Making InSense of left over Herb Stems

Written Feb 21, 2012

It's a smoke theme with the Wild Things Round up for February and I was going to share this old school post exposing my giant pregnacious belly making smudge bundles, but decided to talk about something a little more recent instead. Hope you enjoy. I really hate wasting any part of the plant. It is such a gift to sit with a plant and cut from it's bounty that I do my best to make craft of every little bit. We are not composting right now so my need to do this is even more intense. We recently grabbed a bunch of some crazy wild rosemary from my parents property in northern Arizona. After a week or so of drying, I garbled off the leaves and powdered up the stems in my Vitamix to use in an incense.


Making natural no additive herbal incenses is truly a spiritual experience. Blending and mixing and burning to get the just right smell can be mood altering....or maybe it's all the smoke in the air. Either way, it sets the tone for a pretty fun day. I used to sell some in my etsy shoppe, but it's a pretty time consuming endeavor so now I just blend it for myself now and then.


One of the most important ingredients in a homemade incense is wood. A good wood will keep it burning longer and hotter without needing the chemical additives or toxic salt peter and charcoal found in commercial sticks. I find most of my burnable scented wood in the most industrious way: these garbled stems of my favorite dried aromatic herbs. Rosemary, thyme, lavender, pine, cypress, and creosote are good options around here, but any woody herb will do. It's really acting as a heat conductor more than anything, so even if it hasn't retained any smell, it will still be helpful.


You can make sticks and cones by adding a little applesauce or makko powder and water to your blended herbs, but I make incense a pretty casual way, powder up a few favorite herbs and stems and burn them on a non-toxic, salt peter free bamboo charcoal brick. It's super easy to do, all you really need is an extra coffee grinder and you can even do it with your kitchen spices. So save your garbled stems and make some delicious homemade chemical free incense. Just popping in to add a link to this little silly video I made for a friend on how to burn loose incense with these bricks.


Memories are Magical Incense Rosemary stems Star Anise Citrus peel Lavender

Hunting for Treasure Tea

The best way to learn about herbs, especially wild plants, is to get outside and look around as often as possible. I know it sounds simplistic, but as a friend says to me 'the secret to writing is writing.' I feel the same about herbcraft. Honing your gathering skills is an integral part of herbcrafting and it is only done by getting in the field or garden whenever you can. Since I almost always have the kids in tow, I try to make a game of it. So once a week or so, we go hunting for treasure tea. It's a great way to get everyone out of the house on that late Thursday afternoon that seems to scream for the weekend to come. We walk the same short path around our neighborhood and simply look around to see who shows up. In Phoenix, we used to do this in our garden as well.

Sometimes, it's not a whole lot, or maybe a whole lot of one thing, and not much of others. Sometimes, we find the bounty. But it teaches us, to watch the plants as they become ready, to see each of their stages as they bloom and grow. My girls have found the plants they love and are pretty good at identifying them and knowing if they're 'about to pop', as Sevi likes to say. So for them, it really does become a treasure hunt for their favorites. It's how we develop a relationship to the land and begin to see it as an ally. We can see ourselves reflected in the cycles of our green friends, and who we are drawn to for medicine. In the desert, this helped our vision become very keen and specific as treasures only bloomed for short periods of time. Here in the northwest, it helps our vision become focused, seeking out those elusive reds and whites among all the green.






Stopping to Survey...


Countertop Drying...



Because this is more of a learning activity, we usually just quick dry the plants on a paper towel for a day or so and steep right in the cup when we're ready to drink them. You could always just steep them fresh and get immediate satisfaction, though the flavors get stronger after a few days. If you are unsure of plants in your area, you can take a camera along for a eye-candy tea and start identifying when you get home. The more you see something, the easier it will be to learn. But there's almost always something you can pick up on the way, like plantain or pine tips, or dandelions. Happy Hunting! If you go on a treasure tea walk, we'd love to see pictures and hear your stories!

Love and Besos, Latisha

Egg Cartons :: Drying Herbs :: And Preschool Sorting Games

One of the hardest things I anticipated needing to adjust to as an HerbMama moving from the dry dry desert to the wet wet PNW was how exactly to dry my herbs. I asked the collective braintrust at facebook. I scoured google for ideas. I even made a pinboard. Then, as do most of the genius ideas in this house, the neatest option was discovered by my four year old: egg cartons. But this simple and effective drying tool has become so much more.


We get our eggs from a friend so we're always conserving cartons to return back to them and I had set out a bunch on the table earlier that morning. The girls and I had gone for one of our treasure tea walks around the neighborhood and Sevi dumped out her goods on the table to get ready for a little plant identification memory game. She takes great pride in knowing her herbs. I busied myself around the kitchen, as she got ready.


