocks. I knew that my children loved vibrant colors and I knew that it was important to me that they were painted with non-toxic colors so that if they made it into the mouth of the tiny root, I wouldn't have to worry about what it was she was absorbed into her body. I found all of the things I was looking for at Mama May I. If you need some sorting toys and Jessica doesn't have it in her shop, I don't know what to tell you because she has it all. We opted for the Rainbow Bowl because it was small enough for Frances to use and Charlie was a fan as well. We currently use the Rainbow Bowl on a regular basis to teach colors and numbers, however, Frances also pretends that she is a doctor and is scooping out medicine. Last night she was pretending that it was a bowl of dog food and she was feeding one of her animals. This is the essence of open-ended toys.
Balance is important from the inside out in our home. Rocking is beneficial for a child's sense of balance and aids a child's sense of the awareness of being in one's physical body. Because this, too, is an open-ended toy, you would be surprised to know all of the ways that children discover to use this item. When we first received our rocker board from 2XPwood, we naturally assumed that the balance aspect and rocking would be the primary use, but as it turns out, we have done everything from creating a bridge to climb over and a slide to slide down, to a cradle for a baby and a sailboat. What may seem like a simple tool to stimulate the vestibular system, quickly became a portal into their imaginations at the same time.
You may be wondering what the reasoning is behind Waldorf Dolls. You can easily go to a retail store and purchase a baby doll for less than $10 and still reap the same rewards, right? Not exactly. You will notice with Waldorf Dolls that their faces are more muted in expression, some of them are even faceless altogether. This gives the child the ability to let their imagination decide what their doll looks like and also allows it to change over time. Waldorf dolls are also made with materials that nourish the senses such as Alpaca wool for the hair and wool roving for the stuffing which gives the doll a weight that is more appealing to children. For me personally, I don't prefer dolls that wear makeup and dress like a "diva" because I feel like we have so much time to introduce those things to our children, and I want them to enjoy the childhood aspect of playing with dolls. When I chose Elfenbaum to make our first Waldorf doll, I did so because of the muted nature of the faces and because I was looking for an Ethnic doll for the tiny root. Having "babies" of all colors have always been something that I felt was important for the development of my children. Inna with Elfenbaum is not only a gifted dollmaker, but she is a very kind spirit which is something you feel in each doll she makes. When you place a beautiful item with beautiful materials in the hands of a child, the possibilities are endless. As the tiny root became a bit bigger and I noticed her trying to feed her baby and put her baby to bed, we decided to incorporate things she could do with her baby. I came across the amazing wooden swing by MumaMima Forest Tales that we could attach to our swingset outside. Frannie spends countless hours out there swinging her baby. It warms my heart to see her developing a nurturing nature for her doll.
I hope this sheds some light on how we learn as a family and inspires people to find pleasure in simple things. While Waldorf Education isn't for everyone, it was a complete game changer for the way my children learn and interact with others. Our family rhythm changed from what felt like a techno rave on most days, to a more relaxed freely flowing Enya type of experience which I attribute that to the Steiner's methods. As always, what works for us may not work for everyone but acceptance of each other's parenting and teaching styles still remains the best way to lead by example. Live, Love, and Grow Roots.
Have you ever read something that evoked emotion and spoke to your soul? Madness, happiness, pride, humility, or the urge to jump but you aren't sure where? The power of words can take you from the ordinary day and put you in the place where rawness lies. The places that can sometimes be uncomfortable but tell your story in a few short, powerful lines and inspire the everyday people to be the change that world needs. I find healing and inspiration in writers of great poetry and literature. There is power in words. For a couple of weeks I have spent some time thinking of the books that I have read in the past, and the poetry that I've combed over throughout the years, looking for something inspirational to hang in my living space. I wanted something that was indicative of who I am as a person and also who we are as a family. We certainly aren't a store full of fucking Hallmark card moments. Our family is torn and tattered at times, we are pieced back together with love and affection for one another, and at the end of that reconstruction, we will take the fragmented version and turn it into a masterpiece worth hanging in even the most amazing art galleries. It needed to be all of those things with a mixture of humility and steadfast dedication. "Be the change you wish to see in the world" - Mahatma Gandhi. This is one that will forever be a mantra of mine, and while it speaks to me, it wasn't what I was looking for as an overall description of what we are as a family. "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better" - Maya Angelou. This is a quote that I use often with my children and also with new mothers. We are all lost until we find our way. We are all just doing our best with what knowledge we have at that moment in time. "It's all too much and not enough at the same time" -Jack Kerouac. I could fill my entire home with the words and Jack Kerouac. If I had to sum up the way I feel about life as a whole, that would be the one. Life is like a roller coaster that is incredibly thrilling but takes your breath and refuses to return it until you are about to turn blue. Suddenly you stop and gasp for a breath but beg to hand over your very last ticket to ride one more time. While thinking of what I needed to go in our living room, it caused my mind to wander (Big Shocker). It made me ponder over the immense power of not only the words of great authors, but my own words and the words of my children. While they can be an incredible source of inspiration, they can also be weapons of mass destruction. Months ago I noticed the fashion industry had taken a turn (told you I wandered but stay with me). Suddenly fashion, especially for children, was all about words. With almost every style of dress, there was a phrase to go along. The problem for me was that as I browsed around and picked cute shirts for my little roots, I began to realize that should I decide to purchase some of these trendy threads, a large portion of them would turn my sweet little roots into pompous, rude, and conceited little assholes before they ever step foot outside the door. "It hurts to be this awesome", "prove it at the plate", "cute like mom", "Too cool for school", "Daddy's little princess". I hadn't spent much time thinking about it at first but then as I think of something to hang in my living room that demonstrates who we are as a family, the lightbulb came on inside my mind. If I put these words across my child's chest, it speaks to others and how they feel about my roots, and also what to expect from them. Beyond that, it tells my child that his opposing baseball team is shit, and if they aren't the should "prove it at the plate". It tells my youngest root that as "Daddy's little princess", she is the equivalent of royalty and should be treated as such. And let's be honest here, yesterday I saw her eat a booger and bite off one of her toenails. She's a beautiful little root, but we aren't dealing with the Duchess of York here. With that being said, I always try to encourage my roots to be individuals and have their own sense of style, and my middle root wants words. Lucky for me I was able to find a select few fresh threads for the boy that he was not only happy with, but that had the power to touch people. "Nice is the new cool", "Be the change", "People aren't deplorable. Racism is". He loves them all, and not only do they tell people who he is, but it has the ability to change things and hopefully leaves them feeling much more inspired than "It hurts to be this awesome". Words can change the way you behave, and the way you carry yourself. As adults, we have the option to puff out our chest about current events and controversial issues and tell everyone to "Prove it at the plate", or we can "Be the change". It's okay to make noise, but if it's just noise, people will certainly cover their ears and harden their hearts to it. Which brings me back to the topic of finding the perfect excerpt or quote to hang in my living room. I can make noise. Just ask my family. But I want something different this time. Lucky for me I found exactly what I needed, and while it wasn't in the unlikeliest place, it was from an unlikely source; a children's book.
