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.
It's one of my favorite times of the year. Whether it be Fall or Spring, you will usually find us at the ballfield. The middle root has been playing baseball for almost 5 years now, and we have loved it to pieces. There is something about the nostalgia that goes along with baseball that makes it the classic All-American sport. The smell of hot dogs and popcorn, copious amounts of sunflower seeds, and for us, the inevitable snow cone after a victory, and two of them after a defeat. When ball season begins, we are full throttle between practices and games, it sometimes feels as though it's over before it ever even begins. This season I had a moment with my son that has remained stuck in my head and has given me the "I suck as a mother" feeling in the pit of my stomach. We pull into the parking lot of the ballpark, and I'm wrangling the tiny root, getting out ball gear, making sure Charlie doesn't get hit by some random passerby, and trying my best to stay within the confines of my mental "happy place", when Charlie spots one of his buddies and waves to the boy and his mom who, to be honest, isn't doing quite as good at staying in her "happy place" as I am. As I get everyone situated and head up the pathway to what I hope will be a one snow cone evening, I smile to myself because I realize in the moment that I am fucking killing it! I'm still in my "happy place", the kids aren't fussing for any reason, the tiny root still has her shoes on, and I haven't yet encountered the random parent that seems dead set on smoking it up right outside the gate. Then suddenly the middle looks up at me with his dapper freshly cut hair and those big beautiful eyes and says "Why don't you have one of those shirts like the other mom's wear?" My first thought was...Huh? This is usually my first thought on most every subject when he begins to speak. He can clearly sense the confusion and decides to clarify. "You know, the shirts that the moms wear that has says who their kid is." It hits me that he is referring to the classic "Charlie's Mom" shirt that is apparently in the eyes of a 9-year-old is a sure-fire measure of how much you love and adore your little ballplayer. I never skip a beat because if you hesitate, they begin to smell a lie coming. As quickly as possible I come up with a huge load of bullshit and delivered it to him on a silver platter. The first two years it was because he couldn't really read all that well anyway, so what was the point, and the next year I was pregnant with the little root and they probably didn't make one big enough, and this current season I thought he may be too old for it. I waited patiently to see if he was buying it, and he replies "Oh, okay. Well, I'm not too big." HE BOUGHT IT!!!!!! At first, I felt a bit of relief because he didn't feel any less loved than the mothers who boasted about their children without even saying a word, but then I started to feel the guilty "gut rot" coming on. I watched that perfect boy on the field, beads of sweat on his little-freckled nose, a smudge of dirt across his cheek and I pondered why I had never opted to tell everyone at the ballpark that that handsome devil out there was mine. I didn't have to think long, at best it was a marathon 30 seconds from start to finish. It's because I'm a sore loser! God forbid we are in the bottom 9th, bases loaded, 2 outs and my perfect middle root is up to bat and strikes out, I don't want a soul to know that little asshole is mine! I'm throwing two snow cones worth of money at the dugout and he can find his own way to the car. Seriously, I only kid. The truth is, it just isn't my style and while I can appreciate parents desire to let everyone know who their little ballplayer is, I know who my middle belongs to, and that's enough for me. After the game was over, we headed back home and he never mentioned the t-shirt topic again, but the "guilty gut" never went away. While it is enough for me to know that Charlie was my little ballplayer, it clearly wasn't enough for him. As a general rule, I am a die hard non-conformist and I don't do well when it comes to compromising the things I like and dislike for the sake of others. Even my children. Some may see it as being selfish, but what I am teaching my children is that you don't compromise yourself to make others feel comfortable. That being said, I was browsing around online to try and find a way to show my middle that he not only matters but that I didn't mind showing others that we belong to one another when I stumbled upon the answer to our non-problem. Jewelry! As someone who doesn't dress for different sporting events, I have never browsed around to see what type of jewelry is out there, but low and behold, I stumbled upon SPORT F.A.B by Feather & Bean and boy am I glad I did! The first item I saw was a bracelet that looked just like a baseball and on it was a stamped plate making it a perfect canvas for my little ballplayer's name. I'm not lying you guys when the bracelet arrived, I was so over the moon impressed with the craftsmanship, I immediately sat down to email Krista and let her know how talented she is and that I couldn't wait to share with all of my baseball lovers out there. The best part is that she makes items for baseball lovers, football fans, softball girls, and in several different style options. When I showed the middle that I had found a way to connect us in a way that didn't compromise myself, he asked when he could get one of his own. Needless to say, I'm going to be ordering one for him with his number stamped on it for Christmas. Thank you to SPORT F.A.B for making a way for the boy and I to claim one another. 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.
Well, duh! Of course, you are, and as someone who spends their day being "the bomb", you will eventually find yourself needing to relax and enjoy some "me time". I have been pondering for months about trying to make different things with herbs and flowers aside from just your average everyday cup of tea. With bath time being one of my favorite parts of the day, I have bought many a bath scrub, but as someone who is wired to say to myself "well I can make that", it's hard to drop my hard earned dimes on such things. One thing that has caught my eye as of late, are bath bombs. This big balls of fizzy or non-fizzy (depending on what you like) goodness can contain a myriad of fantastic ingredients and when I see the ones with dried flower petals, My soul starts to sing. So when I got a shipment of herbs and things from The Nevermore Coven, I decided to first take some Chamomile and make a cup of tea before doing a little research on how to make my own bath bombs with the same Chamomile. By then we are working on the end of a Saturday afternoon. I have pulled weeds, wrangled two roots that have been affected by the pending change in weather, FaceTimed my oldest root whom I have missed this week, taken photos for upcoming posts, wiped butts (she's two for goodness sakes), and started dinner. Yes, I washed my hands! If I was going to take on this endeavor, it wasn't going to have to be uncomplicated, because while I do love my evening bath, I don't want to spend more time making the bath bomb than I would typically spend soaking away the daily stressors. Otherwise, I'm dropping the ball so to speak and spending that time in what will by then qualify as a much-needed bath. I finish reading a few recipes and decide on a combination of several different ones because I had the ingredients handy. I grab my ingredients and away I go.
