Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Simple Herbal Shampoo

The beginnings of a simple herbal shampoo- dried soapwort, rosemary and sage.  

These are added to a pan of water and simmered for 15-20 minutes.  
Let cool, strain out the herbs, and you have a very simple herbal shampoo.  
No suds, just gentle herbal cleansing.  
I follow this with an apple cider vinegar rinse.
I sometimes add a few drops of lavender essential oil to the shampoo and the ACV rinse.  
Clean, shiny hair without using harsh chemicals.  

Do you use herbs to care for your hair?


Catherine Ann

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

9 Familiar Herbs for Beginners Free Download
Hello Friends,

Just a short note to let you know that the Herbal Academy of New England is offering this free e-book on their website:  9 Familiar Herbs for Beginners

If you are new to herbs, or even not so new, and would like more information on familiar herbs such as lavender, thyme, ginger and such; you can't beat a beautifully designed e-book for FREE!
I downloaded it myself and found some new recipes to add to the Still Room book, Herban Root Coffee is one of those.  I could do with less caffeine and more herbal goodness these days. 
I'm not sure how long this offer will be available, so grab this free herb book while you can!  Just click on the link above or the graphic to go to their website. 



Catherine Ann

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mother Culture ~ 6 Favorite Herb Books for Moms

OK, so I am a book lover as well as an herb lover, which means books about herbs are at the top of my favorites list.  When I first became interested in learning about herbs, the internet was not an option (yes, I'm that old!).  You had to search out those often 'way out of the way' herb shops to find herbs and information about them.  I soon had a collection of herb books on the shelves and I still turn to some of those today.  With the access to the internet, information is easier to acquire these days, but I will always love my herb books. 

Below are the favorites for mothers, both old and new, from my still room bookshelves:

Healing Herbs: A Beginner's Guide to Identifying, Foraging, and Using Medicinal Plants / More than 100 Remedies from 20 of the Most Healing Plants by Tina Sams
 is brand new and is already one of my favorite herbals.  I love Tina's writing style and this book has practical as well as unusual ways to use 20 herbs.  Not just for the beginner, even after over 20 years of using herbs, I've found lots of new to me information and recipes in this book!

Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family
 Rosemary Gladstar is a well-known herbalist and writer.  Another of her books, which is listed below, was one of my first acquisitions as a budding herbalist, and is well-worn and well- used.  This newer volume is quickly gaining the same status.  Filled with recipes and valuable herbal information, this is a must for this mother's bookshelf.  

Herbal Healing for Women by Rosemary Gladstar is my favorite herb book for women thus far.  After many years of learning, I still return to this book for dealing with and preventing women's health concerns.  A timeless classic in my opinion, one I return to again and again.

Every Woman's Herbal by Dr. John R. Christopher is another timeless classic in my book, filled with wisdom and herbal help for women of all ages.  Dr. Christopher was the founder of the oldest herbal school in America- The School of Natural Healing where is work lives on today.

Mommy Diagnostics by Shonda Parker is great for when you have children in the home.  Though I don't always follow her suggested treatment, I have found this book very helpful when I need a 'diagnosis' based on symptoms.

Common Herbs for Natural Health by Juliette de Bairacli Levy is another of those timeless books for me.  I enjoy her no nonsense style and simple formulas for health issues.

These 6 books are my favorites for mothers (and women in general).  I will share other herb books with you in another post- favorites for herb gardening, crafting, cooking ... so many options!

Do you have a favorite herbal for mothers?  
Which books do you turn to time and time again?


Catherine Ann

* note Amazon affiliate links in post

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Helpers ~ 4 Herbs to Keep in the Pantry and Purse

I've deemed the month of May as Mother Culture month here at Still Room Herbs in honor of Mothers and Mother's Day.
I will be sharing some of my favorite herbs for mothers, the best herb books for mothers on my bookshelves, and some herbs that have mother in their name.  I'm also cooking up a little giveaway, so stop by often or sign up for updates delivered via email so you won't miss out!

Today I am sharing 4 herbs that mothers will want to keep on hand.  I suggest keeping a supply of these in both the still room pantry, and in your purse!

