“8 Ancient Rituals to Renew Your Life, Spirit & Happiness” by Debra Macleod

Humanistic Paganism

People love the idea of a fresh start. A clean slate. A chance to cleanse past mistakes, to right old wrongs, to move forward in life without the burden of bad memories or unhealthy habits. It’s why we’re drawn to significant dates such as the first day of a new week or new month, our birthday, or the New Year. We use that time, that “stroke of midnight” click of the second-hand, to hit the reset button on our lives. It’s a little bit of magic.

For many people, the reset button ushers in lifestyle changes like diet and exercise that we hope will improve our bodily health. How many of us have said, “Okay, I’m going to watch what I eat – starting Monday.”

But what about our spirit? How many of us dig a little deeper to discover that our spiritual and emotional well-being need to be renewed…

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This App Shows How Climate Change Is Affecting the World Around You


You’ve heard about what climate change is doing the arctic and to the sea levels around the world. But sometimes it can be hard to understand what’s happening in your own backyard. A new app called Field Notes – Earth shows you just that.

The free app, manufactured by tech mapping company Esri, is part of a broader effort by the company to put data about people, climate and geography at your fingertips.

Take data on the location of TIME’s office in New York City. The app tells me that our office is located in a warm zone and, by 2050, it’s expected to get much warmer. The nearest earthquake zone is 240 miles (386 km) away and the nearest volcano more than 1,100 miles (1,770 km) away. Unsurprisingly, the app tell me, the soil isn’t great for growing crops. You can get the same data, and more, for any…

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Spiral Herb Garden Chart

Fuentes Farm

Spiral Herb Garden


Spiral Herb Gardens are like the gift baskets of Permaculture—most everyone takes one home after an introduction to the subject. However, when we begin to dig into the gift that is Spiral Herb Gardens we find that they resemble Pandora’s Box. The layers of information expand exponentially in relation to the diameter, height, location, orientation, elevation, soil structure, drainage, building materials, climate, and plant selection of your Spiral Garden. I consider this gardening technique as the Permaculturalist’s master key for opening your mind to sustainable living.

Spiral Herbs Gardens utilize 9 out of the 12 Permaculture principles [1]:

2. Catch and Store Energy – Water drains from the top of the spiral to the small pond at the bottom.

3. Obtain a Yield – Sixteen different herbs have been included in this design.

5. Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services – Orienting the garden with the…

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Pesticide Free Garden: Natural Ways to Fight Off Pests and Save Your Garden [Infographic]

Make Your Own Buzz!


Next week is National Pollinator Week! I didn’t even know this was a thing, but I’m glad it is and I think it needs to be shouted from every rooftop. This week is brought to us by the Pollinator Partnership, who I found out is funded by Monsanto and Bayer. Ugh. The very organizations that are killing them via  “Monsanto’s genetically engineered, herbicide-tolerant ‘Roundup Ready’ crops,  Monsanto’s insecticide-producing, genetically engineered ‘Bt’ Crops, and  Monsanto’s genetically engineered seeds treated with Bayer’s insecticides”. Read more about it here… it’s sickening.

I feel like the situation is dire for our pollinators and our food supply so I still feel that our pollinators are worth celebrating and talking about.

What can you do?

1. Avoid buying bee killing pesticides like: Monsanto’s Roundup, Dow’s Rodeo or Bayer 2-1 Systemic Rose and Flower Care. Don’t forget that seedspotting soil and plants are also pre-treated with neonics.

A quick weed killer that can be used in place of Roundup is as follows:

-1/2 cup of salt, preferably sea salt or Himalayan salt

-1 gallon organic or non-gmo vinegar

-1/4 cup all-natural dish soap (for sale at local health food stores)

Mix ingredients and place in a spray bottle. The correct ratio is a 1/2 cup of salt for every gallon of vinegar and 1/4 cup for this recipe.

For seeds try:

•    GrowOrganic

•    Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. 

•    Seeds of Change

•    The Seed and Plant Finder 

•    Seed Savers Exchange

2. Let Dandelions and Clover grow in your lawn. This is by far the easiest thing that a person can do. Bees love them. Don’t worry, we won’t judge you for not having a perfect lawn 🙂

3. Plant bee friendly flowers: lamb’s ear, which has some added benefits that you can read about here), hyssop, lupine, bee balm,  coneflowers, heather, lavender, heliotrope, etc. You can also find mixes that are native to your region to make things super easy.

4. Buy Organic. Let your dollars do the talking for you. Support organic farmers. If they are local, even better!

5. Add Your Name. Sign Petitions to let your voice be heard regarding passing the Saving America’s Pollinators Act .  Another petition can be found here.