- 1 cup of Baking Soda
- 1/2 cup citric acid (you find it in the canning supplies or order online)
- 1/4 Tsp of one and 1/8 tsp of the other (see what I did there) whatever smelly smell good essential oil you prefer. (I used a combination of Lavender and Rosemary)
- 1/4 cup oats (quick cook steel cut organic or a store brand minute oat depending on what you like)
- Spray bottle with witch hazel
- Organic Dried Chamomile from The Nevermore Coven
- 2 large bath bomb molds (I bought them from Amazon)
Sift together the baking soda and citric acid so that there is no clumping, as baking soda tends to clump up over time. Add in your 1/4 cup of oats and mix really well to be certain that it is evenly distributed. Next, you are going to add in the essential oils of your choice and incorporate throughout the mixture. I used my hands on this part because I could more easily feel the where it needed to be missed a bit more. After you have mixed it really well and the room is smelling amazing, take a few moments to breathe in the bath bomb goodness, because we are almost at the finish line. Add about 1/2 of a tablespoon of your Chamomile to the inside of half of your mold. This stuff gave me pause because it's so amazing. Maybe it was the fact that I was simultaneously drinking Chamomile tea, and despite my children engaging in what seemed to be a replay of the Mayweather McGreggor debacle, I am completely in my zone. Here is where you want to pay attention to what you are doing because it could go South on ya. Spray your witch hazel into your mixture. What you are looking for is a damp sand consistency that will hold together when formed. I used roughly 15 sprays, but depending on the size of your spray bottle, that can be a give or take situation. Pack each side of your bath bomb mold about halfway with your mixture, pressing down to be certain the flowers on the one side are going to stick, and then fill the two halves to the top. I made a slightly convex mound in the middle so that when I pressed them together, there was plenty and I would come out with a nice round bath bomb. Every set of instructions I read, said: "Gently tap the bath bomb from the mold on one side and then the same for the other half of the mold." This ladies and gentleman, is far from the Zen moment that other DIY instructions say you will have, and I'm calling bullshit. What you want to do here is tap one side of your mold and remove it. DO NOT...I REPEAT...DO NOT take the other half of the mold off. Instead, set it on your counter and step away. Fight the urge to see it all in its bath bomb glory and be patient. Bath bombs are going to take 24 hrs to dry completely and hold together. What I decided to do on these is to leave half of the bath bomb exposed to dry a bit and then before I went to bed (roughly 8 hours later), I flipped it over onto some parchment paper and took the other half of the mold off. I can't tell you if it would have worked if I took both sides of the mold off at the same time, but when you have the possibility of having made beautiful bath bombs with amazing dried flowers and essential oils, you don't want to leave anything to chance. Ok, that's bullshit, I broke one of the little fuckers trying to prematurely eject it from its happy metal habitat and then I decided that the "leave it in half the mold" technique would be my thing. With the broken bath bomb situation, I still managed to make two amazingly lovely bath bombs in under 30 minutes, and that is less time than I normally spend soaking, so it was entirely worth the effort. Sunday night, these babies were ready and I thoroughly enjoyed the aroma and the floating Chamomile in my bath while reading and having yet another cup of tea. For those of you out there looking for quality Chamomile or other herbs and teas, I recommend The Nevermore Coven. They know what they are doing and stand by their products. I have since gone back for White Sage incense and it is to die for. I also feel compelled to add that I nor my family discriminate against anyone or their business based on their religion, race sex, age, sexual orientation, or for any other reason. Because of this, I reserve the right to showcase businesses based on their ability to put forth remarkable products. Be The Bomb! Live, Love, and Grow Roots.
For those of you who have never met or even seen the man of our house, let me apologize in advance for not introducing this sweet man to you before. That is your warning that the upcoming post is going to be showcasing the root that makes my heart flutter and my temper flare, and one of his favorite items that keep him happy (besides me of course). He's a rugged man and his swagger is unparalleled. He comes in the room every afternoon with a sweaty back and armpits and exudes massive quantities of sweet and salty. In all seriousness, if you know Shane, you know he is a giver. He loves to help others and while he may be the most forgetful man on the planet, if you remind him, he will show you all the ways in the world that he cares about you. In the 10 years that we have been married, I have only seen his face without a beard once. It was shocking, and I wasn't even sure it was him. After we both had a moment to take it all in, he grew his beard back out and has had it ever since. I'm sure you have noticed the sudden uptick in hipster beards. I've even noticed as of late, that the Amish beard is a thing also. You know, the beard that starts where the double chin begins and just sort of hangs there as if it's glued in place. Very interesting to say the least. I personally prefer and unkempt looking beard. The ones that are slightly wild but maintained all the same. Shane's wild beard has to have some sort of product to be tamed and to condition the hair so that it doesn't get too out of control. The man root is very laid back and will pretty much try anything I bring home and rarely complains. Instead, I will find the product stuffed into his bathroom drawer in the very back. Well, for you all with beards or with husbands who have beards, big or small, I can tell you about one item that has not been shoved to the back of the drawer, and it comes from The Brown Dog Beard and Body. I stumbled upon this company while looking for some new beard oil for the man root to try. As someone who doesn't like cologne of any sort or even deodorant that smells too smelly, I try to look for oils and things for everyone in the house that are scented naturally with essential oils. When I came across The Brown Dog, I immediately was drawn in because of the name alone. Little did I know what goodness was hiding inside. Before I even looked at the products in the shop, I read the "About" section. What I learned is that the owner Greg, who is a Tennessee native and whose products are made here in Tennessee, has a fantastic sense of humor and gift for writing. The description of his company literally made me laugh out loud, so I knew then that I was going to have to dig a little deeper to see what was inside. The name of his company was inspired by his brown dog Bedford, and what is not to love about a man and his dog right? I scroll down to look and see what he has to offer, and I was immediately entertained by the name of each of his products as well as the description. If you have time, don't just stop at the one you think is most appealing to you, make sure that for your own personal enjoyment, you read each and every description because you will definitely benefit from a good laugh while you discover the base oils of each scent. I'm not even going to mention the fact that he has several kits available that offer a bowtie for your dog. If that doesn't getcha, I'm not sure you have a pulse right now, so step away, have some coffee and come back when you have your faculties in line. My focus was quickly drawn to Dirty Dog, which is a mixture of all things Earthy and manly. Greg uses Jojoba, Sweet Almond, Grape Seed, Argan, and Castor as his carrier oils, which are great for conditioning and even controlling the most badass of beards. Shane started using his new oil, and don't let the name fool ya because there was nothing Dirty about it. It smells divine and his beard is looking right. I can't guarantee more make out sessions for you all, but I am saying, it's a possibility and leave it at that. Are you ready for the best part of The Brown Dog and the deal maker for me? The Brown Dog gives 10% of each purchase to Happy Tales, a local No Kill shelter. When you are crafting and selling items that are reasonably priced to begin with, and then choose to donate part of the proceeds to a charity or cause, it speaks volumes as to where the heart of your company lies. I encourage you guys to go here to check out his shop. With the holidays rapidly approaching, what better way to show your fella that it's ok for him to pamper himself while simultaneously getting that rugged beard in check. Now before you leave, scroll down a bit and gaze upon the majestic creature and his magical beard, and as always, remember to shop locally. Live, Love, and Grow Roots
