Showing posts from 2013

RRRAGS-Riverwest Random Recycable Art & Gift Show

Come check out the talent in the Riverwest neighborhood! 40 vendors showing off their wares. Rare and unique items that will make perfect gifts for the holidays.

Shop Local!

This Sunday!

Buy Local Gift Fair
Grab a beer and do your holiday shopping at a venue that features some of Milwaukee's most unique businesses, artists and crafters. 40 LOCAL vendors under one roof!
Brew City Botanicals will  provide the perfect holiday gifts for your loved ones!

Sunday, December 8th
Lakefront Brewery Palm Garden
1872 N. Commerce St.

Fig Trees

Well I finally have my 'Chicago Hardy' fig trees ready for the winter. They look as snug as a bug in a rug :)
Since I live in Zone 5, I have to really insulate these guys for the winter. They are only hardy to Zone 6. After the trees dropped their leaves, I used twine to tie the branches together in a conical shape. I then used metal stakes to surround the trees then wrapped chicken wire around the stakes, making a frame. I filled the frame with leaves, pine needles and other garden debris; then finally wrapping burlap (old coffee bags from my local coffee shop) around the chicken wire. I also did this to a new rose bush. Hopefully all will be well for the trees and they will produce a lovely crop of figs next summer.

Frozen Calendula

Early snow here in Wisconsin. Well...OK, maybe not. But I wasn't ready for it and neither were my calendulas! The day before it was in the 50's and my flowers looked so comfy in the sun. That night a cold front came through and in the morning we got a sleet & snow mix. I found my calendulas packed with ice and snow.

Slowing Down

At this time of year you may notice that you want to sleep more, crave starchy foods and want to slow down a bit; this is actually normal. Despite our modern society, the human body is designed to function in tandem with nature, ebbing and flowing with the seasons.
Try to honor your body and allow yourself to slow down, even if it is for only 10 minutes a day. Give your brain and body a break in a quiet space. The results will be of great benefit to you.

More mushrooms...Hen of the Woods!

I found this beauty down by the Milwaukee River over the weekend. It is known as the Hen of the Woods and is a culinary delight! I gave half of it to my parents, dried about 1 quart and will saute the rest tonight.
I am always surprised by the variety and availability of wild foods that can be found in urban areas. I have found several types of mushrooms only a 1/2 block's walk from my house. Mushrooms include shaggy manes, puffballs, turkey tails, sulfur shelf, oysters and hen of the woods. From the plant world I have found wild leeks, wild ginger, and blackberries. Often in early spring I see Maple Trees getting tapped for maple syrup. I am truly blessed to have such a beautiful wild area so close.

It's Mushroom Season!

The turkey tails are out again! These slightly fuzzy mushrooms resemble little turkey tails and grow when conditions are moist and the temperatures are cool at night but above 50 degrees during the day.
Turkey tail mushrooms (Trametes versicolor) have a lot of health benefits. They are usually consumed as a tea that has been decocted (steeped in hot water for about 20-30 minutes) for medicinal purposes. Some benefits include strengthened immune system, energy enhancer and anti-cancer properties. There has been some great research conducted by Bastyr University on the efficacy of turkey tail mushrooms and cancer:

So take a walk in the woods and see what you can find! Turkey tails normally grow on dead hardwoods and are a shelf fungus, therefore grow in a "shelf" or group. You rarely will find just one.

Summer Still Holds On

I love it! We have been truly blessed this fall with great weather. It has been pretty much non-stop sunshine and warm temperatures for most of September and into October. I came upon a clematis in my garden still blooming :)

Pink Spotted Hawk Moth

Yes, this little guy is an insect, not a hummingbird. I caught this beauty in my front yard feeding on phlox. It was so busy that it didn't seem to mind that I was so close to it. These moths act similar to hummingbirds in regards to their feeding habits. They feed on deep-throated flowers such as morning glories, hastas and phlox, pollinating on the way.


It's that time of the year again. A time of transition where our bodies start acclimating to the cooler temperatures and shorter days. If the body is not balanced, the changes that these natural cycles produce can cause stress to an already stressed body. The liver is one of the organs that does a multitude of things, a true multitasker. It metabolizes hormones, produces precursors to hormones, helps eliminate toxins, assists in digestion, just to name a few. In fact, to date, researchers have discovered that there are more than 500 functions performed by the liver. Wow! So what can we do to support this vital organ? One major way is through nutrition. The following recipe is one of my favorites to snack on. It is so tasty and relatively easy to make. Burdock helps the liver eliminate and flush out toxins more efficiently, maintains healthy blood, helps keep skin healthy and clear, supports the immune system...just to name a few.
Enjoy and happy pickling!

Pickled Burdock or Gobo:

New Pics!!!

Photography is not one of my strong suits. However I am very excited about the ones I took of my lotions. As you can see I make three different varieties. Cocoa Butter & Rose is an excellent lotion for very dry skin, it penetrates deep in the skin and delivers much needed moisture. The scent is rich and decadent, combining rose with cocoa butter. 
Rosemary & Cedar is made with shea butter and is a light, but effective moisturizer. It has a great earthy scent that is nice for both men and women.
Shea Butter & Orange Blossom has a nice floral blend that is reminiscent of summer. Also containing shea butter, it provides everyday moisture.

