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herbs

Dry it before you buy it

glass screw top jar c/o infinity jars

The rain has saturated California so much that the water restrictions in my county have been lifted! With all the recent rain, and the saving grace of a few days of warm sunshine in between, the wild weeds in my garden and by the river have EXPLODED!

Right now, all the green herbs are plump and luscious. I am drying them bit by bit, and keeping them for the gray days of fall & winter. I know, it is weird to think of that when we have barely crawled out of the cold. But the abundance now calls for harvesting, and as the days get longer and hotter, the herbs begin to draw in to keep cool.

So, my house is filled with hanging bundles! You can’t escape them, and if you are taller than me, it is very likely that you will run into some! Even though I am very aware of drying my herbs away from too much light and any moisture, you will see that they turn brown. Especially the leafy green herbs. That is ok, as long as you store them AS SOON as they are completely dry.  Just a few days longer than necessary in the air can take away from their scent and freshness.

As for storage, I put my dry leaves in plastic bags that I suck the air out of, label them, then put them in boxes in my pantry (which are also labeled). This way they are airtight, space convenient, and in the dark for storage. I have the herbs I use on a daily basis in glass jars on  a kitchen shelf. Unfortunately, my  1950’s kitchen has very little cupboard space, so there is a lot of open storage. Though my vintage mason jars and flip tops are cute, they are not the greatest for storing herbs, since the light gets to them. So, when Infinity Jars asked me to review their jars,  I was happy to.

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Infinity jars have an airtight seal, ultra-violet filtering, and are scent proof. The jars are a deep violet glass, almost black. This pigmented glass blocks light, which deteriorates herbs.  This makes them perfect for kitchen storage of your daily herbs! You can read more about them here, make sure to check out their specials.

The 1-liter screw top jar I have featured here is perfect for my needs. I like the wide mouth, since I do not have a dishwasher and being able to clean jars well is important. It is also much easier to fill! Space is a premium in my little kitchen, this jar is light weight, slender, and tall, so it is easy to fit a few next to each other on the shelf. They even come with labels!

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Here are the herbs drying now, and some uses. Send me your suggestions!

Mugwort: dream pillows, smudge sticks

Peppermint/Spearmint: tea, sprinkle for dog bed, herb for salads & fruits.

Lemonbalm: tea, infusions

Oregano: spice for almost everything I cook! I have so much oregano, I give it away :). Also great for putting in your husbands shoe closet….

Thyme: tea, cooking herb

Marjoran: cooking herb

Happy foraging!

Kill Insomnia. Sleeping in alignment with the Earth’s magnetic fields.

I have been dealing with insomnia for years. Not counting the the “full moon” nights where I do not sleep anyways, I have not slept more than 2-3 hours at a time in ages.

Of course, I have tried all sorts of things: sleepy herbs (hops, chamomille, lavendar, etc), melatonin & co, exercise, no exercise, sleep pillows, sleep routines, alchohol, no alchohol, feng shui, old mattress, new mattress, natural latex mattress cover…My bed has literally been in every room of this house except the living room.

Mentioning the living room: I always sleep best on my old (20 years), patched up and knobby couch. I am sure it harbors 20 years of dust in it’s thick, engulfing pillows. When I lay on it, my head points East. Read on to see why that matters.

Recently, I was researching Feng Shui sleep positions by Kua number. If you want to spend a few hours on the computer and get transported to another world, find your Kua number (just Google, it will help you find & calculate), and then read how you should ideally sleep, sit, function, and goddess forbid, don’t DO ANYTHING IN YOUR ADVERSE DIRECTION!!!

My adverse direction is North.

My head was pointing North when I sleep. I sit at the table facing North all the time.

I must now rethink my allegiance with The Northerners of Game of Thrones.

And by the way, my husband’s direction is not at all compatible with mine. Neither is his horoscope. I need to rethink our 20+ marriage.

No wonder I am a sleepy, chaotic mess!