I believe it goes without saying that most people nowadays realize that there are many health benefits related to honey. It's delicious to eat, good for your skin, and the healing properties are endless. But, did you know that the benefits of burning beeswax candles are both helpful to your respiratory system as well as clear the air of junk that you don't want in your lungs? Indeed. I would like to preface this by saying that I am not a physician, nor do I play one on TV, but what I do bring to the table is a lifetime with Asthma, and experience with doing the wrong things and then educating myself in ways to remedy this problem holistically. I'm going to begin with the bad stuff, then cover a brief chemistry lesson because let's be honest here, as I've said before, I am a word vessel for you guys, not a chemist and I want to keep it simple. Lastly, I'd like to cover the beneficial health aspects to beeswax, and what it has done for me. When most of you go into stores in search of something to make your house smell amazing, you will see many different brands and types of candles available. Some are soy-based while others claim to emit low amounts of soot. When you touch them you will even notice that some are more greasy while others are incredibly solid and dry. These are factors that mean literally nada as far as the safety of burning them in your home. Soy candles tend to be softer and more greasy, as are the higher end candles that you pay oodles for. No matter the texture, the scent, or the cost, you are releasing toxic chemicals, including carcinogens into your immediate atmosphere. The sad truth is that you are paying for them twice, once with your money and again with your long-term health. The word soy tends to make people have the warm and fuzzies when they are picking out candles. The best that soy candles have to offer is that in most cases, they emit less soot. Don't let that be a selling point because it makes no difference. The paraffin alone is the enemy here and even the soy candles that claim to be 100% soy, must be processed with some degree of paraffin and let's not forget that 99% of soy is genetically modified for your pleasure. There is also the issue with all of the dyes and fragrances that are in them and while some are natural, the fact remains that most of them are not good for you. Now let's have a little lesson on paraffin which covers pretty much the spectrum of everyday candles that people pick up in most any department store or big box retailer. Paraffin candles are made from paraffin wax which we know is a by-product of petroleum refining. What does this mean? It means that paraffin wax begins its life at the bottom of a crude oil barrel. This substance stands about as good a chance of being something good in life as a drug dealing pimp and has the same characteristics of being highly toxic and environmentally unfriendly. If it is any indicator of the toxicity of paraffin, wrap your brain around the fact that asphalt is extracted before paraffin in the refining process. Ever drive over new asphalt that isn't 100% dry yet. The smell is horrible and you curse the asphalt that flies up under your vehicle thinking that it could be stuck there forever. Same thing with the toxic chemicals and carcinogens released when burning paraffin filled candles, except it does stick to your lungs. I encourage you to educate yourself on how paraffin is made and do so in great detail. There is a process of bleaching and treatment that happens using the harmful carcinogens benzene and/or toluene, among others that go into the making of paraffin, and it's just too lengthy a process to cover in one post, and not to mention the fact that it's Monday and people are "half past give a shit" by the end of the day. I don't want to be too overwhelming for the casual reader. Feel free to research this in-depth at your leisure. To test some of what I am telling you, if you are an avid candle user, I would suggest you take a cloth dampened with water and vinegar and wash just one wall in your home, preferably the one closest to the candle you are burning. The soot that you wipe from the walls, is that same soot that is resting in your lungs causing respiratory irritation. I have personally been paraffin candle free in my home for 5 years, and to this day when I enter anyone's home where candles are used on a regular basis (Sorry mom) I cough and hack and clear my throat the entire time. Same goes for those lovely wax melts. Now it's time to cover the benefits of one of my favorite things on the planet and the reason this post landed in the "Life Loves" section of my website. Beeswax candles are one the most pleasant things I use in my home on a regular basis, and I'm going to give you a run-down of how and why these candles are amazing. Beeswax candles actually clean the air while they burn. These magical candles release negative ions when they burn, and while dust, pollen, and other air contaminants release positive ions, they are quickly and effectively neutralized. Sounds like something from a Star Wars movie right? Think of an air purifier that you would buy in a store and run all day long. That is exactly how beeswax works except you can factor in ambiance and the sweet subtle smell of beeswax instead of the constant hum of an air purifier. I'm telling you that from my own personal experience, I can light a beeswax candle in my room and let it burn for a couple of hours before bedtime, and I will wake in the morning free of Asthma symptoms. The same has been said for those that suffer from allergies. Luckily, I don't suffer from environmental allergy issues, but I have read testimonials from people that suffer from pet dander issues as well as environmental allergies that have experienced great relief from burning beeswax inside their homes. Now, before you rush out and search for beeswax candles, let me tell you that you must be careful because in the U.S. the term "pure" can be used very freely on a label and can mean that as little as 51% of the ingredients are actually pure. For the record and for another post, this also goes for the food industry. Scary huh? What you want to look for is the phrase "100% Pure Beeswax". Of course along with anything that is beneficial for your health can sometimes come a hefty price tag. I luckily stumbled upon a couple of shops on Etsy and both provide 100% Pure Beeswax candles that are meticulously handcrafted and are literally one of the most divine things I have in my home, and the best part is that it's affordable and has that amazing pure beeswax scent. Lauren is the creator of Natural Craft Candles, and she is a master of her art, and the real deal you guys. The art of hand dipping and creating beeswax candles isn't a menial task and is a craft that is always a process of perfection. You have to consider the type of beeswax, pollen content, wax season, etc., as well as the temperature. A shift of even a few degrees can make a huge difference in how the candles pour. Every morning I sit at my table to work and have coffee, and beeswax candles are my "go to" item before I ever take a seat in front of my laptop. It literally sets the tone for my day and is something we also do at the start of every homeschool day and during breakfast. We sit, light our candles to signify that it is time to begin, and when we are finished with breakfast we extinguish them. Do we as people always do everything 100% right 100% of the time? Of course not, but I like to think that when we know better, we do better. I'm not in anyway suggesting that this is a foolproof way to help you achieve a better you, but I am saying that I have experienced the benefits first-hand and feel as though the research I have done is consistent with what I have shared with you all in this post. As I said before, I urge you to do your own research and try things for yourself. I'd love to hear from you regarding your experiences with the benefits of beeswax, so feel free to email me or subscribe so that we can stay connected. Live, Learn, and Grow Roots.