Rub A Dub Dub, What's in Your Tub?

Many people do not realize that what we put on our skin greatly impacts our health. Materials that are applied to the skin immediately are absorbed and enter the bloodstream. Because of this process, you can actually absorb more toxins through the skin than through the digestive system!
There have been several studies that link certain man-made chemicals to skin disorders, inflammatory diseases and even cancer (for more info, please visit!
Below is just a short list of what to avoid in body care products. Repeated exposure to these type of ingredients can create an accumulative toxic affect and eventually disease.

1. Fragrance: "Fragrance" is usually a chemical cocktail and refers to hundreds of different chemicals. Since the FDA does not regulate body care products, companies can use all sorts of toxic chemicals in their products. They do this because it is cheap (for example, companies will use "fragrance" instead of essential oils because …


I finally have a small area in my front yard that has enough sun to grow calendulas! This cheery flower has SO many medicinal qualities. It is well-known as having anti-inflammatory properties and helps heal damaged and inflamed skin. Some of the other benefits include having anti-septic capabilities, assists in shrinking varicose and spider veins, assists in healing oral lesions & sore throats and helps heal ulcers. The petals are edible and can dress up any salad.
Shine on calendula, shine on!


My first batch of rose petals and buds to be made into rose floral water. One of my bushes is producing a lot of flowers this year. I have two more that aren't quite ready to bloom yet. They also get less sun than the large bush. Some of the rose petals will be dried and used in recipes for facial scrubs, sachets and other products.

Lady's Mantle

I was out inspecting my garden after days of rain and noticed how lovely the raindrops looked on the Lady's Mantle. They look like gems nestled in the folds of the leaves and buds!
Lady's Mantle (Achemilla vulgaris) was known in medieval times as "a woman's best friend" due to its medicinal benefits such as reducing menstrual pain and easing symptoms of menopause. It is still widely used today in Europe for the same issues.

Spring Cleaning

Most people are unaware that the body conducts a "spring cleaning". It is one of the natural processes that allows the body to gear up for summer and to ease out of "hibernation" mode (our bodies are meant to slow down during the cold winter months and become very active during the warm summer months. A concept that is unheard of and no longer honored in our modern day lifestyle). For centuries, different cultures would rely on herbs such cleavers, nettles and dandelions to help aid in the detoxification process. These herbs stimulate the lymphatic system as well as the liver and kidneys. By enhancing these channels of elimination, you allow the body to get the stagnant "gunk" out of the system, providing vitality and energy just in time for the warm season.
One of my favorite beverage recipes includes a nettle infusion with fresh lime juice. To make you can either harvest your own nettle leaves or buy nettle tea from your local health food store. Put abo…

April Showers Bring May Flowers...Right?

Wow! This spring in Wisconsin has been tough. With cooler than normal temperatures and copious amounts of rain, I often wonder if it will ever warm up! I found these plants coming up in my front yard that reassured me that it should not be too much longer until warmer weather appears.
Ahhh, the promise of spring indeed! Pictured from top to bottom: crocus, daffodils and tulips.

Blue Chamomile

I recently returned from a two week trip to the tropics. With the lovely weather I encountered some sort of biting flies that I am still feeling the effects from. I've applied all sorts of salves, oils and essential oils to ease the itching. While they did help, the itching would return. Then I had an idea. I use blue chamomile essential oil in my Itch Relief Salve. Why don't I just put some undiluted blue chamomile essential oil on the bites?  And just like that, the itch is gone!
Blue chamomile, also known as blue tansy (Tanacetum annum) is a not too commonly known. It is a plant from the Aster family that, when distilled, produces a lovely blue color. The constituent that is responsible for the blue tint is called azulene. Azulene works well to combat inflamed, irritated and damaged skin. It also has great antihistamine properties and because of this is can be used for allergic outbreaks as well as insect bites. It also is useful when applied to strains, sprains and sore mu…

Wintery Walk

Even thought I can't wait until spring arrives, the walk I took last weekend reminds me of how beautiful winter is. We had a storm late last week that produced wet, heavy snow that had great "sticking" ability. Every tree, branch and stick was covered with thick snow.

I also saw a small flock of Common Goldeneyes on the river. The males were doing their courtship displays. Spring is definitely right around the corner.

Meyer Lemons

My Meyer Lemon tree is in bloom! The smell is incredible. I also have a few baby lemons that have started to develop. It is so nice to see, especially in the midst of a winter storm.

And more blossoms on the way...

Snowbells Already?!

Wow, the photo was taken today, January 12. These are snowbells (Latin name Leucojum aestivum) and here in Wisconsin they typically bloom in February. Last year the ones in my backyard bloomed on February 17th. Today I was a little surprised that they are already about an inch or two above ground. However our weather has been warmer than usual in the past few years. In any case, it is a joy to see them and know that the sun is staying out longer and that spring is on the way!