Eventually, I settled down for the show and came to the table. It was fantastic. She had taken an egg carton and placed all her plants in the little buckets. Sorting each different one into their own place. It was a perfect herbmama/unschooling moment. There is probably something brilliant I could say here about how children learn and process naturally and all that. But she's growing up so fast, and these pure moments of childlike expression have become really precious to me. So, I really just wanted to notice it as what it was for her: play. And I'll leave it at that.

eggcarton Collage

So now we have a few egg cartons, each painted and decorated with our names on them for our walkabouts with an extra one mama is just using for the generous chamomile. The herbs are drying up quite nicely in there and we can snap the lid shut so the plants don't fall out, like they often do in drying baskets. They also stack nicely so we save counter space.  After a few days to a week we put them up in little jars on their own. It's positively perfect. It works best of course for smaller flowers and bits, rather than leaves and large bunches and I'll share how we've been drying those in another post. But for our daily treasure hunts, it's just the right thing.


Love and Besos, Latisha

P.S. The wonderful folks at Poppy Swap were generous enough to interview me. Check it out to learn the secret to my herbal beginnings, if you haven't already.

Flowers and Fire


Flowers and Fire A simple Aries new moon ritual for kids.

Gather: a small heat proof bowl, a short votive candle, something to light it with.

Place the candle in the heat proof bowl and light it early in the day. As you light the candle, pass the bowl (or if they are too little, let them stand in front of the bowl) and offer gratitude for signs of spring, a trip outside for careful observation may be useful.

Throughout the day, have the children collect small flowers, leaves, and bits of nature. When the candle has melted down into the bowl and is soft and warm, allow the children to gently push their treasures into the wax making a wish on the new moon with each offering. Decorate with a splash of glitter if you'd like. :)

Please do test it yourself first to be sure you feel it is safe. It should be fine, I've done this with my children since they were younger than two with careful guidance. It is also a wonderful time to talk about respecting the magic and power of fire, a great tie-in to Aries.


Love and Besos, Latisha

Making Magic of the Moons


I've been thinking about this moon ritual all week. Well, all month really. But only just thinking. With no inspiration jumping out at me. Until last night. When I walked out to see her almost ripe behind the branches of our ancient oak tree. It was the first time in this cycle, I took the time to stop and notice her. Ritual doesn't have to be complicated or even full of witchy well-thought out meaning. For our family, is about slowing down to notice things. Notice moons new and ripe, notice flowers that some call weeds, notice silver minnows against the bright morning sky that think they are little birds. To pay attention to the wide and wonderous around us. There is beauty in the world, we just need to notice it.

I just might live in the enchanted forest.

This full moon is called the Pink Moon and the Egg Moon. I'll leave it to you to research the legend of the names. And I hope you do, it is a fascinating study of the first peoples and how on every part of the globe they *Noticed* the world, so much more than it seems we do at times now. And if you are a homeschooler, it is a perfect way to find a spontaneous lesson for the day. Here is a super fun and simple craft you can do tonight.


Pink Moon Dyed Eggs Make a tea with 2 tb hibsicus flowers in a quart size jar of water. Boil the water, cover, steep, then strain. Hard boil a few eggs, then peel. Place eggs in a glass bowl, cover with tea. Set eggs out under tonights Pink Full Egg Moon. In the morning, she will have imparted her magic into your breakfast.

Love and Besos, Latisha, Sevi, and Sage

P.S. Don't forget to enter to win the giveaway for the wonderful ebook Wildly Nourished. Winner announced tomorrow. 

It's not about the Medicine


Upon arriving at the grandparents the other day, I discovered Sevi had had a little accident. Nothing major, just a couple of really good skinned knees.

"Do you do the Neosporin and band-aids? I've got some right here." Came the kind offer.

"No that's okay, I make my own" I said, as I pull out the old mini jelly jar swiped from a hotel room, now full of earthly scented green goo.

The Neo and Band-Aids would have been just fine, so why did I insist on using my own? There's a whole host of reasons we use plant medicine. Knowing what's in it is important. Taking back our own power to heal ourselves, also a big one. Then there's the simple fun of making stuff, ya know feeding the DIY urge. But honestly, it's something even bigger than that. It's connection.

When we use the medicine, we experiencing healing in a scientific way, yes. We can say creosote bush has anti-bacterial properties, protects skin, and reduces inflammation. We could even, if we wanted to, locate and name the specific constituents (plant chemicals) that can be linked to how it does this precisely. We can even point to traditional cultures that have been using it as proof of its validity. But here's the thing, you don't need anyone else's authority to know it works. It's important to know what it is and that it's safe. But the best medicine from the plants comes from the connections we make in our own direct experience with working them. The pride that comes from discovering a plant, what it is, and that it has medicine for you. It's a chance to get off the screen and outside to meet old friends. I know it sounds a little hippie dippie, but Nature Deficit Disorder is real. And as Laura, author of Free Range Learning points out in this post, lack of time spent gazing at the big wide world outside may even be leading to measurable physical changes in how we are able to see the world.