We are animal lovers in this house. Even the more level headed root (Shane) will often times say "no Jessica, we can't do any more animals", but when he gets back home after work to find a basket of kittens, he caves because he loves us and secretly loves critters. As of Friday, we have Bruce the Goose Rickman who is the man of the house. He is a wiener dog with a bow tie and a serious love of kisses. We also have 5 chickens, Whitney, Bobby B, Emmie Lou, Oprah, and Shits McGee. Needless to say, Shits McGee isn't allowed on the front porch due to habits that need not be mentioned. Whitney is my coffee buddy, though she opts for a cup of oats. She shows up every morning at my back door when I'm having my morning coffee to have her oats with me and to seek refuge from Bobby B, who has beaked her so much on top of her head that she is slightly bald but not any less adorable. We recently lost our oldest furry pal, Rubie, to old age, and despite being content with the critters we have, in my mind that meant that I could successfully convince the level headed root that we had room for another pet, but for now, I would lay low and devise a plan to counter any resistance which I felt like would revolve around cost to feed said critter versus cost to feed our own human critters. For a few weeks, I took it easy trying not to over exert myself because let's be honest, there are LOTS of cute little animal videos that show up on the internet and between the oldest root and my mother, it was gonna be a hard task not to run out and purchase a dozen bunnies, a herd of pygmy goats, 2 love birds, a house broken racoon, and a bulldog puppy. I was able to reel myself in on more than a few occasions, but then one day while surfing Hip2Save for coupon deals, I stumbled upon a post about Pets In The Classroom. Pets In The Classroom is an educational grant program that helps teachers purchase and maintain a pet for their classroom. The program was established by the Pet Care Trust to provide children the gift of interacting with a pet which may or may not be something they experience at home. The benefit of having a pet in your classroom is an endless bounty. Beyond teaching children the responsibility of caring for animals, you have the opportunity to teach them about their eating habits, reproduction, and why it is that some animals thrive in hot dry climates, while others need cooler temperatures to thrive. The program is literally a 3 step process 1) Do you qualify, 2) Choose your pet, and 3) Choose your grant. The list of possible pets is really pretty great, it gives you several different things to choose from such as a rabbit, guinea pig, fish, several reptiles and birds, even a Taranchala was listed (That's a hell no from me). I filled out the application, and within a few weeks, I received a letter saying that we had been approved and would soon be receiving our vouchers to take to Petco which was the grant I chose. Needless to say, I was beside myself because I was now about to be armed with the perfect ammunition I needed to take to Shane. What would his tactic be? He couldn't use feeding cost as a downside because not only does the program come with vouchers the animal and its habitat, but it also comes with coupons for food, and every year this is a renewable grant which means that even if you have already been approved for the initial grant to purchase your pet, you can reapply each year to sustain the animal. Bottom line...He's screwed. Unfortunately, Pets in the Classroom is currently not set up to fund pets for homeschoolers YET, but because of the way we have ours set up and the way I do reporting of attendance through a particular umbrella school, they consider me an employee of that school and, as such, a teacher, which to my children, I am certainly that. Within a week of getting our approval letter, I received my vouchers, and now it was time to take it to the husband and see what he would say. The truth was that he didn't say much at all. When I told him that my selected animal was a Bearded Dragon, he seemed sort of surprised but then I could tell that he was a little happy inside that I didn't bring home another random litter of kittens. Yesterday morning, myself, the two littles and my "down for anything" friend Marian piled up in the vehicle and headed North to see if we could seek out the animal of my affection. We get to Petco and there he is, in a tank with 2 other bearded babies. I am immediately drawn to him because he cocked his head at me and he had catfish eyes, you know, the kind of eyes that are farther apart than seems normal, like Brittney Spears type eyes. Anyway, I take my coupons and my new dragon and hit the dusty trail back to root base camp. I think about a name for a while. The middle root is the one that typically names the pets inside the home because he gets so offended if we don't respect his creativity, but for fear that we may end up with another 3 parter name like the late Johnny Sawyer Davidson (may he rest in peace), I was taking on the naming task all on my own. I watched him find his food and bask on his log and splash in the little water pool, and because my brain wheels work in an odd way, I say out loud "Check out the big brain on Brad" (I'll leave out the next line). For those of you who aren't familiar, that is one of the best lines in Pulp Fiction. Then it suddenly hit me. Brad! It's perfect, and because Samuel Jackson also has the catfish eyes, it seemed like destiny. The middle root took to the name immediately because he is a fan of human names for animals. In an instant, we had a new family member and we knew exactly what to call him. All evening we sat in the living room and watched him scamper and play. A couple of times we caught candle flies and put them in there for him to eat and he loved it. The best part is that Shane is completely enthralled himself and as always, is a good sport about our new addition. Thanks to Pets In The Classroom for making classrooms everywhere a little more fun. For my educator friends out there, this is not an application that is first come first serve. If you meet the criteria, you are approved. I encourage you to fill one out during their enrollment period, which ends June 1st, 2018. Here is the link to their page, and if you have any questions, they also have a Facebook page and are very quick to respond.