Honestly, I began assessing my life, and have decided to drop the Kua thing, otherwise I may get depressed. There is no way I can swing that. BUT….I am definitely avoiding facing the North as much as possible.

More research shows that several cultures feel that the best way to sleep is to align your body with the magnetism of the Earth. Now, THAT makes sense to me. The ideal direction is East to West, with your feet pointing West. Again, just Google “east / west sleep postions” and you will get lots of opinions. 🙂 Read with an open mind.

View from my new bed position :).

If you are doubting the strong pull the Earth has on us, reading this absolutely fascinating study about dogs pooping in alignment with the Earth’s magnetic fields.  Yes, my friends, it is a thing.

I decided it was worth a try, and during a recent sleepless night I moved my bed once again. There is no good way to position my bed with my head pointing East in my little room. My whole house is only 900sq/ft, imagine the bedrooms with windows, closets, doors. Plus, you don’t want your head under a window.

What is a girl to do? Forget all rules and awkwardly plop the giant king sized bed in the middle of the room. Text your husband at work to be careful when he comes home at night so he does not hurt himself. Lay in the bed.

Ok, it feels good. I can look out the window, the headboard protects me from light, yelling kids, and exuberant dog.

Maybe this is not so bad?

I am sleep with my head pointing East for a week now. Some nights are fantastic, some are shitty as always. I am going to give it a few more weeks and report back, hopefully aligned with the Earth and well rested.

A Witch comes out of the Closet

I love estate sales. When I say “LOVE”, I mean it. I may be a little additcted…..

This is what I just wrote on Instagram:

I found these two crates of fabulous flip-top jars at an estate sale a few months ago. Since I don’t have a dishwasher, the time was never right to get them sterilized until today. As I am sorting and washing these glass jars with their beautiful labels of herbs, I am completely connecting to the woman who owned them before me. Looking at the herbs, how they were labeled (both common & latin names), and the little bit of residue in each of the jars, I know she is smiling now because she knows I found them. Sometimes I leave estate sales knowing that I was meant to go there and find the pieces that I buy, to carry on their magic for the previous owner.

I have had a little change in situation, so now I have time to sort through some of my treasures. At times, I get lucky enough to get the stories behind the pieces. I will begin sharing some of these with you who love a little history mystery :).

This particular estate sales was in a very affluent part of town. Houses were all built in the late ’50’s, early 60’s. I really went to this one because I was “house nosy” (many of the estate sales I go to are solely for the house. Houses are my “thing” :)….I feel them, lol), and because a certain picture on the estate sale listing caught my eye. My mom was here visiting, and if I need a partner in crime, she is certainly it.

When we arrived, the house was already FULL of terribly stressed people and pretty emptied out. The pictures was gone, and I could not enjoy the house vibes because of all icky people energy, so I proceeded out the door through the garage. There was a mudroom stacked with junk and boxes. “LOOK DOWN HEIKE!” something said. I did. The boxes were FILLED with glass jars. A fellow jar hoarder.  When I took a closer look, I saw there were lots of flip top jars, and if that was not enough, they were all labeled with herbs. Not cooking herbs, healing herbs.  Ah, a fellow herb witch! I called my mother so loudly she came bounding from a back room, because NOTHING was going to make me move away from this treasure. As I began sorting the herb jars in new crates, interested people started engaging me.

MINE!

My mama got one the of the people working there, he gave me an excellent deal on what he obviously thought was junk, and I loaded two crates of these babies into my car.  When I went through the garage to get my second crate, I saw 3 wall shelves, custom built, to hold even more large herbal jars!

I memorized the address. Nothing about this house said Herbal Witch, but those shelves sure did.

Thanks to Google and a little snooping, I found my witch. She was actually the wife of a Senator, and everything I found about her publicly was “Senator Wife”. Fundraisers, banquets, foundations….there she was, smiling right at me :). 

Poised & polished, but I can see that twinkle in her eye! In my mind, I see her as a talented healer, that people come to secretly. I can see her going into her garage, opening the closet to uncover rows & rows of beautfiul herbs! I have her in my little book of mysteries, maybe one day I can find someone who knew her personally and who will let the Witch out of the closet!