Painted like a page from a book, Willow Hill Signs made the perfect soul-song piece for my family. While it was hard for me to find the piece that spoke the full truth of our family, I knew this was the one the moment I saw it, and the fact that The Velveteen Rabbit is a story that I have read to all of my roots over the years made it much more pertinent. After I had it hung in it's forever home, just above the piano bearing 3 dead keys that my son uses to practice each week, I knew it was the perfect spot and the perfect choice. The selection of the perfect piece began as a love of words, but it quickly became more than that. It made me ponder the power of the words we attach to our soul. The words we use are powerful and much more important than clothing. Be mindful of what you say to others. Let your words swirl around your mouth before you let them go and what the words will do when hung in that perfect spot in someone's mind. "Kindness is a language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see" -Mark Twain. Live, Love, and Grow Roots.
In today's day and time, with social media at the forefront of everyone's mind, not to mention in front of their face, it seems as though putting pen to paper has become a lost art. I recall being a teenager and having a pen pal. YES! A pen pal. Try hard to scoop your jaw off the floor now because I'm just getting started here. Nowadays we are satisfied just being able to keep up with old friends and new ones via social media, and all the while, it's becoming more and more impersonal. I myself am the worst at knowing when someone's birthday is and sending a proper card. But hey, who needs to have a calendar full of birthdays when you have social media platforms to remind you when Joe Blow's birthday is, just in time to send the classic post "Happy Birthday Joe Blow!", right? WRONG! I am refusing to see all of the lovely handwritten letters and stationary perfection in some museum somewhere labeled as an ancient artifact alongside the history of The Pony Express. When you get a letter in the mail that has been written by someone you love, it has a completely different feel than a post on your timeline. It's so much more than just a card or a letter, it's literally their time, in an envelope. Anyone can sit from the comfort of their home, with phone or laptop in hand and send an impersonal "Thinking of you" post, but when you take the time to put your feelings on paper, what you are telling that person is that not only are you thinking of them, but that they are worth the time and effort it takes to give life to those words. I'm about to tell you something about me that you didn't know. I'm a stationery junkie. While I may not be great at Birthday Cards, I do love to send a note to people to tell them they are on my mind. One of my all-time favorite companies when it comes to lovely stationery is Rifle Paper Co. If writing letters and staying connected the old-fashioned way isn't your thing, you will for sure be feeling the writing bug when you have the appropriate tools. Rifle Paper Co. has always been the object of my affection because their prints are fresh and fun but also appeal to the lover of all things vintage side of me. I'm sort of a nerd when it comes to the history of a company. I love to read the "About" or "History" section of every website I visit. I want to know their story and how they began. I know what sparked me to create The Braided Root, and I want to know where their spark came from. I love the fact that Rifle Paper Co. started by a husband and wife team in the garage of their Florida home. Listen, I have worked with my husband before. I am very hard hitting and he is very laid back. All I can say is that we both survived. Barely. I love a good victory story and to see a company go from garage to New York Times, Southern Living, and Instyle, just to name a few, is a joy sparker for me. So, when I'm looking for stationary, they are one of my favs. If you want to make a solid effort to connect with others on a more personal level, start by giving yourself the tools you need to do so. I have a caddy that holds my favorite stationery, a journal, stamps, a pen, and a small blanket. When the weather is begging to be appreciated, I will find a tree and outside and live there for a bit. There is something magical and meaningful about getting lost for a bit, letting words swirl around your mind and then putting it on paper. Take a moment to be more connected with your loved ones and breathe life back into sending letters instead of texts. Live, Love, and Grow Roots.
What is better than a warm cup of chicken noodle soup on a cool crisp day? I'll tell you. It's the same chicken noodle soup your grandma used to make with one extra ingredient which I refer to as a "ditch food". I'll come back to the soup, but first, you and I are going on a trip. You're walking along and you happen upon this plant which you have probably passed 100 times and had no idea that what was growing in a nearby ditch was not only edible but medicinal in many ways. Stinging Nettle. Don't go to grabbing at it just yet because it's called "Stinging" Nettle for a reason. This plant may be considered an annoyance for many because brushing up against it can prove to be an unpleasant experience. With that kind of reputation, I was slightly intimidated when I set out to try and locate a plant to photograph. Some people are lucky enough to have Nettle (I'm leaving out the Stinging part to psych myself up for this) in their backyard, but the conditions have to be appropriate and the only thing growing in my yard are weeds that we refer to as grass and a small vegetable garden. I had some reservations going into this mission. It was a mixture of fear due to the fact that I've managed to make it 40 years and have only been stung by 1 asshole wasp and no matter what you may have heard, I DID NOT call my mother crying to tell her that everyone was right, and it does hurt like hell. I also had this Little Shop of Horrors-esque mental image floating around in my brain. I had decided already that when I walked up on the plant, it would see me for the meaty morsel I am, and gobble me right up on the spot. As luck would have it, I didn't have to go very far before I saw it, and it there it sat all nice and seemingly docile. I had no intentions of touching it, and let me advise you that if you plan to harvest your own plants, wear gloves that will protect you. You see, the plant is covered with tiny hairs filled with chemicals like histamine and formic acid among others, and when they sting, those chemicals can be quite irritating to the skin. Lucky for me, I was just looking for a photo because I had already acquired dried nettles from Sacred Garden Herbs. So, here you can see the Stinging Nettle plant. Doesn't look so tough now does it? THEN YOU GRAB IT! As for me, I want to keep my tough girl image intact so I took the photo I set out to obtain and left the processing of the nettle up to the pros at Sacred Garden Herbs. I repeat, I DID NOT call after the wasp incident I tell ya! Moving on.
