Happy August! I know it’s cheesy but I am singing Buster Poindexter - “feeling Hot, Hot, Hot” because it’s August and in East Tennessee it’s just plain ol gross with muggy heat right now. Hope you all are staying cool enough.
There’s so much to put in this newsletter, so bear with me. Some of it is personal but of course personal lives always impact the professional. I have spent 20 years studying herbs and it is not a common passion or field to try and make a career of. In the beginning, I struggled to get people to understand what it was or what I was capable of doing with herbs. I wanted to prove it and myself to people. I was desperate to be a good and thorough example. I overworked and undervalued my time, my study and myself in that quest of proving my passion. I don't know many people who stick with the same field of study for 2 decades anymore. The information and experience I have gathered is not something that you can google, watch a couple of hours of Tik Toks or even read a dozen books and know. I want to be able to share this knowledge and use it to help people not only in my community but where ever I can. As we all know, small businesses have suffered the past year and I wish I were an exception but I am not. I want to celebrate 25 years, 30 years and so forth with you as your "friendly neighborhood herbalist" but in order for that to happen, I need to make some healthy long term changes and I need your support and understanding in those changes. I also need to be able to add to the finances of my family. The bottom line is my bottom line suffered along with many others. I'm not asking that everyone throw your money at me. I am asking that you show your support however you can. Please consider supporting my social media with post likes, or invitations to follow, or commentary. Come take a class when I can offer them or share information about the class. Book me for your garden club talk or host a class designed specifically for your group. Make a recipe I share, take a photo, post and tag the business. There are many ways to support local businesses, do what you feel called to do. Do purchase from me if you want to try a new tea, a skin balm, need a tincture or any of the other things I offer. I promise you I will not fly into space on a phallic rocket ship from these profits, but they will support my continued education and my family. Thank you for reading through my plea and now on to business stuff.
1st- August 17th marks the 20th year Anniversary of graduating from my first year of Herbal Studies. It’s really been 20 years since I had my lightbulb moment and “found” what I was going to hopefully spend most of my adult life pursuing. I still remember unpacking my box of books and just rubbing those covers, most of which I still reference today. I want to share these 20 years with you so I’m doing a month long sale for 20% off all herbal products and consults purchased through the website or personally from me. This DOES not include any products purchased from Centered or Heliotropic Healing. Coupon Code - BetterW/herbs -is entered at the checkout stage from the website. This is good starting Aug 1st and good through Aug 31st. Stock up on immune boosting or stress relief herbs for back to school, try a bath salt, get gift cards to spend throughout the year, teas, or consults! Cell Salts are excluded from the sale. Gift Cards are viable for a year from purchase so you have plenty of time to shop and those gift cards can be used for any upcoming class- Covid willing.
2nd update- As you may have noticed, I’m reworking the website, changing prices and policies. Covid, it’s quarantine and all that happened in 2020 hit so many hard and I am certainly no exception. I am changed personally and professionally, mostly for the better but it came at a price. Several aspects of life found me facing a very dark reality of stage 3-4 burnout despite all the self care that I employed. I’ve been working to heal the underlying issues that brought me to my knees and realizing that often aspects that make me a good or attentive herbalist aren’t in my best interest as a person. I need to set more boundaries and more of a rhythm in my practice, moving to less acute consults and situations. I'll paraphrase that quote from Jurassic Park - “I was so preoccupied with whether or not I could, I didn’t stop to think if I should”. Answering emails, texts or FB messages after business hours or on my personal page because I was too tired to redirect people to the business page or just to get it done. Agreeing to make a custom formula based on a few back and forth emails or bending the rules, I had set up about days I brew because it was an emergency. Fitting classes in during my off time so I could continue to work with clients when those classes or conferences were for work. Mix any of those behaviors in with the stress of virtual school, loosing my office and the state of the world and it wasn't healthy at all. SOOOOOOO, One of the many changes will be with the consults. I’m going to shorten the time of the initial consult from the 2 plus hours to 1- 1 1/2 hours. Anything not covered in that time will be addressed in the follow up check in that is scheduled at the end of the 1st appointment for about 2 1/2 weeks out. In the follow up appointments, we will discuss the progress or set backs that you are experiencing and adjust formulas or doses accordingly. We will continue to schedule check ins as needed. An added bonus of the check in consult is that clients tend to remember more about what is happening in their journey with their health and update me to anything happening that may be outside of what we are working on but could impact the efficacy of the herbs, such as change in other medications, lifestyle or wellbeing. This relationship has shown me to be so critical in working on a wide range of issues and speeding up the movement of smaller more concentrated issues. As to my personal healing, it keeps me from being in a state of “on call” where I would often get multiple people updating with a stream of back and forth emails and me doing mental gymnastics addressing too many files in a small space of time.
Custom product prices are also increasing a small amount. These take extra time and knowledge to create and need to reflect those extras. All new custom products or tweaks to products will need to have a check in consult, either in person or over the phone so I can get a very clear picture of the situation. Check in consults can be bought singular or in packages at a discounted price.