I've spent the last several days trying to ponder how I want to approach the latest happenings in Charlottesville. I knew when I began this page that I wanted to try and stay away from any political or wildly controversial topics because I have learned that as a general rule, people cannot control themselves when opinions aren't the same, and I don't want this site to be a platform for debate. Last night Shane and I were talking about how things have been escalating daily since the tragedy in Charlottesville. I expressed to him the need for me to say something, but neither of us could really speak about it without it being a display of raw emotion, and as I said, that isn't what I want to conjure in anyone. The media alone has done a far more superior job of evoking emotion, fear, sadness, anger, and violence than anyone and I don't need to add fuel to that fire. Then it hit me! I want to place blame where I feel like a large portion of it is due. The media. I think it's no surprise to anything that the media is a spoon in the cauldron of controversial topics in America. Whether it's racism, fascism, sexism, homophobia, the latest school shooting, or the sudden fear that Americans are just days away from searing their eyeballs right out of their heads, there lies the media stirring away and dying to tell you what to do or what to think. Don't get me wrong, people aren't always swayed by what they see and how it's portrayed, but for lots of people that are just waiting for something to cling to, or young adults that are still trying to find their way and form their opinions, this shining silver platter from which they serve their information is very tempting. I'm not suggesting that media reports aren't truthful per say, we know that in recent months, there have been several incidents of the mistreatment of people of color at the hand of those who are meant to protect us, and we also are aware that while gay marriage is very much recognized as a legal union, the shooting in an Orlando night club reminded us how far we still have to go to learn to love one another. Racism has existed since the beginning of time. There has been, and unfortunately will likely always be some group of people that will feel the wrath of others convinced that they are superior or a group of believers that use a piece of literature to condemn and judge others but ignoring the instruction not to do so. With all of the shit in the world that is going profoundly wrong, why do we feel the incessant need to report report report on what has been done and not on what can be done to promote change in the hearts of others? Why can't reporters take to the scene with sincere concern in their hearts and report on what happened and what we can do as American's to better this division in humanity? The reason is, that that shit doesn't sell. What sells, is the fear factor and the anger factor, and the racism factor. The media are there for one purpose. To stir an emotion in those watching their shit show. The happy stories matter to, right? Sure, when watching the news, you are most likely going to see the occasional celebrity visiting sick children in a hospital, or the big hearted humanitarian that has devoted every Saturday to deliver sandwiches to the homeless. It makes viewers feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but just as they are getting their pen and paper out, hoping for a phone number to call or a website to check out in order to themselves make a difference, BAM! Shooting in East Nashville that is thought to be race related flashes on the screen and suddenly your "do gooder" focus has been robbed from you and you are now so incredibly pissed off, that you sit there stewing about how people are despicable human beings that are sure to disappoint sooner or later and after a 10 minute slot on a 30 minute newscast leaves you feeling depleted, you never remember what the hell it was you got that pen and paper for in the first place. Ah yes, just when you think people are going to try and make a difference, the media comes in clutch and mind fucks you just in the nick of time. Oh well, there is always the option to send a text and donate money without having to get up and do anything, that'll have to work for now. I myself have been without cable for the last 2 years now, and without a doubt, I do not miss it. I am always the last to know about current headlines, and I'm ok with that. I get on my laptop almost daily, and about once a week read current events, but by the time I do, the hype has typically died down and what you are left with is a bare bones version of what happened which is the way I like to find out what is going on in the world. In my world and in the world I create for my roots, there is no room for racism, sexism, fascism, homophobia or any other sort of discrimination. I refuse to live in a world where any sort of disgust for another human being is something I feel in my bones and carry with me, and I for sure don't want my children to carry the burden of hate in their heart. I want to encourage others to get out from in front of your 6 o'clock newscast and be proactive about making a difference. How can you do that? I have no fucking clue. I'm a word vessel you guys, not a fucking genie in a bottle. I personally started by explaining to my children what happened recently in Charlottesville, sparing the specifics because while we have the opportunity to have a teaching moment here, I don't feel the need to explain the grimness of it all and have their little minds get stuck on that and miss the message that will follow which is that we are meant to love one another despite differences. I will tell them that we love them unconditionally and with 100% truth. I will teach them that people of color are equal, and not just "equal as long as you don't marry a black woman/man." I will teach them that gay people are equal and not just "equal as long as you aren't dating the same sex". For myself, I will be proactive about promoting peace, and in doing so I will also be certain to taste my words before I spit them out. We aren't fence riders in this house, and we don't love half way. I'm sure we will continue to be exposed to news and media propaganda, but we will also continue to treat it like what it is, which is a souped up version of facts delivered to you by networks hidden agendas and paying sponsors. In the words of the great Mahatma Gandhi, "Be the change you want to see in the world". Live, Love, and Grow Roots.
My first memories as a child were living in a little country home in rural Leoma, TN. I recall loving a particular pair of denim overalls and one day I hopped off the tailgate of my dad's Chevy truck, and caught my favorite overalls on the corner, ripping them beyond repair. I cried. It was a deep cry from my gut, as though I had lost something so close to me that I would never come out of my grief. It's hard to explain to my older and younger roots, that something that seems like such a big deal today may not be tomorrow when in the moment, we feel so ruined. How do you tell them with such confidence that they will get over it when in truth, you just don't know. Such knowledge we bestow upon our little roots, and with such conviction. That day I distinctly recall my mom picking me up and dusting me off while giving me all the wisdom she could muster about how it was only clothing and could be replaced. I was such a tomboy, it was bound to happen sometime. The home I grew up in was always very tidy, to say the least. I think most everyone who has ever been to visit my parent's home or for an overnight stay would agree that it's almost hard to breathe properly for fear of messing things up. My mom still to this day is an immaculate housekeeper and she passed that gene down to me as well. Over the years I have gone from being that same immaculate housekeeper to letting go a bit and learning that beds don't always have to be made and toys can be picked up when the children figure out that they are losing things and I'm not necessarily the maid 24/7. Is letting go hard? You're goddamn right it is. It's miserable at times. Is this post just about my endeavor to become a terrible housekeeper? Of course not. What it is about is the fact that as children we look at our immediate influences and we are molded by these people and places. It shapes who we are and bends our path left or right, up or drastically down. We carry on in our teens and twenties and we seem to be plugging along like good little roots, but what happens when you realize that all of the people that you held in such high regard are merely human? Your mother, the one you thought was perfection with a terrible attitude 5-7 days out of the month, is human. The father that you looked at and literally thought he was the most handsome, strong, and sophisticated man on the planet was broken inside and just waiting to fall apart, is a damaged human. The teachers you loved so much and put on that wonderful face of strength and power were struggling to make ends meet on a far too minimal a wage, are strong but merely human. The youth pastor at church that was teaching you the meaning of some of the worlds most deplorable words like "wetback" and "nigger" which until then you had never heard before, was a despicable racist human hiding in "the house of the Lord". Over time I have come to realize that our opinions as children are so altered by the sometimes feeble attempt to shelter us from the real world. As we become adults, those shelters fall away, and like a chisel to ice, it chips away at what we once thought was reality and leaves us feeling empty and confused. For me, finding my way to my true self has been an up hill battle. There have always been little pieces of me that shine through, but just below the surface are the pieces of me that I know are there that until now, I have left dormant. The ability to let go and start to actually live in the moment, free of concern for judgment or persecution is liberating. I spoke to an old friend of mine a couple of months ago and we were talking about my hair and dreadlocks. She said, "you have always loved dreadlocks". She was right! I had always been fascinated by the natural appearance and the journey of patience that it takes to cultivate a head full of locks, but I always felt as though others were in charge of my decisions. Would employers frown on me at interviews? What about my children? Would I embarrass them with my hair, my language, my writing, my clothing, my complete inability and lack of desire to conform? I think for me, what is important is to show them that what they see right now is truth. When they grow up and look back on their childhood, they will see that they feel the exact same way about me now as they did then because there are absolutely no surprises. I am sometimes a mess. I am human, a truly free thinking freely feeling human being. I laugh, cry, get pissed, calm myself, I drink beer sometimes, I talk to my oldest root about controversial topics and share with her my life stories, like the time I dropped a joint in the yard in the middle of the night and giggled uncontrollably while I searched for it. I teach them to be responsible with money but not lean on it like it's all that matters in life, travel and see things, have an open mind and accept others with kindness unless they hurt you, and then phone a friend for backup. Hug people often, and it doesn't matter if you know them well enough. They will feel your energy and they will be changed by your heart. Work your ass off at something you are passionate about. Am I a hard worker? Hell yes! For years I have always thought that I had a terrible work ethic, but now I see that it isn't that at all. I never knew my true passions in life until adulthood, and I discourage people from staying in a position that they feel unhappy with. Life is meant to be lived, not survived. I try every day to let go of my childhood and teenage preconceived notions about what is true and what is fiction and to exist in my own personal truth, teaching my roots that they will thrive much better in their truth as well, and they will sooner find their tribe in life if they put their whole truth first. For now and for always I'm going to let my freak flag fly, wear my favorite t-shirts, forget about the crap, remember all of the beautiful shining moments from both my childhood and the moments to come, and above all else, live, love, learn and grow roots.