THE BENEFITS OF STINGING NETTLE
Stinging nettle is a fantastic detoxifier of the body and improves your metabolic function. THANK GOODNESS RIGHT! All this immune system talk, and finally something that tells my system to be 20-something again. Okay, maybe it's not that magical, but it does have the ability to give you some balance. When I first began using stinging nettle, I did so to try and regulate my menstrual cycle which had been insanely out of whack since having baby number 3. I also, at age 39, was experiencing crazy hot flashes and felt that it was entirely too soon to have to deal with that. I spent some time doing research on the effects of the plant and with the wide array of benefits, it seemed like a bit of a no-brainer to add to my diet. I found out that Stinging Nettle acts as a coagulant and slows bleeding making it not only good for my issues after having little root, but is often used as an aid during pregnancy and delivery, and as if that isn't enough, stinging nettle stimulates milk production which is a huge benefit for nursing mothers. But, when I came across the phrase "regulates hormonal activity", I was all in. Okay, now does that mean the activity of my hormones, or the activity of ME when my hormones are eff'd up? Because I'll be honest with you, for about 5 days out of each month, all of my Zen goes out the fucking window, and whether or not I chop my husband into pieces and put him in the freezer is a minute by minute decision. He would concur. So overall, I have experienced a much easier cycle each month, decreased pain, and the man root hasn't had to hide knives in months (I kid), so if you ask me as to the effectiveness of this magic plant, I'm saying it's a winner. My father has now agreed to try stinging nettle to treat his Rheumatoid Arthritis. For a man that lives on nicotine and goo goo clusters, I'm optimistic. I'll report back on that.
HOW TO USE STINGING NETTLE
The good news is that once Stinging Nettle is processed either by cooking or dehydration, all of its stinging abilities are gone. Many people eat nettle leaves in the same way you would turnip greens or Kale (barf) I mean...Kale. Sorry, I do have a Kale gag reflex, and I'm not at all a picky eater. You can cook down nettle leaves and then sautee them in a little butter and garlic and have it as a side dish, you can dehydrate the leaves and drink it in a tea, which is what I typically do, or you can make a tincture and use it in that way. If all of this seems a little too much work, or you simply don't have the time, I would suggest visiting Sacred Garden Herbs Etsy shop to pick up what you need. I wasn't ready for the foraging process at the time and wasn't really sure if I would recognize the plant if I came upon it, so that's exactly what I did. They were very helpful and even though I am confident in my ability to locate and harvest stinging nettle, I will most likely stick with having it delivered to my front door via my nice mailer man who honks the horn when I have a package.
NOW ON TO THE SOUP!
Earlier this week I made a post about bone broth. Go grab it because this is one of those recipes where you will be happy you have it on hand as it adds so much more flavor and healthy vitamins and minerals that store-bought broth doesn't have. However, if you must use store bought broth, I recommend an organic free range chicken broth. Listen, guys, I know a lot of you are vegetarian and I totally respect that, and for you all, I suggest just converting this recipe into a vegetable base and omitting the chicken. Still sounds good to me!
- 2 Tbsp of Olive Oil
- 2 Quarts of Bone Broth (or store bought)
- 2 carrots chopped
- 2 large ribs of celery chopped
- A handfull of mushrooms of any type (optional)
- 1/4 cup of dried Stinging Nettle
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 2 cooked and shredded chicken breast from a healthy source
- 1 handful of Flat Leaf Parsley
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 12 oz of whatever pasta you prefer. My roots like bowtie noodles. Middle root says they are sophisticated.
To a Dutch oven, add a couple of tablespoons of Olive Oil heating to medium-high heat. Add your chopped veggies. Sautee for 5-7 minutes to bring out the flavor of the veggies and allow them to soften a bit. Add in your garlic and continue to saute for 2 more minutes. Pour in your broth, nettles, and salt & pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce your heat, leaving your soup to boil gently for 10 minutes. Add your noodles and cook for an additional 10 minutes until noodles are soft. This may have to be adjusted depending on the type of noodles you prefer. Add chopped parsley on top and away you go! If at any time during the cooking process, you feel as though your broth is lower than you like, feel free to add a cup or two of your broth. For me, two quarts was plenty, but it really depends on the amount of veggies you prefer and the type of noodles you choose.
DON'T FORGET TO ENJOY THE PROCESS!
As with everything else I write about and share with you all, the most important part is to enjoy the process of what you are doing. If you come across something on here and it feels like work or you don't think you will enjoy it, for goodness sakes, don't do it! I have found that for me when something becomes "work" it stops being enjoyable and becomes a chore. This life is too short to spend all of your time on chores. Let's have fun, and above all else, Live, Love, and Grow Roots!
Don't let the title fool ya. This recipe and what it does for the working order of your body is everything BUT basic. I had a recipe that I was ready to share with you all, but then I thought about how many of my soups for Fall and Winter have a bone broth base, and I can't put the horse ahead of the cart on this one. Especially when this horse is pulling lots of beneficial weight. So, for the sake of giving everyone a healthy start going into cooler weather, I will save my soup recipe for later in the week and start with the broth. Bone broth is something that you will most likely find in at least half of your everyday recipes, so why not substitute store-bought broth for a much healthier option that takes a little less out of the wallet, and is free of chemicals and MSG at the same time. Before I get to the ingredients list, I want to tell you a few ways in which bone broth can be liquid gold in your life. Bone broth is a very nutrient dense food that packs a punch in the vitamins and minerals department, adding copious amounts of calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus to your diet and giving your teeth and bones a boost. While that alone is a slam dunk, it wasn't what drew me in as far as benefits are concerned. The bones that you use to create this tonic are high in collagen content which supports healthy joints, skin, hair, and nails among other things like brain health, digestion, and even connective tissue support which reduces cellulite. Focus, you guys! While it seems like you may have won the health and wellness lottery, don't cash in just yet because we still have to cover the ingredients, how to make it, how to store it, and a couple of easy peasy ways to eat it...or drink it. When making bone broth, the type of bones you use is entirely up to you and your specific taste preference. Bone broth can be made from lamb, bison, chicken, beef, or fish, and when I make mine, I add lots of vegetables and spices to increase the flavor and the benefits. When it comes to the bones, I typically use GMO-free pastured chicken from Top of the World Farms. They are a local farm and a lovely family, so when it comes to buying bones that I wouldn't typically have lying around, I go out to the farm and purchase bones they sell after they have processed the meat. It's sold by weight and includes feet. You read right! The feet are a very important source of gelatin which is one of the keys to a good bone broth. Some people leave out the feet, but it makes me feel magical, so I throw it in. For those of you who cook a whole chicken on a regular basis, you can save the leftover bones in the freezer and when you have enough (around 2 lbs) you can get your broth going. When it comes to the vegetables, I do the exact same thing. When I am cooking everyday meals that include onion or celery, I will save everything from the peel from an onion to the base of the celery stalks. I will put them in a container in the freezer and when I have accumulated what I need, I grab a big ol' stock pot (mine is a 20 qt pot) and get going.
