Posts

Bee Inspired

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One day a friend and I were chatting about current environmental issues, notable the endangered Rusty Patched bumble bee, and she made a statement that really made me think. She had mentioned that there is actually more bees and bee species diversity in Milwaukee County than most rural areas in Wisconsin. She has a friend who lives just west of Madison and this person claims that due to the monoculture that surrounds their farm, effective pollination of flowers and crops is poor. This discussion made me want to delve deeper. You mean to tell me that there is a higher bee population and bee species diversity in the noisy, dirty city compared to the fresh air of the country?

So I did a little research. And with most environmental problems, there's several causes. One big issue is habitat fragmentation and loss. Because more land is being cleared year after year for crops, bees have to travel further for food or settle for less nutritious food. For example, most farm land in Wisconsi…

Plant Ethics

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I belong to a group called the Milwaukee River Advocates. We work to protect and restore the natural habitat of the Milwaukee River. The green corridor along the Milwaukee River in the city of Milwaukee is an important gem in a heavily urbanized setting. The corridor provides a home to many different species of animals, birds, reptiles, fish and plants. Recently our group lead a plant hike for the community. One important topic that we discussed was the ethical treatment of plants.

Now that the DIY movement is so popular, many people are making their own herbal goodies that range from teas to tinctures. The method of gathering wild plant material is called wildcrafting. People often go into a "wild" setting (i.e. the forest, fields, etc.) and collect plant material for consumption. And for certain herbs, this may be the only technique to obtain the plants. However it is always good to remember a few things:

1. Be Respectful.
Plants are sensitive, some more than others. Always…

How to Make Rose Water at Home

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Making your own body care products is an empowering activity. It allows you to be an artist, creating and blending ingredients to make a finished product that is tailored to your own body’s unique needs. I have a lovely recipe that I use to make my own floral waters and have been using it for years. I came across it in one of Rosemary Gladstar’s books. She is one of those people I like to refer to as an “herbal revivalist”. A truly gifted and intellectual herbalist, Rosemary helped bring plant wisdom and herbal awareness to the Western world through education and availability of high quality herbs and related products. Some examples of her contributions are Mountain Rose Herbs, Traditional Medicinals and The California School of Herbal Studies (one of my alma maters).

I will use roses as an example in this recipe, but you can use other plant material such as rose geranium leaves, calendula petals or lavender. My rose bush is in bloom right now. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I d…
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New Products!
Coming this spring! We are very excited to release a facial beautification line that will feature an oil wash cleanser, a blemish stick and facial serum! As with all of our products, these items will be created with the highest-quality plant and essential oils. The image below was illustrated by a local artist that captured the beauty that we will use to represent the new line. She is Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers.


Yay! Snowbells!

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Wow! This photo was taken today, January 19th. These are snowbells (Latin name Leucojum aestivum) and depending on the severity of the winter, they can come up once the days start getting longer. Today I was a little surprised that they are already about an inch or two above ground. In 2014 they didn't come up until April! However our weather has been warmer than in the past few years. In any case, it is a joy to see them and know that spring is on the way! I'll post more photos once they are in bloom.


Herbal Miscellany in Europe

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In September I took a European tour; visiting Portugal, Spain and Morocco. Among other things, I was extremely interested in visiting essential oil distilleries and perfumeries or things related. Fortunately for me I had some opportunities in Spain and Morocco.

In Barcelona I visited the Museu Del Perfume, a tiny museum dedicated to perfume. Located in the Perfumeria Regia shop on Passeig de Gracia (it was very difficult to find. I got lost several times!) is a small room that showcases perfume bottles from ancient Greek times to present. Most descriptions were in French, which I don't speak, however it was interesting to view the bottles.






In Morocco my friends and I received our own private herbal session from Abdul at the Herboristerie Bab Agnou, an apothecary in Marrakech.

Abdul presented several herbal combinations for skin conditions used in the Berber culture, some of which have been used for centuries.



As we were trekking through the Atlas Mountains, we came across a woman…

Mushroom Madness

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I recently camped in the Northern Kettle Moraine area of Wisconsin. It has been a drier-than-average summer, however it rained cats and dogs for about 2 days.

And of course after a good rain, you get a nice flush of mushrooms! I saw several different species ranging from coral mushrooms to turkey tails to Indian pipes (which is actually a parasitic organism of fungus).

As I hiked down trails in the damp woods I was surprised by the explosion of mycelial growth. There were mushrooms everywhere! Nature never ceases to amaze me.

Mushrooms are amazing organisms. In fact, fine networks of mycelium grow on the ground waiting for the right conditions to fruit and become what we know as mushrooms. These mycelium help digest and recycle large organic material, producing accessible nutrients for other organisms. Mushrooms have even been used as a remediation organism to clean up heavy metal and chemical toxicity in soil, truly acting as Nature's recyclers and detoxifiers.

For more fascin…