I think for the most part I would consider myself as someone who loathes shopping. I detest having to enter a big box store and I love love love to save money. I think we can agree that those three things are not an easy task to accomplish in harmony. I am very much into shopping online and I think that most people have at one time or another been introduced to Amazon and all of its glory. Free two-day shipping with a prime membership is pretty much the best thing on the planet, especially when you have family that is willing to split the annual cost of prime and share it. It seems as though the newest thing going in the world of e-commerce are subscription services. If you take the time you can find anything from a BirchBox makeup and skin care sample subscription service, to BarkBox which offers your pets a monthly reason to not bite the mailman. What's really cool about some of these services is that most often times you can save some money off of retail prices, customize how often you want to receive products, and for some you can pick and choose what type of item you are most likely to use. Amazon currently offers a subscribe and save option which offers an extra percentage off for purchasing through their subscription option as well as another discount if you have 5 or more items you subscribe to. I have tried BirchBox, Barkbox, Amazon Subscribe and Save, BookCase, and a few others, but for the sake of keeping this post something you can read in one sitting, I'll just cover the aforementioned. After I cover one of my newest and loved subscription services, I will go back and cover the ones that I have tried and I will give you the low down on how they work, what they cost, what you get, and how easy it is to cancel the subscriptions if it's not to your liking. Ok, now on to my new love (drumroll please).......Grove Collaborative. Grove Collaborative is a really cool subscription service that offers an amazing variety of items from cleaning and laundry supplies, to personal care, paper products, and even commonly used essential oils. As someone who is an avid couponer, I can tell you that these items are not only priced below retail price but they consistently beat the prices Amazon offers on the products I use. Could I clip coupons, go to the stores, fight other couponers trying to beat them to the punch, and hope to parlay my love of couponing into free items? Most likely, but with the prices as they are on Grove Collaborative, I am guaranteed the items I need and love and they are delivered right to my door on a schedule that I pick. I know lots of mom's that can identify with the perk of not having to drive all the way to the store because you just ran out of laundry detergent, and one of your roots has a ball game the next morning and no clean pants. With Grove, it's there before you run out. You have the ability to rush your order if you are running low on an item, or put it off for another week if you have plenty to work with for the time being. Typically I don't rush into subscription services because honestly, I have a terrible memory and unless I write down the dates by which the subscription will renew, I am always surprised by the charge on my bank account. So, what I have to do is write down on my wall calendar when a subscription service will renew so that if I am not really feeling it, or I'm just trying it in order to give my opinion to you all, I can cancel. You will find that most services have no problem with you canceling at any time and I have yet to find one that has some hidden fee on their agenda. It's my opinion that they typically pull you in with a great price point or a free gift, and they are sitting back in their cubes, hoping like hell that you are scatterbrained and forget for at least a month or two to cancel. YOU WON'T GET ME!!! Unless you are Grove, and then I willingly cave because as we discussed previously, shopping isn't my bag. So, with my subscription to Grove, they have offered my buddies who may want to sign up an incentive as well. If you sign up through my link here, you will earn some free goodies, as well as receive a $10 off coupon. I wasn't lucky enough to get that coupon, but I did get some cool freebies, so I can't complain. As I promised before, I will hit some high and low points on the other subscription services that I have tried. Let's start with BirchBox. This is a beauty supply service and with their lovely boxes, you receive jumbo size samples of everything from makeup and skin care, to hair care needs as well. What I love about BirchBox, is that they almost always offer a good incentive for their newer subscribers to make it tempting for you to try them, and of course, they had me a 2 for 1. You fill out an online profile, and they pretty tell you about certain items that they feel may be helpful for you, and for me, they were right. After signing up, it wasn't long before I got my happy little package from my fantastic rural mail carrier who is always happy to bring my packages to my door with a smile. So here is the part you care about, the price and content. For $10 a month you will get 5 samples that fit the profile you created. Not only will they be products designed to fit your needs, but they will include information on how to use them. My favorite thing about Birchbox is that if you find an item that you can't live without, you will get a discount for ordering that item from them, and I have done that several times. So, if beauty products are your thing, visit Birchbox and they will be happy to assist you. I' going to briefly touch on Amazon because most all of you are familiar with Amazon, but there may be a few that aren't versed in the subscribe and save department. Here is the skinny. You pick an item, you subscribe, and you save a percentage for doing so. You can customize how often you want to receive the items and BAM! your items are at your door. Here is where Amazon falls short in the information department and I fall short in the remembering to do shit problem. If Amazon happens to be running a coupon that you can clip (you will see it right below the listing) and this happens very often and is typically why I choose a particular item to subscribe to, you can save that coupon amount as well as the anywhere from 5- 15% off they give you for subscribing to the item which makes for some pretty sweet deals. However, this will not be a discount for future deliveries. For instance, last month I managed to score 6 boxes of Nature's Bakery Whole Wheat Fig Bar in Peach Apricot for $7.77 shipped to my door, and because there were 12 bars in each box and these are typically just under $4 a box at Kroger, I jumped on that deal like Sea Biscuit and rode it all the way to my front door where I then cookie monster'd the hell out of those things and didn't feel one bit of guilt because hey...they're healthy! Now, unfortunately as time came to renew or cancel, my scattered brain forgot to cancel until I received word that it was on its way and too late. Let me just tell you that that peach apricot fig bar didn't taste nearly as good at $22. So, the moral of this story is that be sure to take advantage of those bomb deals that come along, but write it on your calendar so you don't forget to cancel a specific deal before it becomes a not so bomb deal. Now, on to Barkbox. Barkbox is a neat little service where you can get a monthly box of toys, treats, and doggy happiness for a fee. What is that fee? Well, it's pricey in my opinion, but I'm sure if you have a sweet little furbaby that hates the mailman, this may be something that could turn the tide, unfortunately for us, my furbaby Bruce is more concerned about humping his toys than worrying with the mailman that brings them. Damn wiener dogs! That being said, what you do, is tell the nice people over at Barkbox what size doggie you have and a short profile on your animal and for $29 a month, they will send a cute little box to your door. I tried this service and I liked it just fine. The boxes are sometimes filled with gourmet treats like and Duck flavored chewy sticks and while my dog showed it some serious love, I'm not sure that he wouldn't show as much love for a chew stick that taste like chicken poop, because it seems to me that every time I take him outside, he is on the hunt for this delicacy. I want to add that with this particular subscription service, you are able to save a pretty decent amount of money by committing to a longer term of 6 or 