So really, it's more than just nature pharmacy and herbcrafting fun. It's how alive we feel when we go on an expedition to find the best bush. How keen our senses becomes as we begin to notice the subtle details as the plant shifts over a season, knowing the perfect time for harvest. Then, when we pull out our little green bottles of goop, we remember that connection. We remember the bees that grazed our fingers as we stuffed the flowers into the jar. We remember the smell of the red dirt on that hot summer morning. We are reminded that this is a gift from the earth that offered us so many ways to expand our vision. And as we apply our warm hands over the wound, the energetic imprint of that positive memory imparts itself in the healing we make with the flesh. A connection between human and earth is restored and true planetary healing begins from the ground up.

Go outside today, meet an old friend, and make a connection.

Love and besos, Latisha


Thyme for Everything


Thyme for President. Seriously. I love this unassuming little healer so much. I use it in all ways possible in our home. Like many of the culinary herbs it has a list of properties (antiseptic, disinfectant, anti-inflammatory, carminative, diaphoretic, expectorant, nervine) that are useful in healing. I use it for cleaning, mouthwash, sore throats, in bath for flu ache, for upset tums, and of course food.

Apparently thymus means courage and was used by ancient Greeks in baths and temples as a source for courage, so it seems a fitting herb to follow yesterday's post.  We use it a lot in our food this time of year, and it's a featured herb in my Coyote Cider, but it's also really good medicine. Thyme is probably my most treasured herb....wait, I might say that about all the plants. Well, anyhoo this powerful little spice holds a world of goodness.

A few days after I got back from my trip, our house erupted in a series of unfortunate illnesses. Resting finally upon me, with a head/respiratory/throat something or other. Busy with doing the mama thing, I sort of forgot about dealing with it in the beginning. Working with a cold just as it's coming is the best way to ensure success with herbs. As much as I know these things, putting them into practice when you are living in utter chaos is sometimes so challenging for me.  I didn't really make time for even a cup of tea. Thus, this little bug has marched its way into my body, determined to succeed. I joked on FB, that the universe was just giving me an opportunity to test out my material one more time before HerbCamp started.


It took about three days of a terrible cough complete with a throbbing aching throat and a seriously debilitating earache, before I would take responsibility for myself. I remembered the thyme syrup I made a few weeks ago, that was shoved in the back of the fridge. I treated myself with afternoon of dosing up on this amazing healer, along with cups of warm honeyed canela tea, loads of fresh garlic, and some warm drops of mullein oil in my ears. When I woke up the next day, my throat pain was gone. Thank goodness the herbs don't get mad at you when you forget to use em. My cough is now just a tickle. I'll continue with the thyme syrup, and extra doses of garlic for the next few days until my body finds its way back to well, but I already feel like myself again.

You can grab the recipe for my thyme syrup, in my free eBook "8 Essentials to Building Your Herb'n Home."

Or join us at HerbCamp: Big Medicine where we'll be making syrups, tinctures, and salves. Here's a silly outtake video from Camp of me loving up the thyme in my garden, but not the neighbor's dog...

Sowing Circles - The Medicine of Community

seed love

The other night, I had a beautiful dream. Images of women bouncing through the forest to collect horsetail in spring and St Johns wort in summer. Watercolors melting of kiddos stuffing jars full of roses covering them with sticky honey, some of it making it to the jar. Tattered and dog-eared herb books and field guides strewn about, recipes inspired but long abandoned for the experiment that birthed itself while they walked the trail together. And my heart felt full and whole. And I knew. Right then and there, what I was meant to do. I've never been quite clear on this idea of finding my why. But in that moment, the importance of knowing why we are here to share our soulself became so clear. I finally understood.

Today is Lughnasadh. The first harvest of the season. Making herbcraft is a wonderful way to celebrate this time of abundance and community and joy. I love my lone walks to the forest collecting medicine, but it's when gathering with beloveds to harvest and make potions that I feel the most power in the working with plants. In the spirit of the season, Sowing Circles was born.   It's my contribution to the ever growing ripple of herbcrafting folk who tend and nurture the soil of the medicine. I'm talking about the herbmamas, the neighborhood potion maker who works at the grocery store, that auntie with the great tea. I'm talking about the folks who take kids on impromptu plant walks after they get home from work, the folks who have extra lemons and garlic in their fridge, and everyone who's ever wanted to be that person. Sowing Circles combines my desire to bring women together in community and share my love of plants. I hope to offer support in how to organize and facilitate your own medicine gatherings and grow your community of future herbmamas from the ground up. I will be sharing much more in the coming weeks, but you will find my first offering to the community below.

Planting the last two seeds from...

For today only August 1, if you register for one full set of HerbCamps (all three sessions, $130) you can invite your whole group to camp, as many as you like. I'm even leaving the group bundle discount in.

Here's what I'm asking: You create a Sowing Circle. Gather your tribe, your homeschool group, your families, your moms group...... And you commit to making the medicine. Maybe you won't even get to any of my class projects. Maybe you'll gather together and print off all those handmade herb goodies you've been bookmarking for years and finally get to them. Maybe you'll just find the plantain patch in your yard. But we'll do it together. And I'll be there to answer as many questions as I can. There will be no question too simple or too small. We'll play together.  We'll learn together. We'll make medicine together. And my guess is, very little of it will end up in a bottle.