Now I realize that the added expense of check in consults and customizable products may not be in everyone’s budget, so I am diligently expanding the “greatest hits” on my website to address more issues and situations, including but not limited to simple or single tinctures that are made in small batches just like my custom varieties. I will be adding to it in the upcoming months. Stay tuned for more on this.
3rd- Another change is that I will no longer being doing acute check in appointments unless you are a current client, for now that means anyone I’ve worked with in the last 2 years. Most of the acute situations can be addressed with formulas offered on the website. This includes anyone wanting info on COVID preventatives or active COVID cases. Over a year ago, I began doing COVID intakes for people free of charge and even though I feel painfully guilty about it, I can't do it any longer. The stress of making sure I have enough info from strangers to help definitely was a lot to carry.
4th- Days off this month. As you know August is back to school time and as a mom that impacts me quite a bit. I’m taking off August 5th for a slew of parent things as my daughter attends High School Freshman Orientation and also the 19th as I move Brose to college.
5th- New Hours- M- Thursday 9:00- 4:00, Friday 9-12:00. One Saturday a month for appointments rotating times and days. I will be adding in a “late night appointment” day during the week but Cyl’s school schedule will dictate which night, so stay tuned. All orders to be made on a Friday will need to be in by 11:00 am as I am taking the afternoon’s to work on other aspects of the business and will be off line.
Basil (Ocymum basilicum) - July's Herb of the Month
There is no other herb that signifies the height of Summer to me. From it's beautiful color to it's bright taste and even it's little white flowers, Basil just gets me in the Summer feels every single time.
Most people know it's a yummy addition to just about any food coming in from the garden- more on these combos- but most don't realize it's a treasure for the Apothecary as well.
We know that Basil has been a favorite or at least an infamous herb for over 4,000 years. History is full of uses for this plant but also for stories around it's beginnings and it's purpose.
My favorite legend is that Basil draws it's name from the serpent's bite that it cured. The Basilisk was a terrible monster of lore that would kill with a single venomous bite and Basil was the plant to draw out and neutralize the venom. Not only does this appeal to my inner mythologoist but it also points out a very specific action of the herb. Basil does draw out and neutralize venom and poison of insects, plants and jellyfish. I've used it neat or as a spray or vinegar.
Another legend is from Greek Mythology, explaining some of the scientific name. Ocimus organized the combats staged in honor of Pallas who ruled Paralia or Diacria and had 50 sons. It is said that when Ocimus was killed by a gladiator, basil appeared in the ring.
We have so much to learn and share about Basil, this King of Herbs.
Basil is considered the king of herbs because it is grown everywhere from Asia, Africa and Europe. Of course it’s moved along the way of people and grows anywhere there is 6- 8 hours of sun with some heat, the more muggy and sticky the heat, the better. It’s also one of the most versatile herbs you can have in your apothecary or kitchen. Most herbs with the healing power of Basil and his brethren varieties come with attributes that make them less open for uses, like bitterness, caustic in large doses, invasive, emetic or sensitive to grow. Basil is the answer to that meme “hold my beer” because it’s so close to be a perfect plant. All varieties are pleasant tasting either cooked, boiled as a tea, fresh or in a tincture. It can be cooked with sweet or savory foods so it can star or support basically any dish. It’s an annual who often re- seeds itself but isn’t going to take over native areas. It’s flowers even if not native, feed native insects. As long as it gets that sunshine, it’ll grow and grow. There are no counter indications for basil with other medicines, herbs or illnesses in normal amounts. (anything can be overdone in mass quantities but MASS is really key here, like pounds of it daily) It’s not endangered. It’s kind of a perfect plant. Groovy, huh?
Reasons to use Basil are as expansive and impressive as the plant itself. Modern studies only seem to support and back up the empirical uses of basil as well. Basil leaf is high in antioxidants, anti inflammatory actions, they are anti spasmodic, anti microbial, anti depressive and full of vitamin K which among other things helps us retain calcium which is easily leeched from the bones by poor diet, illness, pregnancy and breastfeeding if stores are inadequate. Basil has a distinct affinity for the smallest blood vessels and capillaries making it a wonderful herb for eye health and any issue related to tremors, shaking or restless physical feelings.
Using Basil is so easy. Drink it’s tea, use a tincture and of course COOK with it often. Basil pairs with virtually all juicy fruits- tomatoes, berries, melons just to name a few. It’s wonderful with the floral notes of dark chocolate. It brings some pep to fairly basic flavors like pasta, bread, potatoes, butter, eggs etc. I love to toss it in salads in whole leaf or torn pieces. Infuse a vinegar with it and use that vinegar as a marinade or salad dressings. It’s light flavor tends to be really yummy with poultry.
**Sweet Basil Lemonade
Lemonade. Can you tell Brose is excited?