  • Lavender Essential Oil- Nicknamed the 'first-aid kit in a bottle', lavender essential oil is my most used herbal remedy.  It not only soothes frazzled nerves, but I've cured a headache by rubbing a few drops on the nape of my neck and temples, and it takes away the itch or ouch from an insect bite or scratch like nothing else I've used.  A few drops in a diffuser or in a simple room spray will freshen the air, and lavender linen spray or sachets make laundry less drudgery and more delight in my book.
  •  Chamomile Tea- Chamomile is soothing, gentle, and good for what ails you.  Peter Rabbit's mother knew this, and we also find that chamomile is indeed good for settling a tummy that has perhaps had a few too many treats, whether vegetables as in Peter's case, or something else that doesn't quite agree with us.   Chamomile tea bags also soothe tired, puffy eyes when soaked in warm water and applied to closed eyelids.  I've had good results with using this method for mild conjunctivitis, also.  It is also tasty and soothing to the nerves, a perfect bedtime tea.  
  • Ginger- Ginger is also useful for settling upset stomachs, and used often for motion sickness.  I keep candied ginger in the pantry and purse for both of these issues.  It is also helpful when suffering from a cold or sore throat.  Ginger, Honey & Lemon tea is an old-fashioned remedy that gives great results.  Another idea is to infuse a jar of honey with lemon and ginger slices so it is ready to go when you need it- just add a spoonful of the infused honey to hot water or tea and you have a tasty, healthful brew in minutes.
  •  Nettle- For allergy sufferers, nettle is a God-send.  I make my own Nettle Allergy Tonic using nettles, local honey, and apple cider vinegar.  This alleviates the sneezing, itchy eyes, and runny nose of seasonal allergies for me.  For a more portable solution, I make up press-n-brew  tea bags filled with Mountain Rose Herbs Seasons of Discontent Tea.  Nettle is a great tonic herb filled with vitamins and minerals which nourish the body and are good for hair, skin, and nails.  A favorite of many herbalists, nettle is a staple in my still room.  
All of the above herbs can be purchased here:
Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c
(affiliate link in banner)

 I will stop with these 4 herbs for today.
There are others that I consider essentials in the still room that I will share with you another time.

What herbs do you consider essential in your still room pantry (or your purse)?


Catherine Ann

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Happy Herbalist Day!

As I shared earlier this week, April 17th is Thank an Herbalist Day, sponsored by the Herbal Academy of New England.  They have some lovely printable cards and several ideas for herbal gifts to share with a friend or mentor as a way to say Thank You for sharing the fascinating world of herbs with others.  Simply click on the graphic above to go to the page where these are found.

My own venture into a love of all things herbal began with a few tiny potted herbs found at the grocery store.  You can read more about that on the page titled Meet Catherine, the Herb Lover in the tabs at the top of the page.  Once I fell in love with herbs and began seeking information (a long time ago before the ease of Google searches) I searched out every herb shop and magazine I could locate within a day's drive.  My first mentors were found in books as I did not find any herbal mentors close by.   Rosemary Gladstar, Phyllis Shaudys and Bertha Reppert were the authors of the first herb books I purchased.  I still pull those volumes off the shelf frequently to find a recipe or seek out a remedy, and sometimes just to find inspiration for a gift idea or herbal craft.

As I began to desire to plant herb gardens, I discovered my favorites among this genre- Southern Herb Growing and Lasagna Gardening with Herbs are the two I turn to most often.  Herb gardening in Texas is not for the faint of heart!

Fast forward several years-  I am blessed to write often for The Essential Herbal MagazineI find the variety of articles and authors in it and the conversations in the corresponding Yahoo Group a great source of encouragement and information on a wide variety of herbal topics. The editor, Tina Sams, has just published a book called Healing Herbs which I am certain will also become a favorite of mine.  I love the conversational style of Tina's writing and the recipes in the book make me want to get busy creating some new herbal craft.

If you are interested in learning more about herbs, don't miss the 15% off sale at HANE

Since this is a topic I could go on and on about, I'd best stop here; but I would love to hear about your mentors on your own journey with herbs.  

Happy Herbalist Day!


Catherine Ann  

* affiliate links in post

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Thank an Herbalist Sale

Friday, April 17th is Thank an Herbalist Day.  I'll be back to share about the herbalists who helped me find my way into the herbal way of life on Friday, but I wanted to share this great sale with you today.  If you are interested in learning about herbs, the Herbal Academy of New England has 2 programs of study and an option to learn as you go in the Herbarium (which I am a member of and find delightful) all of these are discounted 15% until April 19th.  So, if you've been considering a course in herbalism or want a place to go to find herbal information, I encourage you to visit HANE today and see their offerings.   Just click the graphic above to go to the site.  