What are we Sowing? Seeds of a Savory Life. Seeds of future curanderas and herbmamas in our children. Seeds of friendship. Seeds of earthways that will lead to earth healing. Seeds of Community, Connection, and Play. 

We start Monday, August 5th. Be there. Be Savory.

Love and Besos, Latisha

How to Play (official rules) All you need to do is have one person in your Sowing Circle enroll for the entire HerbCamp session (all three classes $130) and send me the email addresses of everyone in your group when they register. I'll leave it up to you guys to sort out how you divvy up the cost between you.

The Lughnasadh Sowing Circles special has ended. My many thanks to the amazing women who pulled together to make it happen for each other. 

Luna-Craft Ritual for Kiddos


Today is the Leo new moon! We are bursting with loads of new moon energy at Sunflower House lately. Here's a fun ritual to do with your wild bunch today that combines a bit of wishcraft and herbcraft molded into a gratitude practice. Yes friends, we might have just covered it all! ;)  We just introduced our 5 year old to vision boarding, well actually she saw ours and asked to make some of her own. I am absolutely thrilled to be sharing one of our favorite intention and goal setting tools with the children. They really love it, and it never even occurred to me to share with them!

In honor of the playful, joyful sun-child Leo, we'll put on a wish-mane and sing up what makes us happy to invite more of it in to our lives. Leo helps us remember the light that brings us unbridled joy.

Leo New Moon Luna-Craft


Ask the children gather up as many yellow flowers as they can find. Add some orange and whites, maybe some straw or dried grass to fill it out if you need/want to.

Cut the center out of a paper plate.

Have the children write or cut out words and images from a magazine and coloring books about the things that make them feel joy-FULL. Tape (we love double stick tape) or glue the words and images around the plate's remaining edge.

Then using whatever means necessary: Elmer's glue, hot glue gun, duct tape, double stick tape, poking holes and threading the stems through etc, add the flowers that were collected earlier on top of the words and images.

Poke a hole on both sides of the plate with a pencil and thread a string through so it will fit around the back of the child's head. You may need to double up your plate if the flowers are heavy. We intended to wear it like a lions mane but a fancy hat on top the head and a lei around your neck (this works great for the littles) proved to be much more practical and comfy.

Dance wildly to your favorite sunny songs wearing your flower mane. We'll be listening to Follow the Sun by Xavier Rudd. Make a joyful noise. Let your light radiate.


Love and Besos, Latisha

New Moon Ritual

Offering myself a moment to process and sensually experience fall by *noticing* the subtle change, is important to a healthy seasonal shift for me.


Virgo New Moon Ritual in Harvest Season

Sage Mother Spiritual Bath RitualFirst prepare your bath salt. Give yourself the gift of a 5 minutes in the shower. Before you turn the water on, pour the bath tea over your head and body. In spiritual bathing, like when we make flower essence, we keep the energy our bodies carry out of the healing waters and instead let them wash over us. You may then choose to take a bath or a shower or simply let the healing waters wash over you.

Next prepare your tea. As you sip your tea, you may choose to journal, sit quietly on a couch watching nature, help your children to bed or any other activity, intentional or otherwise. Let the tea serve as an extension of your release as a sensual reminder of your time in the shower. 

Honey Sage Blessed Mother Bath In a small bowl combine 1 cup of dead sea salt. Sea salt or epsom salt will work as well. Sprinkle some dried roses into the salt. As you sprinkle in the roses, think of the Blessed Mother and the unending, unconditional love she has for you. Next sprinkle in some dried sage. As you sprinkle the sage think of the constant sun, who rises each day to offer you warmth and nourishment. You may add essential oils instead or in addition to the herbs. A few drops will do. Crush the salt and herbs together to release the scent and crush your worry, and exhaustion, and business and any other thing you may be carrying and allow the rose and sage to infuse into those things that do not serve with their abundant love and light. With gratitude to the bees as symbols of community and connection we hold with all things, add 1-2 TB of honey and stir the mixture together. Scoop bath salt into a cloth bag or sock. (You can place mixture directly into the pot, but you will have to clean the herbs out afterward). Place it in a pot of water and bring to a boil. Let the herbs infuse for 10-15 minutes, longer if you have time.

Cleansing Sage Tea Cover a a few sage leaves with some boiled water. More if using fresh, less if using dried. Let your intuition guide. Use any variety of sage you like. Though many burn it in a smudge, I actually enjoy white sage as a tea. Pineapple or simple garden sage is also lovely. Allow it to steep for 5 minutes. Strain add a teaspoon (more if you need it) of honey and 1/4 to 1/2 the juice of one lemon.

It is my hope that this offering will continue to build your sensory vocabulary so that when you enjoy your cup of sage tea, you can return to this feeling of love, support and surrender, even if you don’t have time for the bath.

Besos and Blessings, Latisha

Moon Sowing


Forget about Super, for she may be close, but is never far away. Forget about Venus and her fancy retro dress. Forget about horns on goats filled with fruit.