12 months versus a month to month, and if your dog isn't completely satisfied with something in their box, (insert visual of Bruce holding up his paw and saying "Naw this isn't working for my sophisticated palate") they will send something to replace that item. I have to say that that is a perk that I think is really cool. So, would I suggest Barkbox? I'm on the fence. Dogs seem to think it's the bees knees, but they don't pay the bills, and I'd rather throw my pooch a dollar tree stuffed animal, and spend my funds on the next service I will cover. BookCase.Club is a subscription that is geared toward the love of reading, and I LOVE to read. For 9.99 +$5 shipping, you will receive 2 handpicked novels in your choice of genre. For me, Thrillseeker was definitely the genre meant for me. This subscription service is one of my top picks because you never know what is coming, and while the genre is thrilling, there are different elements of thrillers that make each book different. Not into reading per say? No big deal because they have Quarterly Cookbooks as well as Quarterly Military History, and if any of the above doesn't fit your need, there is even a Read To Me children's book option so that you can instill the love of reading in your little ones from an early age. BookCase gives you the option to extend your time before receiving your next shipment in case you need time to finish your first one, so if you are like me and have littles running around and need a little time to finish up, it's no biggie. I truly believe there is magic in the written word and so do the folks at BookCase. Without a doubt, I would say give these guys a go. Even though you have to pay a shipping fee, you are looking at a total of 14.99 a month which is easily less than the cost of two books from Amazon or a bookstore. Sure, you can get tons of used thrift books, but I am one of those people that love the smell of a new book, and knowing that I am the first to crack it open is more satisfying than trying to figure out what the hell a particular stain is on a page of a thrift book. There are several book subscription companies out there, but BookCase is very much my vibe. I'm not looking for tidbits of this and that in my subscription box if I'm wanting books, and for my children, I for sure don't want toys and such because I feel like it takes away from the service itself which is designed to bring you BOOKS. Overall I think subscription services can be great either for yourself or even better, most services offer the option of giving a subscription as a gift which is awesome for those hard to shop for people in your life. Before I end this post I want to encourage those nonshopping shoppers out there to not just take my word for it. What works for some might not work for others, and I am in no way paid to endorse one or another. My opinions are honest and not biased. I will most likely be giving my reviews on other items, so be sure to subscribe to my website so that you can recieve email updates when posts are made.
When it comes to the topic of school, it's sometimes a topic I'd rather not discuss. If you are a unschooling parent, you are often met with a look of disgust. Hell, I've been in the middle of a grocery store trip mid day in the produce section with Charlie while he gathers his list and weighs his items, to look at me dead in the eye and ask me if I was "one of those homeschoolers". That was the first year that I had taken on the task of teaching him myself, and I was very defensive of my decision. Not only was I defensive, but I would think about where I was going and what I was doing during "school hours" because I knew that there would always be encounters with nay sayers who were determined to tell me that my child should be more socialized. Now that I am 3 years in, I feel 100% confident and all of the questions or comments that I receive are welcomed. I want people to know that I am in no way shape or form anti-public school system. What I am, is anti public school system FOR US. I have a lot of people to ask me what type of curriculum we do or what curriculum we use. The beauty of being in charge of his education is that I can decide what exactly it is that I want to teach him. When we first began, I knew that it was important to me to use a Waldorf curriculum. This meant that we did not have any screen time whatsoever. Waldorf is something that you have to be passionate about, especially if you have not always been one to follow the Rudolph Steiner and his Anthroposophical philosophy. It's most definitely a lifestyle. Waldorf education puts traditional academic methods of teaching aside. Instead, most of the programs that are the first to be eliminated by budgeting within a government controlled system, are the crux of Waldorf such as Art, Music, and Foreign Language. We focus on things that required fine motor skills such as crocheting, knitting, drawing, and modeling. Instead of having Charlie to memorize words by sight, and keeping a score on how many books he could read, we didn't teach reading at all. We would explore fairy tales and literature and as his desire to read came about, it was encouraged but not demanded. Under Rudolph Steiner's philosophy, children are to be in an environment in which they feel safe and nurtured, away from harmful influences of broader society. I don't teach based on economic or political motives, but instead from the goal of producing a self-sufficient free thinking individual. I could go on and on about Waldorf and all of the positive things that go along with this method of teaching, but I'd never even graze the surface in one post, so if there are any questions, I'd be happy to try and answer them, but keep in mind, I am no expert. As we entered our second and third year, we began to explore a mixture of Waldorf in the home but more and more we discovered the positive influence of what some consider unschooling. We do have a rhythm to our day but should we decide that based on the flow of things that our time would be better spent on nature trails or at the library, we do that instead. Life is about being able to determine what your instincts tell you to do and following those instincts. Children are very intuitive beings and while they may not be able to determine the exact cause of a feeling, it is my job as a parent to try and help Charlie navigate his own way through life. Does that mean I let him decide if he wants to splash in the creek, or learn how to multiply? Of course not! It is as much my job to prepare him with the knowledge he needs to make his way in life and society as it is for him to follow his inner most intuition about the good, bad, and ugly of life and decision making. Listen, this life isn't for everyone. For starters, we don't spend money lavishly because I stay home to educate my youngest children. There is also a certain amount of weight on the shoulders of a mother or father who take on the task of educating their child and being responsible for their continuing education once their job of teaching ends. When we travel, we usually camp because the kids can use all the time they spend outside actually learning and exploring. Charlie will make his own decisions as to how safe a hill is to climb that hill or hike that steep trail. THAT counts for teaching hours on so many levels. While we are having a fun family camping trip, we are covering Science, Ecosystems, decisions making, and best of all life skills. Charlie will be in grade 3 this year. We will be doing Americal Sign Language as our foreign language at least for this year. We may switch over to Spanish next year once we have completed ASL. We are now implementing small amounts of screen time for him to do his math work but that is all. His reading is at the pace he chooses. If he can read and he enjoys it, I'm not at all concerned as to how many books he completes. Still, in 3rd grade, I will continue to read to him as well as encourage him to have an independent reading time of his choosing of book that he finds interesting. When I teach him poetry this school year, I will forgo iambic pentameter, and instead, teach him that his soul will speak and he needs to follow that. I am happy as a homeschooler or unschooler, or whatever you want to call it. I learn each and every year as we continue our journey, that there will always be tweaks here and there, and I'm totally ok with that. Its my life and the life of my roots, and we are growing just fine.