This is my favorite basic bone broth recipe but you are free to tweak it to accommodate your taste buds.
HOW TO MAKE BONE BROTH
- prep 15 mins
- cook 12 hours (give or take a couple of hours, but at least 8)
- total 12 hours, 15 mins
- author Jessica Rickman
- yields 18 + servings
- 2 lbs of bones from a source of your choice. The healthier the bones are the healthier you will be.
- Chicken Feet. A pair. If your chicken has two left feet it makes no difference. (optional)
- 1 onion
- 1 stalk of celery
- 1 carrot
- 2 Tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 1 Tsp Turmeric (optional) I add it because turmeric alone is good for you so why not?
- A Handful of Thyme (optional) I grow it, so I have it on hand and again, why not?
- 2 Cloves of Garlic
- If the bones you have accumulated are from previously roasted chicken or from cooked meats, you are one step ahead, however, if you are working with raw bones, you should roast your bones for around 30 minutes at 350. While this step isn't entirely necessary and is one I have skipped on a few occasions, you will be glad you did, as it most definitely adds to the flavor profile of the broth.
- Add the bones to your stock pot along with Apple Cider Vinegar and cover with water. I allow it sit for 20 minutes or so to allow the ACV to bring out the nutrients of the bones.
- Add all of your veggies, herbs, and spices and add more water if necessary. I like to be sure that everything is fully submerged. Bring the broth to a boil. Once it has reached a rapid boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and let it fly. For the first few hours of simmer, your broth will accumulate a frothy layer on top. You will skim this off with a slotted spoon and throw it away. I check mine every half hour or so for the first couple of hours and if it's frothy, I skim and toss it. After the first few hours, it's been skimmed as much as it will require and you can sit back and enjoy the aroma for the rest of the day.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Strain your broth. I pour my broth into court size jars. I place a fine mesh strainer on top of the funnel so that while I'm pouring it into the jars, it strains it as well.
- Decide how you want to store your broth. In the fridge, it will be good to use for about 5 days, so I typically leave at least 1 quart in the fridge. I pressure can the remaining quarts at 25 lbs of pressure for 10 minutes. You have the option to freeze it also, but while others have luck with that, I always have at least 1 jar that breaks no matter how long I allow it to cool ahead of time.
However, you decide to have your broth is entirely up to you. I have a mug almost daily during Fall and Winter months to help boost my immune system as well as to warm my tummy on a cold day. You can also use it in any soup recipe that requires a corresponding broth base whether it be chicken, beef, or fish. Whatever way you choose to have your broth, the biggest thing to remember is to make sure that your bones are from a healthy source and that no matter what, let it make your soul warm and happy.
LIVE, LOVE, and GROW ROOTS.
At some point in your life, you have found yourself in the presence of a personal growth vacuum. Maybe it's someone you have known for a long time, or maybe it's the mailman who brings your packages to the door and all of his baggage as well. When this happens, what do you do? Do you offer an ear to bend and little time and patience? Maybe you take a moment to lend sympathy to someone in need. But, when is enough actually enough? Do you give until you have compromised your own growth? Over the years I have found that for myself, I haven't always been able to walk away from something when it feels like it's leaving my emotional tank on "E". I would continue to let it deplete me and leave me feeling dissatisfied when in actuality, I know I have such magic in my life. I've always considered myself someone that is connected with living things not just based on time spent with them, but more on the fact that as living creatures, we all are connected. I'm the one that sees a stranger in need and offers them my help or a mother that is frazzled so I offer an extra hip for their child to rest upon while she checks out her groceries. The drawback of this is that often times I tend to absorb other peoples negativity and make it my own. I have ultimately found that when life shows you what it has to offer and you aren't digging it. Turn that shit loose! With that being said, my husband is currently stomping around the house (on his good leg due to a bum knee) because he can't seem to find clean underwear. Now, I'm not going to turn him out to pasture because he is pissy. I'm just going to keep on enjoying my coffee and bringing life lessons to you guys because we all know that his underwear is hiding in the ever elusive closet. Of course, everyone has a bad day from time to time and will find themself in need of someone to lean on, myself included. The problem begins when they lean so hard that it begins to alter the way you grow. Have you ever been hiking through the woods and see a mature tree that has managed to grow leaning completely to one side like the Leaning Tower of Pisa? You think to yourself, how does this happen and why isn't the tree just collapsing under the weight of its own canopy? The reason is that its roots are planted deep and firm, and while the weight of outside forces caused it to lean, it doesn't fall but instead alters its growth. As adults, we allow outside influences to keep us from achieving our full potential and we allow them to suck the nutrients right out of our personal soil. Sometimes I look around and think about how grateful I am for the handful of friends that I have that are near and dear to my soul because we support each other's growth, no matter the direction, and we allow one another to remain upright without compromising the foundation. Surround yourself with those that support your growth, and leave the bullshit at the door. This is your journey, and deep roots will support you so long as the weight isn't too great. If you need to let things go, it's ok to do that. It's not being selfish to allow yourself nutrient rich soil in which to grow. If you are a giving soul, just imagine all of the wonderful things you could do, if only you saved enough of yourself to allow for growth and stability. We could do amazing things with an unwavering sense of who we are and begin to make magic happen. Goodness knows we need a little more magic in the world.