Forget about that damn mountain And the patience and work it takes to reach the top. In fact, forget about the top.

If you are wanting to participate in this super charged magic, but feel like at this point you can't muster up "the right stuff" to make it meaningful: Just see her and nod. The true magic of ritual is in the art of noticing as a practice.  This earth medicine stuff, it's a lifestyle. Just, start with noticing.

Click for the printable Super Moon Sowing PDF.

Wishing you a year filled with light, love and herbaceous adventuring,

Love and Besos, Latisha

If you enjoyed this simple ritual, you will love the Sowing Circles Monthly Activity Guide

Raw Almond Basil Cookies

almond basil

So it was one of those robot-like mom moments where you scan the kitchen and totally MacGyver up some good shit to save the world and stuff. All at once, we were out of almond milk, the mangos were all wrinkly and about to go off, and breakfast needed to be made.


What happened next took us into the better part of the day and it was the best kind of blessing after a very long week fully of long tired nights. The almonds were pureed and strained and bottled into milk for the next few days. Then I used the blender that held the last bits of the almond puree as the base for our morning smoothie which included kale and mangos a banana and 2 dates. The strained almond pulp sat on the counter for a little while as we changed a diaper, checked an email, and wiped a few noses. It was then decided that cookies would be the best use for the almond mush so we made two batches, I thought rosemary would be fun, and Sevi of course chose basil. The basil ones were the winners. The other day, I had thought it would be fun to dry the mango seeds and see if I could make something with them. In my googling I had found that you could grow indoor houseplants with the mango pits, so we planted some.


So in spite of the exhaustion, it was a blessed beautiful morning. Where creativity and a wrinkly old mango sort of set the tone. It doesn't always happen this way. But, for me, this day was like a little jewel of a prize after tending to a houseful of sickies.

Okay recipe time. As always, proceed with caution in regards to my measurements and massive amounts of play.


Raw-ish Almond Basil Cookies

Soak 1 lb raw almonds overnight. Drain. Blend in power blender with 4 c water. 

Strain through paint bag. Add a healthy spill of homemade vanilla extract (1 tb?) to milk. Store in fridge.

For cookies: mix two pancake pours (maybe 2 tb?) of maple syrup, a fist full of fresh basil chopped small, a pinch of salt, a spill of vanilla (couple of tsp) with your hands into the remaining meal -- it should be dry but not totally unmoist. Grab in small bits and shape into balls then flatten. Dehydrate for freaking ever until they are crispy. Like little nilla wafers. I also made some with rosemary instead of basil. Both delish, but the basil are the winners. The smaller and flatter the quicker they will be done. we made some teeny ones that were done in a few hours, other thicker, bigger ones took all night.


Love and Besos, Latisha

Evergreen Salted...everything

evergreen salt

evergreen salt

One of the things I promised myself I'd do when I decided to come back to blogging was to share more off the cuff herbcraft. Part of what got me tripped up before was feeling like I had to have these perfect posts, with research about constituents and healing properties and identification tips. But, it felt like writing a paper for college each time. It so wasn't me and the time I spent trying to do it that way took up all my free time for just writing and sharing about the playful side of things. And so, I got bored with it. The idea that I should write that way started to make me a little afraid of sharing anything at all. But then, I realized there are so many folks out there who do those kind of posts really well. Leave it to them. My voice, my version of the craft is what I have to share. You have to take responsibility for doing further research, looking at your individual health, and no amount of ID tips I can give you online will help fully in wildcrafting unless you just get out there with other folks and your books and do the work.

herbal books

herbal books

So what is it exactly, that I do like? I love to inspire a playful relationship with the plants. I've always referred to Herbmother as a gateway drug. I gave up long ago trying to be a teacher of herbalists. But if you're looking for a safe place to dip your toes and lead you down the green-brick road, this is a good start.

Which brings me to today's post. This winter I've chosen to get involved with the trees. Since returning to the pacific northwest, they have been calling me to go deeper. There are so many of them, however, I got overwhelmed in the ID game and tabled it. This year, with a self-designed slower life, I have collected my resources and I have the time to go sit with my sister trees and listen. I've traded my water devotional for tree devotional, just for the season.

The truth is, I still have trouble identifying the trees very specifically, but I've picked up a few things that give me the comfort to work with them in spite of not knowing exactly what species it is. For our final wildcrafting playbook, my Sowing Circles Group is working with evergreens in December. This salt is from the playbook and one of my favorite herbcrafts to make and gift.

spruce tips

spruce tips

Evergreen trees are beautiful wintertime allies. They are immune enhancing and supporting not to mention the comfort they provide with their bright leaves and wonderful smell. Switching up your regular salt for this one will give you little hits of the goodness all season long, which we know is really how to keep ourselves well anyway. I enjoy it on just about everything, though it loves to be rubbed into meat, especially red meat. Sprinkled on top of a hard cooked egg is also a favorite snack. I think this year, I'll try it in my mexican chocolate bark too.