Having started my dreadlock journey a few months ago, I am very very new to the game. I have watched what may be every available YouTube video out there in order to get as many opinions and perspectives as possible. This is definitely a journey and labor of love for me. What it has taught me above all else has been patience and acceptance of something that to a very large degree is out of your control. I can choose to back comb, palm roll, twist and rip, but when it's all said and done, nature will take its course and I am 100% at the mercy of the dread gods. I do as much maintenance as I possibly can to try and cut down on what I call "fuzzy pineapple head", but with very few options locally, the days of sitting in a chair while someone else does your hair are a thing of the past for me (by choice of course). I have as of this week started to experience some serious shrinking of my dreads, which happens as a result of the locking process. It's to some degree a joyful experience because it means that things are starting to move in the right direction. I am still really not a proud owner of dreadlocks proper, but more the proud owner of dreadlock babies, also known ass knotted strands of hair. Ask anyone who has gone through the process before, and most of them will tell you that your journey is still very new and the babies are far from being grown ups. During this process, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a couple of pretty amazing Instagram pages, one of which totally blew my mind when it came to transforming natural free forming dreads into beautiful works of art. Dollylocks salon in St. Petersburg Florida is literally killing it when it comes to helping people achieve their dream of dreadlocks. When I first stumbled across Dollylocks, it was due to a video I had seen on a dreadlock tightening spray they offer that is completely organic and has a variety of amazing scents, as well as a slew of 5-star reviews. It wasn't until I ordered the spray and tried it out that I began to seek out the maker of this magic spray to let them know how amazing their product was only to discover that they have their very own salon. Even before I realized the power their tightening spray, the description pretty much had me at "Nag Champa". The smell of Nag Champa is one that literally sends me into a flurry of amazing memories and makes my soul soar. The combination of Sandalwood and Plumeria, this stuff is quite literally my happy place. It reminds me of a head shop from my teen years by the name of Stone Mountain, I believe those stores are long gone but have since been replaced by new hipster shops catering to the 20-year-old wandering heart. Keep in mind that if Nag Champa isn't your bag, there are many other scents as well as an unscented option. My next purchase will be the Dollylocks shampoo as well as the refreshing spray, just because I love the scent and I feel like between my wash days, I would like to enjoy a hit of my Nag Champa. I encourage you all to follow Dollylocks on Instagram because they are not only dreadlock gurus, but they are artists of color and all things hair. I plan to make the 11-hour trek as soon as my dread babies hit the one year mark. You will most likely find that post in my Adventures section because I anticipate a camping trip to happen. Until then, visit them here on their website for a complete overview of products they provide as well as contact information and find them here on Instagram for salon photos as well as here for products. You will not be sorry.
When I started this website, it was meant to be a way for me to keep my friends and loved ones connected to me and to the things I love. I said from day one that this was not going to be another one of those pages that promote the typical self-love propaganda that you read every day. I do find it to be of great importance to love yourself and be over the moon with what you are, but to actually tell you that it's ok to be this or that, is not what I'm here for. That being said, I have to address something that has been nipping at my heels for some time and begs to be addressed. When did we become a society of women that needs to be addressed as "real women" in order to be accepted? Clothes for "real women"? What in the actual fuck does that mean? You mean for fat women right? For us heavier gals? In that case, can we just call it what it is, remove the "real" tag, and move on? Why do we feel the need to let the media tear us apart as women? First, it seemed as though fat shaming was the big media pushed issue you would read about, but now what I feel is being done, is the complete opposite. I am a heavy woman and I am no more of a "real woman" than say, someone like my sister who strives to keep her health and fitness in check, and she is no more of a "real woman" than myself. We are equal parts badass. Because I can bear children doesn't make me a "real woman", it just means I have not only the ability but the desire to have children. The career woman who put her education first and opts out of motherhood for reasons that are her own is also just as "real". One of the most common posts I've been seeing float around is the heavier girl doing a yoga pose, which in my opinion is badass on several accounts, mainly because I tried the half moon pose myself, and I think I may have shortened my neck a bit. The entire article was about how she is overweight but still healthy and can do yoga. Well, ok great! Why does it have to be about the ability to do yoga as a heavier woman? It's YOGA! She was amazing in the pose and it wasn't about being a "real woman" anymore so than the super-fit person who can deadlift a dead carcass left from the previous WOD at the local CrossFit gym. They are equally strong women. Imagine the power that could come from women that are a united front without the media perpetuating a vicious cycle of judgment toward one another? What a force to be reckoned with. What we do with our bodies and our lives do not "real women" make. What we do as nurturing beings for the world and for others, is what makes us "Real Women". I'm not here trying to decode some conspiracy about how I feel like society and the media influences how we see other, to me that is just common sense. It's the main reason I don't have cable and I can tell you that my perception of things has changed dramatically. We do not watch the news or mainstream television and maybe for us, it makes it easier to see all things as real and palpable and be thankful for those experiences.