With Autumn Solstice nipping at our heels, I have shared several immune boosting elixirs. Today we are going to switch gears, but in no way throw it in reverse because today's post is just as beneficial, just in a different way. Today I have partnered with Meadow Sweet Goat, Otis Classic, and Zenobia's Garden to bring you Kombucha! If you are in the know on fermented food and drink, Kombucha is something that you may have heard of. Kombucha is a traditional fermented drink made of black or green tea and sugar or other sweeteners like fruit juice or honey. It contains many beneficial vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that provide many health benefits. I first learned of Kombucha a few years ago, and immediately wanted to try my hand at it. At the time, it appeared very unsuccessful, but looking back now, with more knowledge of how the fermented foods work, I realized I just wasn't patient enough and was focusing far too much on "what the hell is that floating in the jar". Like most of the recipes for wellness that I share, it isn't a magic pill that you take and suddenly all things are right within your body, but instead, it supports your decisions to fill your tank with healthy choices. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a clean eating machine, but I also am very in tune with what makes my body feel depleted of what it needs, or when I've had too much of something it doesn't. If I've had prosciutto, there is a good chance that I'm going to feel as though I didn't have enough water, and my fingers will become tight due to the sodium. If I decide that I want cake at a party, there is a huge chance that I'm going to kick ass and take names for about 45 minutes post party cake consumption and then crash and burn when the sugar high wears off. There is nothing Kombucha can do about that, but what it can do is pretty awesome all the same. It aids in Liver detoxification, improves pancreas function, boosts energy, improves mood, and also reduces Candida yeast. Kombucha is fermented by a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). You can grow your own scoby by simply brewing your tea, adding in the sugar, and just waiting for it to form. Unfortunately, it takes weeks for this to happen and I wanted to get a move on, so I opted to obtain my scoby from Zenobia's Garden. It came packaged and sealed perfectly with a cup of starter tea as well which is necessary for a new brew. During fermentation, the magical scoby absorbs 90% of the sugar, leaving you a nutrient rich drink with lots of beneficial probiotics. This little bizarre jelly looking disc is literally magic. While it may not be very aesthetically pleasing with its slick rubbery looking exterior, it's definitely your money maker. Try not to judge the scoby based on looks alone, because after it's all said and done you will take it out and strain off any sediment or yeast that have appeared over the week long ferment. Often referred to as "mother", your scoby makes BABIES! After your fermenting process, you most likely will notice a new scoby has grown and attached itself to your original scoby. The beauty here is that you can detach it and use it for a fresh brew. They are like gremlins!!!!! Except they can die, so it's important to never add your scoby to the new brew when it is 80 degrees or higher. I typically add mine when it's 70-ish. After I have finished brewing, I carefully place my scoby in my tea and cover it with a coffee filter and a rubber band. Never use cheesecloth for this because fruit flies LOVE fermented anything, and the holes are too big. That last thing you want is to spend a week making Kombucha and then find what I call "demons with wings" floating around. I've never had an issue with fruit flies around my Kombucha with the coffee filter/rubber band method. Now, if you recall a previous post a week or so ago where I talked about the benefits of Elderberries, I'm about to blow your mind. Thanks to Meadow Sweet Goat, I had a perfect amount of Elderberries to add to my Kombucha to give it extra immune boosting properties and fantastic flavor. This is referred to as a second ferment. The scoby is removed after 7-8 days, and if you want to add any fresh fruit or fruit juices to add additional flavor to your brew, now is that time. I took the dried Elderberries and added them to my brew, covered it back up and allowed it to infuse its goodness for 2 more days. Not only did it give it an amazing smell, flavor, and added health benefits, but isn't Meadow Sweet Goat the most amazing name ever for a store. It immediately took me back to how much I loved Goat Yoga. Now it's time to bottle your hooch. This is my favorite part because it's the end and it's time to fill these amazing bottles from Otis Classic, and step back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Pretty little maids all in a row. I love these bottles because they are a perfect size, and have a durable gasket that allow you to reuse them over and over while holding in all the fizzy goodness. I strained out the elderberries with a mesh strainer lined with a thin layer of cheesecloth, and then funnel it into these 16 oz swing top lid bottles. Easy Peasy. Some of you may have noticed that local supermarkets carry a various assortment of flavored Kombucha. Don't fall victim to the easy way out because rest assured, during the pasteurization process, all of the beneficial properties are killed, and you are essentially left with kombucha flavored drink. Brew your own, so that you can take advantage of all that Kombucha has to offer. Before you start to chug the Kombucha, let me mention the detox "die off". If you are not accustomed to fermented drinks, some people will experience a detox die off, which is due to overgrowth of Candida or other yeast in your body being regulated by the Kombucha. Although I have never experienced this, it can manifest in the form of cold like symptoms. When I began introducing Kombucha into my diet, I did so at a rate of 4-6 ounces a day and worked my way up from there. I have always eaten fermented foods like Sauerkraut, and Kimchi, so I think I could have gone HAM with the Kombucha, but I'm not a fan of any side effects, so I played it safe. There you go guys! That is my PSA on Kombucha. Below you will find the recipe that I used, and feel free to put your own spin on the flavoring and let me know what you like best. Thank you to Meadow Sweet Goat, Otis Classic, and Zenobia's Garden for partnering with me on bringing wellness to the masses. Live, Love, and Grow Roots.
You want to brew your tea using whatever method you typically use to brew. Some people do it in a coffee maker and add water, for me, I find it easiest to fill a pot with water and drop the tea bags in. Once the water comes to a boil, remove it from heat and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Remove your tea bags and add your sugar, mixing thoroughly. Allow your tea to come to room temperature. DO NOT add your scoby until your tea has reached a temperature no greater than 80 degrees. Cover your tea with a tea towel or coffee filter and secure it with a rubber band. Store your tea away from direct sunlight and with some air flow. Don't worry if your scoby sinks. My first brew had a perfectly floating scoby, but my second and third sunk to the bottom. Your scoby can brew perfectly well at the bottom. After a week begin to taste your brew to see if it has reached the desired fizziness. If it has, you can bottle as it is, or continue on with the second brew. Don't forget to reserve a cup of your brew to go into the new brew along with the scoby and don't forget that you never want to store your scoby in the fridge Enjoy your new Kombucha, and if you plan to brew more, go ahead and get started, that way it's ready when you finish what you already have. If you want to wait, be certain to store your Scoby in a sterilized glass jar and cover it with a cloth or coffee filter.