In general you can eat most conifers. Yew is one however, that is toxic and fatal and should be avoided.

Evergreen Salt Collect a handful of evergreen needles. Fir, pine, larch, and spruce all work well. Chop them very fine. Mix in a ratio of 1:1 with a good sea salt. My favorite for this is sel gris. Usually when I make herbal salts I use a ration of 2 herbs to 1 salt. You can try this as well, though I like the extra salt with the evergreen flavor.

At this point your salt is ready to enjoy. However, if you let it sit a few weeks, the flavor only gets better. You can also toast the mixture in a small cast iron pan for a few minutes, stirring constantly to bring out a caramel taste.

evergreen salt

evergreen salt

I'd love to know if you try it out. Love and Besos, Latisha

Here are a few online resources to scope out as well as the books in the picture above. If you've written a blog on conifer play, please share it below. American Conifer Society Edible Conifers Board on Pinterest Conifer Love Blog

Cottonwood Crowns

We are still living fully in cottonwood city around here. After I made my oil, I didn't really feel like making anything other than wishes with the stems, but I couldn't just throw them out. So, they sat on my workshop table for a few weeks until I eventually decided to toss them onto the top of the garden beds to be mulched in eventually. Then one day as I was scrolling through instagram I saw these from Papier-Mache Magazine. I finally knew exactly what we had to do with our left over twigs. I love  Kirsten Rickert. Her dreamscapes and ethereal photos inspire me to no end. After seeing her tutorial, I was wishing I hadn't thrown my twigs away. Thankfully, Drew hadn't done anything with them yet but, they were covered in a foot of snow. So I went on a wee needle in a haystack hunt, snow shovel in hand, to find them. Much to my delight, the twigs were still very intact. Just in case, I set them out in front of the fire to dry a few hours inside and got down to making our crowns.

The girls selected their fabric from some scraps I had when I cut up some top sheets to make curtains. Does anybody use top sheets? I never have. Anyway, I don't do a lot of sewing on purpose, so I was surprised to find the iron still working, hidden in the back of a closet.

Today was a perfect day for crafting them. It took me a while to get the hang of the stitching, keeping the twigs straight and not fumbling around in my hands, but they turned out great. I ended up putting a layer of felt on the inside as they knobby cottonwood twigs were kind of hard on the forehead without. I also plan on sewing in some elastic on the back rather than tying them as she suggests in the post. It was so wonderful to use my hands and get crafty in this way. I really have missed just playing and making for no reason at all. I sat next to my love while he watched a show and just sewed by the fire. It was such good medicine. And speaks to the larger movement my heart and body is aching to make these days.

What do you think? Will you make some twiggy crowns? Cottonwood or otherwise? I'm thinking apple fairy and cherry goddess crowns next...

Love and Besos, Latisha

How the Cottonwood Got its Star


There is a such a joy that comes with the deep study of one plant at a time. When I first started learning about herbs, I had to try everything. I was so hungry for the medicine I would buy pounds and pounds of dried plants to make with. Things for ailments I never really had and much went unused. I think this is pretty typical when I begin a new passion. I tend to gobble everything up all at once. But, now that I have a good foundation of the medicines that work for my family, I can study the plants from a different place with a slower more intentional pace. I'm learning things I never expected to learn. I feel closer and more in tune with the medicine. I'm not beating myself up over my first few years of voraciousness, just recognizing the path and appreciating where I've come.

I've always chosen one plant ally to really go deep with for each year, but with the creation of the monthly Plant Playbooks, I'm giving myself permission to dabble a bit beneath the surface for an entire month with a different plant when it is in its medicine prime. In fact, though I am sharing many more in depth offerings at HerbMother this year, this simple booklet has become my most favorite thing to make and share.

For the month of February we are working with the cottonwood tree and as usual, she has delivered deep medicine. I've created a pinterest board to collect the many inspiring things I'm learning about this majestic tree. One beautiful piece I came across that embodies the Art of Noticing, is the story of the Cottonwood and the Star. There are many versions of this story, including a beautiful CD with a live telling you can hear. I'd like to share my quick retelling and offer up a challenge below.

All things in life come from earth. When the stars were born, they ran around beneath the earth looking for a root to be born from. As they travelled, they heard laughter and joyful voices near the river. They followed the happy noise to a stand of cottonwood trees. Delighted by what they heard, they went into the roots, up the tree and hid out in the knotty twigs.

One evening, the spirit of the night noticed there were less and less stars in the sky. The spirit of the night called upon the spirit of the wind to help bring back the stars. The spirit of the wind knew the stars were hiding in the twigs of the cottonwood tree and so it created a mighty wind that would snap the branches from the trees. As the branches broke and fell to the ground, the stars shot out of the tree into the sky. To this day, if you break the twig of a cottonwood at just the right place, you will find a shadow where a star once hid.


Here is my challenge. I will gift a free copy of the Cottonwood Playbook to everyone who submits their own unique story of how the cottonwood got its star. When we create stories with the plants in nature, we connect to them in a deeper relationship and we can see them as more than just trees and flowers to pass by. With your permission, the stories will be collected and featured on the herbmother blog during the month of February.