Revival of the Warrior Princess

I have never had to diet. I have always been healthy & allergen free, so I have never had to restrict what I ate. I had the metabolism of a hummingbird, and HAD to eat all the time, spaghetti at 2 am was a norm for me. My body, over the years, has taken any abuse, mishandling, or  neglect with grace, and carried me proudly and without illness. Until now…


Being over 40 kicked my ass.

I have had some issues stemming from my accident and nerve trauma, and over two years I have been trying to deal with traditional medicine. That did not work at all. Mainly though, I am looking at the state of my muscles, that used t be lean and strong. I did say  USED to be. I often get “but you are older”, but really,  I have seen/met some ass kicking 7o year olds that would put me to SHAME…age is no excuse! My body is getting weaker, and I think it is more the “lazy ass & wrong fuel syndrome” than age. With lazy I don’t mean just exercising, as I a move a lot without dedicating it exercise…I also mean the habitual nourishing: the comfort food, fast food, BAKED goods (I am a sucker for anything baked), wheat.

My gut intuition is telling me that now is the time to make a change, before things get even worse. Putting the medical healing aside, I think this will aid my digestion, my concentration, and raise my sluggish energy level. I also want to prepare my body for the Tough Mudder, my ultimate goal :). Will post some measurements below for good measure (no pun intended).

I have devised the “30 day Revival of the Warrior Princess” plan to get eased into a different way of nourishment & movement.  I wrote it down, as I am not a very consistent human being…It takes 30 days to start a new habit….

1. Modified Primal plan…

Buckwheat & Peaches, with butter

I don’t do well with extremes & restrictions, and don’t believe extreme diets are good for me. I am not a diet, even though 5-10lbs are totally expendable. :)….Since I want to build lean muscle and eat more protein, the Primal or Paleo plans (though both are different) have given me a base, and I am adding in my Weston Price (Nourishing Traditions) knowledge. I am also a type O, if you know about the blood type diet, I should hunt my food and eat it on the fly….aieeeeeeee……..Artemis is my Goddess…..do you see a thread here? My food priorities will go: lean meat or fish, veggies (mostly green), fruits, nuts. I will also eat some ancient grains, and bread, though both minimally and only baked by me. No wheat, only spelt, buckwheat, quinoa. Only fermented dairy: joghurt, kefir. And again, minimally. No sugar. Not sure how I am going to handle ice-cream….

2. 6-8 glasses of water.  Gosh, I stink at drinking enough. I can go a whole day and end up asking “Did I drink anything but coffee today?”. It runs in my family, and I seriously believe I am constantly dehydrated. So, to remind myself, I am devising a ring/band thing to keep me on track. More to come on that. Part of my water consume will be my Spirit Cleanser or Health tea to help cleanse the blood & body, and nettle infusion.  I don’t do vitamins, so this will give my body extra minerals.

3. Go to bed before 12am. I will try.

4. Daily 20 (squats, toe crunches (this is for my ankle/foot injury), ankle rolls), and 15 min of heart raiser (this is intense heart rate upping…not just my dh driving me up the wall).

5. Daily 15 minutes to reflect on Heike….journal, draw, read, snooze…this is MY time behind closed doors. Period.

I won’t bore you with my medical history, and it really only fascinates myself and my mother :)….but I will give you the jist, in case something similar inflicts you.

I have had burning nerve pain for over 4 years, and it stems from nerve trauma from an accident I had when I was 21. I also have muscle atrophy in one leg, the leg that suffered the most trauma. Together, this leads to pain, sleepless nights, weakness & stiffness in the leg, muscle atrophy (the strong leg carries the weak one), misalignment, etc. I have been through acupuncture, medicine, etc. “I” believe I can cure this with healing food & herbs, and that is what I am journaling and proving now.

Here are measurements of my two calves, with I hope to balance within six months of healing food & training:

Left leg: 14 inches
Right leg: 12. 25 inches.

Quit a bit of mass missing.