1 1/2 Cup fresh lemon juice
4 cups Basil tea
2 cups water
Maple Syrup to sweeten to your taste
**There are 34 types of Basil.
**Using basil to make pesto is just a must in the Summer. Pesto is so simple and fresh, it's adds color and spark to just about anything and it's good for you. I love anything that I don't have to be real careful about ingredients and can throw in a "little bit of this and that" - makes me feel like a real chef or potion maker.
2 cups of basil- sweet or Genovese is standard. I don't do much standard though so I throw in Dandy leaves, Kale, Spinach, sage, Lemon Balm, thyme and so much more. PLAY
2 Tablespoons of Walnuts- traditional recipes say pine nuts but pine nuts are expensive and really not sustainable to harvest at the current rate. Walnuts have those great Omegas and taste great but play with the nuts if you want- I will say Cashews are Not my favorite in a Pesto, learned the yucky way
2-4 cloves of garlic- I like 4-6 but I'm just like that, you do you
1/2 cup Olive oil or your oil of choice. I've used most of them and it's always been fine, except Coconut oil, it's too firm
1/2 cup freshly grated Parm- I really like a feta here too and I use loads of Parsley, Oregano, and Basil as my green base. It pops in such a tasty way.
A bit of lemon zest or lemon juice for brightness
Salt and Pepper to taste
**Basil, Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Cardamom Cherry Sauce
1½ cup(s) All-purpose flour
1 tsp Baking soda
1/2 tsp Table salt
1 cup Low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup Part-skim ricotta cheese
2 eggs, yolks and white separated at room temp
2 Tbsp Sugar
2 Tbsp Lemon zest
1 cup fresh basil, minced or 1/4 cup dried
2 tsp avocado Oil
Set baking sheet on middle rack in oven and preheat to 200°F.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. Stir together buttermilk, ricotta, egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest and basil in medium bowl until blended.
With electric mixer on medium speed, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until soft peaks form when beaters are lifted. With rubber spatula, gently stir flour mixture into buttermilk mixture just until flour mixture is moistened. Fold in beaten whites in two additions just until no white streaks remain.
Brush oil on large nonstick griddle and set over medium heat (if using electric griddle, preheat to 375°F). Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto griddle, spacing evenly, and cook until bubbles appear along edge and pancakes are lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Turn pancakes over and cook until lightly browned on second side, 2–3 minutes longer, transferring pancakes to baking sheet in oven as they are done. Repeat, making total of 12 pancakes. Serve sprinkled with lemon peel strips.
Cherry Cardamom Sauce
2 pounds of fresh cherries, pitted
1/4 - 1/2 cup sweetener of choice, I used brown sugar. Amount will depend on how sweet your cherries are.
1 Tbsp Cardamom
1 Tbsp Vanilla extract- I think almond or lemon would be fabulous here too
1/2 cup of water
Place all ingredients in a pan and bring to low boil for 10-15 minutes so that the cherries cook and syrup thickens.
**Basil produces a beautiful flower that is totally edible or drinkable for us and the bess ADORE it. However, if you are wanting to get the most basil leaves, you need to cut the flowers back as soon as they appear, since the plant will shift more energy into flower production and the leaves will be stunted. Throw them in your next tea or salad. I grow so much that I let several plants just go to flower for our pollinators
**I’m always studying herbals and herbalists. A few weeks ago I read "The Herb Tea Book" by Dorothy Hall- a celebrated herbalist from Australia. There was a combo of Basil & Borage tea, called a "housewife tea" It's a combo that she reports to act a remedy for the mid morning slump without caffeine. She cautions that it works much better when made from fresh ingredients so now is the perfect time to try it out. I did equal parts Basil and Borage leaf, steeped for 40 minutes ( I kinda got distracted) and strained. I left it in the fridge overnight and in the morning, I added a sprig of fresh mint to marry the flavors better. It's so lovely and does seem to keep me humming along. I'm going to try it with Holy Basil too. Play around and let me know what you think!
**Basil does NOT like the cold. Ever put your basil in the fridge or freeze and it looks like this? Many assume mold and toss when in fact it's a reaction to the cold. If you want to keep your fresh basil for a few days until you use it. Place it in a small jar or cup of water and leave it in a somewhat sunny place. Change the water every day or two and use up soon OR continue to let the basil be in the jar still changing the water and you will see roots begin to grow. You can plant these little guys as soon as the roots get about 1 inch long.
** 1 C of basil has 195% the RDA of Vit K. It helps with blood clotting, bone mineralization & absorption of vitamins
**Basil oil is a beautiful kryptonite to mosquitos. They loathe the oil and it's one the herbs and EO's in my Bug Spray. Spray it around your patio furniture, your body or repeatedly in the air where you are working to keep those little buggers away!
Sneak Peak- Herb of the month for August- Lemon Balm
August 1st- Website Sale starts- 20% off with code BetterW/herbs
August 5th- Off
August 19th- Off
September 25th - Crystalline Expo
October 7th - Private Class at Fox Den - Growing Old Gracefully or Fighting It Tooth and Nail- Herbs to help us age without making us feel old.
Wife, Mom, herbalist and friend. Feel free to change the order of the description to fit your needs, I do several times a day.