Send your stories to herbmother (at) hotmail (dot) com with the subject line: Cottonwood Star

I can't wait to hear your versions of how the cottonwood got its star. Even if you don't participate in the challenge, I do hope you are able to get out in nature and greet this wonderful ally in some way.

Love and Besos, Latisha

HerbMother's Cupboard - Tea


HerbMother's Cupboard

HerbMother's Cupboard series I'm starting with the basic herbcrafts from the Folk Foundations Series of HerbCamp. I'll be sharing a few of my favorite recipes and curating some of my old posts starting with the most used medicine in my home: Tea.

Tea is the easiest and safest way to bring a bit of herb'n lifestyle into the casa. More than just medicine, tea is sensory medicine. The flavors, smells, colors and tastes in a brew provide healing long before the contents of the cup are measured. Jars of herbs lined up on your kitchen counter whisper home to anybody who sees them and slowing down to make your tea is the best kind of walking meditation I know. I've talked a lot about tea over the years, so much so that I used to even have a meme celebrating tea and I share my #mondaymugshot on instragam each week. If you're an instagrammer, tag me @herbmother, I'd love to see yours. Below are just a few of my favorite posts as well as a free eBook full of tea recipes. Give yourself the gift of a cool thrifted tea-pot with mismatched cups, invite some friends over to enjoy the sensory healing experience of herbal tea.

Download a free copy of HerbMother's Cupboard - Tea, 14 pages of tea recipes and the stories that inspired them.

Love and tea, Latisha

The Medicine of Making - The Last Wild Mint


The Christmas Charlie Brown movie has been on repeat in this house ever since we put up the tree. Who's your favorite character? I'm sure there's an app or a personality test out there that you can try to see who you'd be. No matter how many times we've watched it, to be honest, for whatever reason, I'm really struggling to feel the *magic* of the season. This is totally strange for me considering I'm usually one of the folks who starts listening to Holiday music at the beginning of November.

But, I just strained and heated some of the spearmint sugar we made as a family a couple of weeks ago. And as I stirred a bit into my dark rich warmed cacao, I think I may have heard the soft sound of a tiny jingle bell in the distance. Sipping my fragrant drink, I am called back to that evening of spontaneous fun. It was one of the last few sunny days just before fall turned to winter and Drew and I were busy putting the garden to bed. I had intended to harvest some rosemary, but the mint plant was screaming at me from the other end of the yard. As I walked over to her, I noticed her wiry, wild stands, reaching in every direction. Chaotic and tangled, her arms bending out in receiving pose as if asking for a blessing, she mirrored my own feelings of the last few weeks. I listened and removed as much of the noise as she would allow. Trimming her back to a smaller version of herself, above the surface, I could almost feel the energy of her larger self expand beneath the earth.


At first I thought to just compost her stalks, as fall isn't the best time for harvesting mint. But the voice of an old teacher who always said the best time to harvest a plant is when you are standing in front of it, lingered in my head. And sure enough, as I grabbed the large bundle in my arms, my lungs filled with her healing aroma and I too felt expanded beneath the surface. She came inside with me and I laid her on a table, bringing with me the remaining signs of fall - spiders, and slugs, old seeds, dried out flowers and dead leaves would make their way into a mandala of acknowledgment on the floor surrounding table. Tending to the business of the day, I was sure she would end up simply bundled as decoration and medicine of a knowing kind to be seen and admired as earthen art over the winter....


But in that odd hour between coming inside and dinner, she called me again to her. My children and my love  this time close by, we all gathered as a family to make various medicines together floating about the kitchen in a dance we'd performed many times before. I began separating the stalks into two piles. Deliberately choosing the most green and fragrant of stalks for medicine of the crafty making kind and saving the chartreuse curly heavily flowered stalks for medicine of the gazing and spirit kind. Stripping the leaves from each stalk one by one, being sure not to take the brown or critter-covered ones, I made a pile for each of my girls. I proceeded with my meditative garble as they crafted medicines with their dad. In the end we turned this:


into this:


I've been pouring over old pictures and videos of my wee ones the last few days. Though I know we make an intentional practice of living an herb'n lifestyle, it never feels forced or out of the ordinary. We started with the most simple of things and graduated to a new craft when it felt right. Now almost seven years of cultivating this life, it has just become part of our days, as normal as brushing teeth and doing laundry. Sifting through these old memories, my heart softens into joy and my soul whispers something like "My work here is done." For Drew and I, it was something new to be learned and remembered, for the girls it will be second nature.


I think, when I really sit down and think about it, that's what this work is all about for me. Though I may struggle with embracing the spirit of the Holidays, working with the plants, I never fail to embrace the spirit of the season. I'm not a radical, really. And I'm not a hardcore activist. My way is a bit more subtle. Quarter turns of the dial, infiltrating from within. Like the Last Wild Witch knows, the tiny aromatic tendrils of the plants do the work. I just offer up a bowl and say, "Have some soup."