I hope some of you will join in the fun on Friday and write about the herbalists who have impacted your life and work with herbs.  

Herbal Blessings,

Catherine Ann

*affiliate links in post

Saturday, April 11, 2015

5 Simple Uses for Yarrow

Yarrow is blooming in the herb garden these days.
One of the wild herbs, yarrow sows itself where it will, and because I find it both beautiful and useful, I am always glad when it plants itself nearby.

Yarrow has much lore associated with it, and if that interests you, and this article have some very interesting notes on this herb.

Around here yarrow is used for more simple things-
  • It is the best styptic I've found.  A crushed yarrow leaf will stop a nosebleed or a bleeding cut in short order.  
  • Yarrow is used for healing wounds and can be made into a poultice or salve for treating cuts and scrapes. 
  • Yarrow is suggested for treating colds and flu.  I add it to cold remedy brews along with peppermint, ginger, and elderberry honey.  
  • Yarrow is also said to relieve the pain of a toothache, and I have on occasion stuck a yarrow leaf on the tooth/gum that is causing me issue.
  • The flowers and ferny foliage make lovely additions to floral arrangements.

Does yarrow grow in your herb garden or lawn?
What is your favorite way to use yarrow? 

Joining my farmgirl sisters in this week's Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop!

Herbal Blessings,

Catherine Ann

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Happy Spring Happenings ...


 Borage and Dill


Spring has sprung! The herbs are putting on new growth and the early bloomers are doing just that.  I snapped a few photos yesterday of the above plants, and along with these the citrus trees have tiny buds, the iris are blooming, and wildflowers are blooming in the field across the road.  
Unfortunately for the allergy prone- the oak trees are also in bloom and showering yellow pollen on every surface.  Time to brew lots of nettle tea sweetened with local honey.  

What signs of spring are you seeing these days?

Happy Easter!

Catherine Ann

Monday, March 16, 2015

Spring is in the Air

So glad spring is here- geese are heading North, dandelions are blossoming in the yard, and other wild herbs are beginning to green up- plantain, chickweed, and cleavers are just waiting for me to pick them.  And if I get an early start before the mower gets to them in the morning, I will harvest some of these for either blending into a green smoothie, adding to the salad bowl, or drying for later use. 
Honestly, with chickweed and dandelion, I often just pick a few leaves and have an herbal snack while I'm wandering about the yard checking for what new things are springing up!

What signs of spring are you seeing around you?


Catherine Ann

Thursday, March 5, 2015

6 Herbs that are Simple to Grow from Seed

Starting from Seed

seed starting
It's that time of year, just before spring when the gardening bug bites worst.  Too cold most days to go out and do any real gardening, but warm enough on other days to make me want to grow something. 
Planting a few herb seeds is a perfect way to feed the need to garden when weather doesn't cooperate. 

The following 6 herbs are simple to grow from seed.  And with the exception of calendula and chives, the rest will quite possibly take it upon themselves to reseed all over your garden and you may never need to replant them again!

chive blossom
Herbs to start indoors in pots:
  • Basil- perhaps the easiest of all herbs to grow.  This warm weather annual can be started indoors in pots, or seeded directly in the garden once the threat of cold weather is gone.  Varieties abound, and my current favorites are: Genovese basil, Lemon Basil, and Tulsi or Holy Basil.
  • Calendula- Otherwise known as Pot Marigold.  This easy to grow herb is grown for its leaves as a spring tonic or 'pot herb', and its sunny yellow or orange flowers for use in skin care.  The dried  petals are also sometimes used as a substitute for the expensive herb, saffron.  They don't give the same flavor, but do give rice a pretty yellow hue.
  • Chives- Grown for their mild onion flavor as well as pretty purple flowers, chives are an herb garden essential.  Chives are great snipped into soups or baked potato, and the edible flower florets are beautiful and tasty scattered over a salad.  The flowers are also often used to flavor vinegar, giving it a mild flavor and a delicate lavender hue.  Seed should be sown indoors 6 weeks before your last frost date.  Once you have established plants, those can be divided every 2 to 3 years rather than sowing seed. 