Even though I mentioned I am NOT dieting, and I am grabbing this belly fat by the britches and kicking it out:

Waist: 33 inches  (maybe it will wander to my chest :)….a girl can hope).
Weight: 143lbs (this will likely not fluctuate too much, may even go up as I gain muscle vs. fat)

phew.

I will start doing some very consistent “use your body as a gym” training outside, rather than continue to go to the gym, but that is another post.

There you go, Beautifuls! Want to join me?

Much love,
Heike

Need a little JOY? Borage will make you happy…..



It’s the time of year when Borage takes over my back yard.

Strangely, a few years ago a little Borage plant with WHITE flowers came into my yard mysteriously, and now it is an annual welcomer of spring. The bees LOVE it, and we enjoy the fragrant flowers right off the plant. They taste like cucumbers :). It is a hardy, and very self seeding plant. At one point, I actually have to start pulling it out because it takes over. Right now, we are just enjoying it.

From A Modern Herbal:



Those of our time do use the flowers in sallads to exhilerate and make the mind glad. There be also many things made of these used everywhere for the comfort of the heart, for the driving away of sorrow and increasing the joy of the minde. The leaves and floures of Borage put into wine make men and women glad and merry and drive away all sadnesse, dulnesse and melancholy, as Dios corides and Pliny affirme. Syrup made of the floures of Borage comforteth the heart, purgeth melancholy and quieteth the phrenticke and lunaticke person. The leaves eaten raw ingender good bloud, especially in those that have been lately sicke.’

I just made my version of Borage soup, which is super simple.

Pick young leaves, maybe about 2-3 cups. Careful, Borage as stingy hair, so handle it like Nettles, wear gloves! Wash the leaves and put them in the mixer. put about 1.5 cups for of low fat plain joghurt, some salt, a dash of lemon juice, and optional, some garlic. Add about 1/2 cup of water.

LIQUIFY!!

Pour into pretty bowls, sprinkle with a little black pepper, and garnish with some Borage blossoms.

Fini!

Enjoy your spring :). And, if you are local and want your own white Borage plants, I am more than happy to share babies!

Attitude of Gratitude ~ Day 7 & 8

Yep, I have condensed two days.

I am grateful for the healthy food I have access to: free range chicken eggs from a neighbor, raw milk, lots of veggies & fruit….I look out into my back yard, and know that in a few months, we can get food from our land.

I am also able to help my kids through this bout of “feverish ickiness” with herbs, instead of having to rely just on chemicals. Yes, it takes longer, as their bodies are healing themselves. Yes, the gratification is not instant, but long-term. I am able to protect myself from all the rampant germs in the house by brewing my own potions :).

So, there it is. I am grateful for germs & their keepers!

The Poor Man’s Food that will keep you healthy….


In Germany, there are so many traditions around spring time!

In Frankfurt, you would know spring is coming when the market stands began selling “Gruene Sosse”, packets of herb that you used to make a traditional food for Green Thursday, the Thursday before Easter. Of course, you can eat this any time you want, the Green Thursday has a reason :).

As the lore goes, the farmers, poor and famished, would always have potatoes that they grew themselves, and their chickens, who also fed themselves, would lay eggs. As the spring rains fell over the land, herbs and weeds grew abundantly. The farmers picked the herbs and weeds, and turned it into a green sauce, which they served over potatoes and boiled eggs. The green sauce was said to have magical qualities, helping the farmers ward of sickness (now we know they were packing the vitamins!), and so it was eaten every year on Green Thursday to keep them healthy all year!

Gruene Sosse

7 green herbs, including parsely, sorrel, dandelions, cress, borage, dill, chives (I had borage & sorrel in my garden, bought the others. Also added Miner’s lettuce, as I happened to find a patch on my walk today :)….in the spirit of the dish).

Chop fine in food processor or mixer. Or go the ‘old way” and hand chop very fine….

Add just enough sour cream to make a thick sauce.

Add salt n’ pepper to taste.