Recipe for Fresh Mint (or any other herb) Sugar

Place several layers of herb, sugar, herb, sugar, etc... into a heat proof mason jar. Let sit in a warm place, sunny window or above fire place for two weeks. If sugar is still hard, boil a pot of water, remove from heat. Place glass with lid slightly ajar into hot water and carefully warm it until sugar is dissolved. Strain and enjoy in a cup of rich dark cacao.

Love and Besos, Latisha

Fall Spice Blend


Fall Spice Blend cinnamon orange peel ginger nutmeg rose hips vanilla bean cardamom cloves (go light on the cloves, they can be strong)

I wanted it to be about 2/3 cinnamon and orange peel and the remaining 1/3 a combo of all the rest of the other spices. I started out measuring, but the jar was a little short of full, so I just ended up throwing everything we ground up in. I think next time I'll do a little less cloves and cardamom, but it turned out really delicious in the pie. I sprinkled some in my coffee and quinoa hot cereal the next day and loved it.

Go forth and grind spice!

Love and Besos, Latisha

Coyote Cider

fire cider
fire cider

When the weather starts to get a bit chilly, the warming herbs beg to be made into potions. I can't seem to get enough cinnamon and these spicy friends below are now making their way to the front of the spice rack as well. Fire cider and Four Thieves Vinegars are delicious, easy, potions packed with a punch of healing power. Used regularly, they help keep our immune systems strong and help to make us a less than ideal host for those buggies that start looking for warm places to live in the winter months.

Here is a recipe to the closest proportions I can guess. As always, measuring is not my forte.

Coyote Cider 4 TB grated Horseradish 1 small onion 8 cloves garlic 2-3 thai chilies 1/2 c ginger 4 sprigs rosemary 4 sprigs thyme 2 sprigs oregano

Combine all in a quart size jar, cover with apple cider vinegar. Cover with plastic lid. Let sit for at least two weeks. Strain and use. In warm water with a little honey, this Coyote Tea is sure to clear out whatever's buggin' ya.

fire cider2
fire cider2

Love and Besos, Latisha

Roses and Remembering

I just put up what looks to be the last of the amazing roses from around our property. We've got vinegars, elixirs, and witch hazel toners on the medicine dock just waiting for the perfect time to be used. Since I'm deep in the editing for the opening of my virtual HerbCamps, I thought I'd share one of my most favorite rosey remedies and give you an idea of the kind of thing you'll see if you join us at camp.


A Rosy Remembered Remedy

(Originally posted March 2012)

When Leslie of Comfrey Cottages shared she was doing a Remembered Remedy blog party, I knew immediately what I would be sharing. A Rosy Facial Steam.


Just after my parents split up, when we moved back to my mom's family home, I spent a lot of time with my aunts as she was a newly working single mom. My mom had three sisters and 4 married brothers so it was easy to do. But my Aunt Teresa and I had a special bond the summer I turned 13. She had three boys and I think she got a kick out of spending time doing girly things with me. I never dressed up more, played with my hair more, or was just plain girlish with anyone else before or since....until now.


I resisted being girly with my little ones for so long. Insisting on pants only and nothing pink, only one doll in the house, absolutely no princess movies. You get the idea. I am not sure what it was, some misinformed idea about what it really means to be feminist. Fear of them not being taken seriously or having the same opportunity as boys. I guess I was a little afraid. But as my girls have gotten older, I can't stand in the way of their own expression. Sevilla loves to wear dresses, her favorite color is certainly pink, and goodness if every single thing she owns must have jewels of some sort on it. Considering how much I kept it out of the house for so long, it made me realize how dogmatic I was being about it all. So I took the lid off. Supported her choices and reflected on what it really means to be a strong woman.


Like the color of my lipstick is a sign of my declining mind. ~Ani DiFranco

Being a strong woman isn't about wearing pants and shoulder pads to compete with the boys, though there is nothing wrong with this expression. My husband says the biggest trick every played on the feminist is that to be liberated you have to become more like a man. It doesn't have anything to do with loss of curves and gentle touch, emotional expression and lightness of being. The world needs all these things more than ever. Being a strong woman is to be who you are however you are. Celebrating our feminine gestures should be a part of how we are strong. Teaching our girls to love our innate gifts of gathering, loving, balancing, and costuming without shame is the road we are choosing to take. I do believe men and women are different in the way we see and build the world. Celebrating woman as she is becomes the true test of feminism.


So I can see my girls in all their beauty standing tall in their pink ruffled dress removing their sparkly jeweled sandals just before they climb their beloved paloverde tree. It is with great pleasure I am able to share this remedy with them gifted to me by my beautiful aunt with great pride for our family's feminine gesture and heritage.

Rose Facial Steam Fill a large bowl with fresh roses Add 1/4 c vinegar Cover with steaming hot water

Place a towel over your head and make a tent with the bowl. Breathe in deeply and repeat aloud: "I am a beautiful woman" until the steam cools.

Love and besos, latisha