Herbs to sow in the garden:

  • Borage- With its beautiful, sky blue flowers, Borage is a garden favorite.  The flowers make pretty garnishes to spring dishes or desserts.  They can be candied by brushing them with egg white (use dried meringue powder if you aren't sure about raw egg whites), thensprinkling them with sugar and allowing to dry.  These make lovely decorations for cakes and cupcakes. 
  • Cilantro- An herb that is usually either loved or hated, the strong flavor of cilantro is used for salsas and Mexican style soups at our house.  A cool weather herb, cilantro will quickly go to seed once hot weather comes along, and will likely reseed so that you have a fresh supply of cilantro in the fall or next spring.
  • Dill- Another abundant re-seeder, dill is finicky about being transplanted due to its long taproot, so scatter seed where you want it to grow.  Dill will probably plant itself all over the garden once it goes to seed, and you will have plenty of dill for pickles, potato salad, vinegars, and enough to share with the caterpillars of the  Black Swallowtail butterfly in coming years.

These six herbs are easy to grow and can be used in so many different ways, you can have a nice herb garden starting with just a half dozen seed packets.

Are you dealing with Spring Fever, too?

Which herbs do you start from seed?


Catherine Ann

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

6 Tasty Brews for Wintry Weather

It is COLD outside!  Icicles hang from the eaves, the dog demands to nap indoors, the daffodils are covered in an icy coat, and I do my best to stay indoors where it is warm.  The only creatures that don't seem to mind the cold are the birds.  They flit from feeder to ground to tree branch without seeming to notice the frozen world around them.  I watch them from the window with a steaming cup of tea.

There are lots of great warming herbs and tea blends for winter weather.  Below are 6 of my favorites in no particular order:

1.  Lemon/Ginger/Honey- slice fresh lemons and ginger into a cup, add a teaspoon of honey, fill cup with boiling water and steep for 5-10 minutes.  Great for when you sense a cold coming on, or just feel a bit icky.

2.  Cardamom Tea- My friends from Sri Lanka taught me this one.  Simply add a cardamom pod or a bit of cardamom powder to your cup when brewing black tea.  Sri Lankans almost always serve tea with milk and sugar, though I use soy milk and honey in mine.  Slightly spicy and delicious.

3.  Peppermint tea- simple as placing a spoonful of dried peppermint in your infuser.  I add honey to mine.  I also like a mix of peppermint and spearmint.

4.  Chai- recipes abound, but I love the Yogi Chai Black tea bags .

5.  Peace Tea- A Mountain Rose Herbs blend that I enjoy greatly, especially when we are all cooped up indoors together and peace is in short supply.  Soothes my frazzled mama nerves!

6.  Lemon Verbena- Summer in a teacup!  If you've read my blog for any length of time you know I love anything lemon.   Lemon Verbena is the best of the best of lemony herbs.  If you don't have a plant overwintering on the windowsill (which I highly recommend); then purchase dried lemon verbena from Mountain Rose Herbs.  Delicious on its own or blended with other lemony herbs.  My year round go to tea for when I need a boost. 

What is your favorite winter tea?


Catherine Ann

Friday, February 20, 2015

Wishing on a Winter's Day

It's windy and wild outside today, and I am indoors wishing spring would come quickly.
Dandelion and chickweed are appearing in the yard, dill is growing with abandon, a fruit tree down the road is blossoming pink, and I saw the first daffodil blooming in the church garden yesterday; signs of spring abound.  Yet, I know winter is not quite finished with us here.  Cold weather is forecast for the weekend, and the last frost date won't arrive until the end of March, but one can wish for the all too brief warm days of spring when herbs and flowers and the spring vegetable garden are all vying for time and attention.

I think it is time for me to pull out the seed boxes and start a few pots of savory, chives, and nasturtiums on the windowsill.  Late winter is always a tough season here.  We have warm days and then a freeze, then a string of warm days followed by another cold snap.  I get weary of dragging pots in and out the back door, and start dreaming of a greenhouse to overwinter the citrus, bay, geraniums, and other tender herbs in.

Starting a few seeds is a nice diversion, as is sorting through the seed boxes and making a wish list of new things to try this year.  I am planning to grow savory for the first time.  I purchased seed for both summer and winter savory, after learning savory is the 2015 Herb of the Year. I will also be drawing out a new garden design as we are moving the garden from the front yard to the back and building raised beds.  I'm also thinking about an herb spiral or some sort of permaculture garden for herbs, maybe a keyhole garden. 

How are your herb gardens designed?  Do you have a formal herb garden, informal cottage garden, container garden, raised beds, or a mixture of some type? 
What projects or other things are you doing while you are waiting for spring?
What new to you herb are you going to grow this year?
What are you wishing for these days?



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