Serve over boiled potatoes (new ones are best) and boiled eggs that have been halved.

Voila! 🙂

Kitchen Witch

Contrary to what many who know me now may think, I did not grow up with a hippie mom, or a Strega Nona :)….my Oma did not whisper spells in my ear, or fly around the moon with her broom. Neither did my Mama :)…I did grow up with two practical women who knew how to harness what Gaia gave them to take care of us. I was also taught to trust my “gut”, and knew that the there was an invisible string tying us together. We always knew when something was wrong…and still do, to this day. And, we are all moonstruck.

As a teenager, I became interested in Tarot. I still have the first Tarot card book my Mama gave me :). But Tarot was not on my path, it was curiosity. My first realization of the Spirits came with Grandma Boehnke, the day she looked out the window to show me the cemetery across the street. She knew she was going to die.

My car accident was my passage. My first conversations were with my Opa, he helped me through many nights in the ICU. I also learned that my dead were not gone for me forever.

The older I get, the closer they can come. My draw to herbs and their healing energy came shortly after my daughter was born, that was my second passage. I was never supposed to birth a child…yet I had two. My son brought me the words that accompany people when they have ailments I am supposed to see :).

If you believe in Spirits, you will know when they are with you. I just spent 2 hours in the kitchen with one of mine, clearly feeling the love :). Someone once asked me if they speak German or English, lol, and I don’t know. We just talk…and then they go. I feel blessed to have them by my side.

As I write this, I am sending them my love and going to finish cleaning my kitchen. I grew up in “kitchens”. My Spirits loved and lived in their kitchens, and I am sure that is why they join me there so often.

Ade’……:)

Self Help

When I had “the” car accident in 1990, my life changed drastically. Over several years, I healed. Not back to my original, pre-accident state, but to a fairly healthy state. I was walking, riding my bike, swimming, dancing. I was not horseback riding, skiing, bungy jumping :)….all this with a broken back.

The last few years have taken it’s toll on my body, much of it is because I do not exercise enough. Getting in and out of a car is not the same as walking up and down 5 flights of stairs several times, eh?

Unfortunately, the last years have also been an odyssey of unsatisfactory diagnosis when I DO go see a doctor. Pain is always blamed on the after effects of my accident. I only go because the pain is so strong that I am ready to jump off a cliff. To this day, nothing has helped. I even tried acupuncture, which was heavenly while I was in the office, but as soon as the needles came out, the pain was back. I was contemplating permanent little needles, I wonder if anyone makes these?? 🙂 I became so desperate that I began taking hard-core nerve numbing medication. It was great for about 3 days. I took it right before going to sleep, and I finally slept for more than 2 hours because I had no pain. I did feel like I partied all night the next morning, but hey, it could be worse.

10 days later my body filtered through that medication and did what it always does, it rejects. It becomes immune, which is precisely why I never need medication :)…

I have spent two hellish weeks of no sleep and constant, burning/stinging pain. Now I am going back to what I was meant to do: Find a way to heal myself. I want to share with you what I find, what works, and what doesn’t. As life goes, once I decided to embark on this journey of research, things come to me that I did not know about.

1. Mullein ROOT tincture = You will find the “leaf” and “flower” tinctures often, but not the ROOT. If you google “Mullein Root”, you will find wonderful explanations by Michael Moore and Jim MacDonald on the uses of Mullein Root for back pain and more…I suggest you find your own mullein, or grow some as I will, since the root tincture is pretty hard to find :). It is a wonderful healing plant.

2. Ashwandangha 🙂 = Never heard of it, and one day it just popped up on my screen. Well, this little herb has been used for hundreds of years by Indians and in Africa for many things, one of them being inflammation (how perfect for ME!!!). Also for insomnia, mental alertness, stress..and more. I think it popped up just for me..and it has joined my circle of friends.

I am also researching foods that cause nerve inflammation. The possibilities are endless.

I am also drinking infusions of the nerve building tonic of nettle, horsetail, and oatstraw.

I am going to be one ZEN woman very soon :).

To be continued…..