I have been fascinated for the last 5 years or so with living in a camper. You heard me. I don't need a lot of space, just my roots and the road. Unfortunately, life hasn't allowed this to happen just yet, but I suppose I can always dream right? I think I've always had the inability to stay in one spot. The fact that I have been in the same home for 8 years often times feels foreign. If I have been away from where I usually lay my head at night for a while, and I come back to the roof over my head, I never feel that sense of "it's so good to be home". It feels good to be somewhere familiar, and comfortable and safe, but the idealistic feeling of "home" has managed to find itself sucked into the vortex of my mind, sort of like that place in the laundry room that sucks up a single sock that used to be a pair, except in your brain. Wherever it is in that vortex of my mind, I imagine it's swirling around with the lost sense of when it is appropriately sound to say "fuck" or that feeling of death being more than just a pain in the ass for everyone still living. For those close to me, you know that the particular vortex I'm referencing houses, lots of appropriate feelings that most likely will never to be seen heard from again. It seems to be in my bones to experience new places and call them home. For years and years, I almost felt as though something was wrong with me. I always had this feeling of guilt in my gut as the oldest root was growing up. Would she ever feel secure if I continued to live from place to place? I look back at those feelings now, and I'm much more perplexed now, at the guilt I felt than I am the fact that we moved 12 times in 10 years. I will say that several of those moves were unfortunate events that were out of my control, but I never really thought much of it all the same. Except for the time, our entire apartment building burned down. That added a whole new spin to "I need a shower, but I have no clean underwear". Needless to say, I suppose I have settled a bit, but I still am not a home owner. I have amazing property owners whom I pay a monthly fee letting us call this place "home" and when something is broken and we can't fix it, I give them a ring and they show up. Some people say that renting is wasting money, but I don't necessarily see it that way. For a monthly fee, I get a roof, AC/heat, my children have a yard to play in, I'm allowed to be free with my front yard garden, and once when my bank account was hacked and I was suddenly overdrawn by several thousand dollars, they waited patiently for the bank to fix it. To me, it's worth it for now. I don't know that I'll ever be one to feel the need to own a home. A camper? YES! A home? Well, isn't a camper a home? Not only is it a home, it's a home that I can take anywhere I want to. I pay a little money to park it somewhere magical, and there we are. Home. I can just imagine a life where I wake up with the roots nearby and for a brief moment, as I wake, I forget where I am. I think for some people that may be a nightmare, but to me, it seems nothing could be better than waking up and realizing you are somewhere altogether different than you thought but equally amazing. So, for the past several months, I have been slowly working on the RootMobile and making sure that it is roadworthy and pull ready because when spring rolls around, I will be fully prepared to set out on some adventures. I think Colorado will be my first stop. You see, 9 years ago I met another soul that was like mine, but not really. I was selling a pair of shoes on Craigslist, and I literally found a soulmate with not only the same shoe size but almost the same name. We have kept in touch online over the years, but have never met in person. We are like minded souls and we always talk about how we will meet one day. So, maybe I'll start there. After that, I want to go to Wyoming, and then Maine during the leaf peeper season. I want to see Mackinac Island and Torch Lake in Michigan. I want to park my camper and wake up to the foggy mountains and then next wake up on a warm beach before my mind recalls being there. I'm getting a bit of a late start on seeing the world the way I really want to, but with age comes the intense appreciation for the beauty that the world has to offer. It's sitting there and just begging to be noticed. I have a sneaky feeling that my middle root has the same vortex in his mind. Every time we are camping, it's as if a light switch has been flipped and the lights are turned on inside his soul. He is a grateful, loving little root, and his senses are in full swing when he is outside and breathing in all of the wild air. Maybe for some people, it's just in their being to never be still. Lifelong perpetual wanderers. I no longer feel guilty about what makes me wander or why I feel the need to do so, instead, I just accept the way I'm made and acknowledge that I have something to give and maybe it's not to be shared only with the people near me. I have big dreams, ideas of grandeur, and a wild and loving heart. What's so wrong with that? So let's take a trip. Where do you want to go? Live, Love, and Grow Roots.
And when I say fired up, I mean Fired UP. If you have ever tried Fire Cider, there is no question as to whether or not it's a sinus clearing experience. With the ingredients involved in this concoction, the list alone might make you begin to sweat, but with that in mind, grab your big girl/boy panties and let's get ready to turn up the volume on fighting off the Fall and Winter yuck and prepare to spend your time enjoying the change of season. One of my least favorite things on the planet would have to be the overuse of hand sanitizer. Seems to me that when I was growing up, people seemed to be sick far less often with the common cold and flu like illnesses, and I certainly don't recall there being a pump full of hand sanitizer at every turn. Hell, I just now realized that there were sanitizing wipes at the local supermarket to wipe down your buggy. I guess it's safe to say that I am not a germophobe. No bad juju to those who are, but I think I missed a good chance at being either a pirate or a devoted member of the Amish community. I typically walk around barefooted inside and out, when I stay in a hotel, I don't break out the black light, and when I am out and about, I don't use hand sanitizer because I wash my hands regularly and I like to think that most people aren't walking around wiping fecal matter on things. Moving on. Another reason I don't stress about germs is that I take added precautions to boost my immune system in several different ways. Let's be honest, I'm not 100% clean in my eating habits, so I take time to make immune boosting concoctions so that when that Moon Pie is knocking at my door, I can shove that bad boy right in my pie hole (no pun intended) and not feel one ounce of guilt. So, what I have to share today, is the hot, spicy, immune boosting Fire Cider and a super easy recipe to follow. Before I take you to the holy land of wellness shots, let me tell you a quick run down of how it actually works. Horseradish is one of the main ingredients which is where some of that heat comes from. This tough root has antibacterial properties making it a key player in the fight against illness. It's a natural diuretic, which aids in perspiration, helping you to sweat out a fever and also is a natural expectorant, so anytime you have a congestion issue, horseradish is kicking ass and taking names. Next up is ginger. Ginger is tasty in pretty much anything in my opinion, but in Fire Cider, the benefits are threefold. It helps to ease nausea and vomiting, warms the tummy, making it effective against chills, and like horseradish, it's an expectorate for any type of congestion in the body. Another important ingredient is Cayenne which gives your circulation a little jump start and is also a natural anti-inflammatory. Some credit cayenne as being an effective remedy against the dreaded migraine, although I haven't been one to suffer what I would consider a migraine and thus can't speak to the effectiveness. Lastly, I want to mention Garlic. Most of you have probably heard some of the benefits of garlic. It's an antimicrobial as well as antibacterial, making it useful in the treatment of strep throat as well as ear infections among other infections. Along with the ingredients, I have previously listed, you will find a yummy list of beneficial spices, local organic honey, and of course the base ingredient of Apple Cider Vinegar. I was surprised to find that our local Kroger actually carries turmeric root, so feel free to substitute the powder for the real deal if you choose, but you may want to wear gloves, as turmeric in any form, stains like crazy. To give you all of this information and not make mention that seeing a doctor when you are feeling under the weather is important and invaluable would, in my opinion, be a short sighted thing to do. As I have said many times before, I am not a doctor, and when it comes to children especially, I consult the pros if I feel it's necessary. As an adult, I feel as though I have a bit more control considering I am more in tune with what my body is telling me it needs. Now that I have gone over the main ingredient list, let's get on with the fun part. I have a bizarre love of chopping, grating, slicing, and mincing ingredients and dumping them into a container, so this is right up my alley.
