Saturday, February 1, 2014

A New Project - As Gypsies Wander


I have fallen in love...with a book. A book written by a woman in the 1940's published in the 50s once, then never again. I can only find evidence of this first pressing so the number of books out there is very limited especially in the States.

This book “As Gypsies Wander” is a rare and hard to find account of the herbalist  Juliette De Bairacli Levy's wanderings through Europe meeting with and learning from the Gypsies she encountered.

When I first learned about this book I went out on the hunt to track it down. When I found it, I saw it selling for anywhere between $200-1500. Furthermore, my hunt in the California library system was difficult finding only one that was often checked out already. When I finally did get my hands on it, I scanned all the pages with the idea of turning it in to an ebook to share with the world.

As an act of love and devotion, I have decided to hand type out this entire book. I know, I could just put out the scanned pages (as terrible as they are) but I want to do this right and I love the idea of re-reading the book on such an intimate level. This 300 page book will take me a while and after spilling the beans to a few fellow herbalists and seeing their excitement for it, I decided sharing the work as I type it out was the best course of action.

Every week I will post a new block of text from the book, including any pictures included in the page range. When I am finished, I will compile the book into an epub format and have it available for free download on the blog As Gypsies Wander.

I hope you will take this journey with me

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Moments of joy

This morning I had one of those moments where you stop for a second and realize "THIS is my life".
A lot of times you hear this in the context of something negative, like "how have I gotten to this terrible place" or "where did I go wrong" but for me, this morning, it was joyous.

THIS IS MY LIFE...and I love it.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

With a little help from the sun

Guess what friends. I'm getting married in October. It's lovely.

In the meantime I'm keeping busy makin' stuff. Here are the things I've been working on today (with a little help from the sun):

Sun tea, 4 thieves vinegar, and herbal salve

4 Thieves Vinegar

Found some apples (IN JULY) so I picked up all the first falls, cleaned off the bad parts, froze the good, and...

made some apple bread!



Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tinctures

For the past few years I have been slowly teaching myself the art of herbalism. I have chosen the route of learning each herb as needed for myself & those around me so I can actually see the herbs in action as I learn about them. This may take longer than going to a school but this is how I learn best. 

One of my mainstays at my Homemade Food Swaps has been my herbal teas.  The most potent of which is my "Active Infection" blend. This tea blend is great to start taking as soon as you feel an illness coming on, throughout colds & flus, if you have a skin infection that isn't wanting to heal, etc.

Teas are great, but if you really want to kick the healing up a notch you want a tincture.


So today, I have decided to take my tea blend, and turn it in to a tincture (some should be available for the next swap in July). I removed the spices added for flavoring and concentrated on the most potent healing herbs. 

Pau D'Arco, Astragalus root, Calendula, Nettle, Hibiscus, Turmeric, Echinacea, Elderberries



The herbs sit in an alcohol water mix so both the alcohol soluble and water soluble nutrients are extracted, which is what makes tinctures so much more potent than teas. 
Each batch takes around 6 weeks to complete and should last around a year. 


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

What Are Your Winter Holiday Traditions & Rituals?

Merry Christmas to all those who celebrate it
and 
Happy Winter & New Year to all that don't

The past few years have had me thinking a lot about holidays and traditions. I have thought about the joy they brought me as a child, the disappointments, the expectations, the longings, and the way I connect with them then and now. Since I don't have any kids yet and live so far from my sisters and their children I most often find myself skipping holidays or just minimally indulging them as an excuse to have a dinner party with friends. Yet still I have this longing for tradition & ritual. The old traditions just don't seem right though. Christmas, for example, has turned in to this monster guilt driven, money centric beast. This time of year people are stressed, out-turning their pockets, buying meaningless gifts for everyone they know just so they can have SOMETHING to hand over. It is a lot of pressure and takes away from what this time of year is supposed to be about. Gifts, if given, should be something one gives because they want to, not because they feel they have to. It should be something you feel reminds you of the person, something that makes you happy to know the person has, or something you made with that person in mind. These are the only gifts that matter.

I find that I connect most with the observation of nature, changing seasons, and the cyclical passing of time. Celebrating this time of year as a way to honor what is happening around us makes sense to me. I can connect with this. The Winter Solstice marks the shortest day of the year, and thus, the return of the sun and gradually longer days ahead. This time of year also signals the cold winter ahead when we tend to spend more time indoors with friends & family, have more time for self reflection & goal making (new years resolutions anyone?), eat hearty warm foods, and settle in to a slower, sleepy time like the plants and animals around us. These are the things I want my winter holiday rituals to focus on & honor. These are the things that are real and truthful to me. Not the new soda maker or hot dog bun toaster that wastes precious resources and never actually gets used.

In my search for new, meaningful traditions I decided I needed to first look back to my childhood and the traditions & rituals I had and loved growing up. How can I honor those traditions and achieve those feelings of joy through new traditions that I can feel good about.  My list reminded me that being around people, friends and especially family is so very important. Making seasonal crafts was always something that I looked forward to. I remember making garlands and ornaments with my sisters and I know I want that to be a part of my holidays forever. Sharing seasonal food is something that I found holds a lot of emotional weight with me. My memories of Christmas morning quiches  and cinnamon rolls bring me such joy I will definitely find a way of working them in. I have also been searching out other peoples traditions for ideas I can adopt and am finding so much inspiration out there. One I especially find heart warming is to have your family sit in a circle and have everyone tell the family member on their right a positive wish or hope they have for them in the upcoming year. I love how this act shows nothing but love for the receiver with no hope of anything in return (since the person you give your wish to is not the person giving you a wish). It's lovely.

Your Turn!
I would love to hear about YOUR Winter Holiday rituals. What do you look forward to every year and how do you choose to celebrate? Is it something you created yourself, something that evolved naturally, or a tradition that has been passed down in your family from generation to generation? What specifically do you do that represents this time of year for you?