- 1/2 cup fresh grated organic ginger root
- 1/2 cup freshly chopped horseradish
- 1 medium organic onion, chopped
- 10 cloves of organic garlic, crushed or chopped
- 2 organic jalapeno peppers, chopped
- Zest and juice from 1 organic lemon
- Several sprigs of fresh organic rosemary
- 1 tbsp organic turmeric
- 1/4 tsp organic cayenne powder
- organic apple cider vinegar
- raw local honey to taste
- 1/4 cup star anise
Once you have all of your ingredients chopped, grated, measured and ready to go EXCEPT THE HONEY (that happens at the end), find a container suitable to hold it all. I chose a 1-gallon glass container because I double my recipe and wanted to make sure I picked something large enough to house it all. I added a piece of parchment paper under the lid because much like the hot sauce that we would eat from Skips Soul Food years ago (my locals know which hot sauce I'm referring to), that shit will eat the lid right off. As I said before, Fire Cider has ACV as the base, so this is just to keep rust and corrosion from happening due to the acidity. Now that you have everything prepared, mixed up, this is where patience is key. It will take 4-6 weeks to infuse all of the ingredients into the ACV. Some people suggest waiting 8 weeks, and if you are patient, and no one has a need for it, that may only make the results better, however, be sure to give it at least 4-6 weeks. When it's time to strain the mixture, you can do so into any clean container you wish to store it in. I usually use quart size jars. Add in your honey for flavor purposes and to give it all the beneficial goodness that honey offers. I encourage people to use local honey because of pollen changes from location to location. Over time you can become less sensitive to pollen in your area if you are using honey that has been created by bees that have pollinated in your area. This mixture is shelf stable for 12-18 months. Don't look at me like that! Yes! 12-18 months. It's fermented already for goodness sakes, so put your eyeballs back in your heads and trust me. I do a couple of tablespoons of Fire Cider daily first thing in the morning to kick start system, followed by a glass of water. It's only right considering that after that, I drink entirely too much coffee. Now, drink up! A big thank you to Morel Distribution Co. for the amazing Star Anise. It gives the Fire Cider an amazing taste and when coupled with the other herbs and spices, it's a really nice addition to an old tradition. Live, Love, and Grow Roots.
Are we really making a dent in racism today? How far have we really come? I believe as a society, some of us underestimate the power of persuasion and the magnitude of our actions. We think if we sit idly by and watch things unfold, that we will one day suddenly find ourselves in the throes of a world that has changed their way of thinking and has learned to accept what is different. The unfortunate reality is that we can't always relax and watch others be that change we so desperately need, we have to do our part to not only teach our little roots that no matter where other roots begin to grow, they can be transplanted and thrive but also show them how to keep weeds at bay. As a society, it seems that we are currently stuck on deciding which race is the key player in the inability to get past racism. Did the white man start this mess? Are people of color fueling the fire? What difference does it make? We can spend our days spinning our wheels on who does what, or we can be an example of peace and love and pass that on to our children who are the ones that will pay the price for our lack of action if we don't. I'm not telling you to grab a sign and go pound the pavement in the name of ending racism, but I am telling you that the little things matter and your support of the right cause matters. This post isn't about a statue or a flag. It isn't "tolerance" or "acceptance". Those are just words that leave people feeling like they are the problem that people have to learn to live with, and that only pokes the sleeping bear we are hoping never wakes. Instead of "tolerating" someone that isn't the same color as you, try embracing those differences and be an example for those who may be looking for something or someone to show them a different way than what they have been shown in the past. I stumbled upon this shirt on Etsy by DisComfort Zone, and it spoke to my inner optimist. I refuse to believe that people as a whole are deplorable, but most likely just misinformed and sometimes it can take something as small as a shirt to give someone a different perspective. One of my favorite quotes of all time, that always resonates in every facet of life for me is by Mahatma Gandhi, "Be the change you wish to see in the world". Don't just talk about it. BE IT! In your actions, be it, and in your heart, be it. Sometimes what changes the world isn't the words you say, but the ones you don't.
It's coming up on that time of year again, and for us, that means it's time to heat up the kitchen and make some magic happen. One of my most favorite things to make every year is a supply of Elderberry Syrup to get us through cold and flu season. For those of you for whom the kitchen is not your favorite place to be, don't bail out on me yet because this recipe is easy peasy and it takes very little time, not to mention, you would spend far more time feeling crummy when the flu hits if you don't have this magic elixir on hand. Let me first give you a little information on what Elderberry Syrup is, and how it helps. Tune in Tokyo because I'm giving you the goods right here and it's already September. I think we can all agree that our immune system is very important, and as being solely responsible for fighting off infections, we need to treat it accordingly by doing what we can, to make it a powerhouse for our system. While the clinical trials are in short supply on how elderberry syrup fights the flu and builds the immune system, I'm a believer. The roots and I use it every year and while one of us has had the dreaded flu one time in the last 5 years, it happened to be the year that we weren't using Elderberry as an immune booster ahead of time. There have been reports that have shown how Elderberry actually works on the immune system to help it stay in tip top shape. For starters, it enhances Cytokine production. What the hell is that you ask? Cytokines are the proteins that are responsible for the immune system's response to disease and infection. Several studies indicate that elderberry extracts may help to activate the immune system by increasing inflammatory Cytokine production. Next up, Elderberries are packed with antioxidant flavonoids. Flavonoids are chemical compounds often found in leafy greens and all that Kale that the experts say you should eat, except when compared to kale, elderberry syrup is your heavy hitter with the bases loaded kind of good. Anyway, back to flavonoids. Basically, flavonoids fight off allergens and pathogens and help fight free radicals from damaging all the beneficial cells in your body. For some reason the fighting of free radicals makes me feel like I've been arrested at a "damn the man" rally, but I have to stay focused so I can continue to bring the wellness to the people. Lastly, we have viral suppression. Some studies have shown the Elderberry to have the ability to block out infection by actually stopping viruses from making their way through the body. Here is your real Ghostbusters circa 1984 moment for ya. The author of one particular study says that the elderberry extract somehow coats the exterior of the virus, rendering it powerless. The unfortunate truth about all of this is that there is limited funding for proper studies for reasons that will have to wait for another post on another day. For now, I will move on to the recipe for Elderberry Syrup. Keep in mind that it isn't an exact science and sometimes I will add extra this or that, but the Elderberry is the hero here so make sure that you stay true to that part. I doubled my typical recipe because I have an extra root this year that will be partaking, and last year we ran out. I will let you be the judge on whether you want to double it.
- 4 cups of cold water
- 2 cups of elderberries
- 1-2 Ceylon Cinnamon sticks
- 1 Tsp fresh grated organic ginger
- Raw local honey 8-12 ounces depending on your taste
- 4 Star Anise
- 1 vanilla bean (if you are feeling fancy)
Combine all of your ingredients EXCEPT your honey. Bring your mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer for 30-40 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and mash your berries in the mixture. Strain the berries and herbs through a cheesecloth into whatever type of prepared container you choose, and squeeze out the juice. I used a 1-gallon glass jar compliments of my local mom and pop store (Brazier's One Stop), and afterward, I scooped all of my berries into what my partner in crime for the day, Marian, called a potato ricer. For those who may think I am some sort of domestic genius (looking for raised hands), I truly had no idea what the hell it was, but my sweet gal from Gallahar gave it to me and it worked like a charm allowing me to extract every last drop. Wait about 15 minutes and then add your honey, stirring until it's completely dissolved. Let it cool to room temperature and then store it in whatever way you see fit. Freeze it in ice cube trays or pressure can it if you like, but make sure you keep enough on hand in your fridge to start dosing up. It will keep in your fridge for several months. Some people say they take a tablespoon a day through the week and skip the weekend, but I use this stuff on bagels, waffles, and even ice cream, so I would venture to say that a daily dose would be just fine. If you die, it isn't my fault by the way. I'm not a doctor or a scientist. I'm just a person who reads A LOT and spends lots of money in overdue book fees. It's called free will people! Now its' time to share where I get my wonderful ingredients. This season, I have been using elderberries from The Frugal Shaman. I absolutely love his Etsy shop and he is super helpful if you have any questions. He offers organic and wild harvest varieties of elderberry and will be more than happy to help you decide which works best for you. Also this year, I decided to switch it up a bit on the cinnamon sticks. After doing some extensive research on the Ceylon variety, I hopped on over to SLOFOOD Group and picked up some amazing Ceylon cinnamon sticks and also a vanilla bean to add to the flavor profile of my syrup (I was feeling fancy). Shawn is very helpful and knows his spices He's not hard on the eyes either, but don't tell the man root I said so. There are several differences in the "fake" cinnamon you buy in the store which is called Cassia, and they "real" cinnamon which you have to hunt for or order online and is not carried in most big box retail grocery chains. Cassia cinnamon contains a very high concentration of Coumarin. Coumarin is a flavoring substance that over prolonged periods of time or daily use can cause liver and kidney damage among other things. My advice is to head over to SLOFOOD Group and get the real deal because if you are preparing a recipe to help you stay healthy, don't waste your time making yourself sick in the process. Right? Now go get your stuff and get to cooking. Live, Love, and Grow Roots.
No matter how weak you feel at times, I think we can agree that you are resilient. If you are alive and putting one foot in front of the other, you are a survivor. Now, you may be a pitiful, self-loathing survivor, but that's ok because we are all a work in progress. I am sitting here typing today because I am a strong, resilient human being and have been able to find power in the act of feeling the hard things and living in them for a while. Once you have done that, you begin to see the struggles for what they are and you are suddenly able to share your experiences with less pain and with intent to help others. Anyone who knows me personally knows that I'm very expressive and emotional and I don't have the ability to stuff feelings down into the abyss and carry on. It's a blessing and a curse, but more a blessing. Just the other day I ran into a friend at the grocery, and what started out as a "Hi, how are you?" ended with happy tears welling up in my eyes because I hadn't seen her in a while. I got into my car to leave and I decided to take a moment to think about why I became emotional. I realized that although I had known this person for years, what she had become as an adult was a beautiful, hard-working wife and mother who loves deeply. Now, some may say that the situation wasn't tear-worthy, but have you looked around you? Look at all the negativity going on and the unrest around the world. Even a trip to the grocery can be a complete cluster fuck of people being impatient and ugly to one another, and you always have the frustrated parent that is screaming at their child for being a normal, inquisitive child. Why can't seeing the beauty is something small bring happy tears to your eyes? For me, it's normal to be happy or sad and there is no right time or place for that to happen and I'm going to tell you why. I was married once before. There are so many things that I can tell you about this less than 2-year union dating back to 2004, but then we would be missing the point. The oldest root and I had been flying solo for a long time and when we stumbled upon this person, my inner starving artist was so intrigued. The root was 6 when we met and 7 when we married and not yet 8 when his abuse toward her came to light in the form of a chronic 3-month stomach ache that no physician could diagnose. I want to take a moment to tell other parents that no matter how many times you tell your child that they can come to you with anything, they simply might not. There is something that happens in your gut that may tell you to inquire about even the worst nightmares. DO IT! Even if you fight yourself over why the hell that popped into your mind in the first place. ASK! That is your animalistic instinct kicking in and trying to guide you to find the invader in your den. Therapy for two, please! Fast forward 13 years, a lot of tears from the root and myself, a family broken, and a 12-year prison sentence for him, and here we are. Don't think too hard on that story because if you do the purpose of the post will pass you by. What I want everyone to know is that terrible shit happens. It's ok to roll around in said shit for a while, to grieve, to be pissed, to punch walls, but then it's time to patch them. Focus! Look inside and pick apart all of those feelings because if you don't, they will return time and time again just begging for you to get the scalpel and dissect the darkness inside. When you are finished picking them apart, pick yourself up. Get in the dirt, sit at the desk with a pencil in hand, grab the paintbrush, put on some music and dance it out if you need to. A wise man once said, "There's a crack in everything. That's how the light get's in." That is 100% the truth. As human beings, we have all been broken in one way or another. The beauty in being broken is that when you are putting yourself back together, something new and magnificent can begin to take shape. What was once a plate to serve others what they demanded from you, is now a vase that can hold all the beautiful things you choose to add. Resilience is a beautiful thing and the payout can be bountiful if you just allow yourself to feel, break, and rebuild. Right, Root? Live, Love, and Grow Roots.