Also, tell Lowe’s to stop selling bee killing plants and pesticides here.

The more I read about this, the sicker it makes me. I am hopeful that the message will continue to spread and we can change this course before we lose our valuable pollinators.

Source: Honey Bee Health via Organicconsumers.org


Kombucha Overload

2014-05-02 20.57.42There was a time I’d only seen this mystical liquid on the interwebs. Everyone was drinking it and it is supposed to be a magic elixir of health and good feeling. It took some time but I found it randomly in a supermarket a bit to the south of me (read: too far for a regular trip). I bought some and it was good, but not the best thing I ever tasted.

I recognize that Kombucha has some health benefits and some less publicized health risks. The moral of the story is if you are going to drink, start slowly and  speak with your doctor if you have problems with your kidneys or liver.

So, I gathered some supplies and SCOBY from an online source and brewed my first batch. It was pretty good! A no frills, straight up fizzy tea…better than I expected. I didn’t think the hubs would like it, sometimes I think his taste buds are from outer space because he doesn’t seem to like delicious food sometimes. I was pretty surprised when I found him drinking a glass of it that I didn’t pour for him. He chose it willingly! I had to hide my amazement.

Here is what I did not anticipate in my first couple tries:

  • As you prepare your first batch for secondary fermentation, the SCOBY will have to be moved to a second batch so you should already have a cooled batch of sweet tea.
  • The SCOBY grows pretty quickly (what the heck am I going to do with all this stuff?)
  • You can add fruit, spices during the secondary fermentation to jazz up your drink . I like raspberry and ginger.
  • It’s best to have larger jars and a non-metal funnel. I didn’t have larger jars (I only had the one huge one for brewing) so when I did the secondary fermentation, I quite a few small ones and it was a bit cumbersome.

I got a little worried about the growing SCOBY situation. Unfortunately for me, the people I know in town aren’t willing to try Kombucha, so giving some of the SCOBY to them (I would have been thrilled) is out of the question. I put some in the compost heap–going back to the Earth couldn’t hurt. I went to the only expert I know – Google- because surely those can’t be the ONLY options. Here’s what I found:

Via Mockingbird Meadows:

1. Use it as a facial –put it on your face for 15 minutes

2. Dry out and give it to your pet as a chewy treat.

3. Put a small piece under a band-aid to assist in healing cuts and burns

4. Dress plants that like a high pH with it directly

5. Blend a small piece of it into a smoothie

6. Add a small bit of it to flower vases in order to rejuvenate your flowers

Via Holistic Quid:

7. Make SCOBY Jerky- this post has pictures and everything

And finally- for the Crafty Folks:

8. Make some jewelry- Check them out here and here. It’s incredible. Who knew?! The internet literally has everything.

I may get bold one day and try some of this. Especially the facial thing. It skeeves me out right now, but if I’m two glasses of wine deep, I might try it 🙂

Today I’m going to prep a batch for secondary fermentation, maybe with blueberries this time, and make a SCOBY Hotel for some of the extra. I didn’t realize that you could just KEEP some.

I’d love to hear about your Kombucha experience! What advice or ideas do you have?


Building My Dream Herb Garden

photo_12348_20090723I remember walking through a colonial era house in Elizabeth City, NC a few years ago. There was a beautiful herb garden planted near the front. The design reminded me of a traditional English herb garden, complete with a gravel path although on a much smaller scale. It was so beautiful and inspiring. I imagined that there were herbs used for cooking and healing and maybe some just because they are pretty but I don’t’ suppose that one would be planted for that reason alone.  I also pictured herbs hanging in bundles from the rafters and long lines of herb-filled jars on shelfs in the kitchen. It is a cozy, warm image in my mind.

This last week, I finally have my garden plot prepared and planted a few aromatic herbs. I’d only heard of two of them before but went out on a limb to try  some new ones.

Here’s what I know I have in no particular order: Lemon Balm, Anise Hyssop, German Chamomile, and Cinnamon Basil.

About the only thing I know about any of those herbs is that they can probably go in a tea bag and taste pretty good. It’s time to expand my knowledge.

Lemon Balm:  I opted to plant this because it attracts bees and I want to do all I can to make a nice place for both the bees and my plants. It’s a calming herb and has been used since the Middle Ages to reduce stress & anxiety, promote sleep, improve appetite and ease the pain of indigestion (read gas & bloating).  I feel like it’s got quite a bit of credibility. Lemon Balm is usually combined with herbs such as valerian and chamomile for relaxation so it’s a good thing I added some Chamomile. It can be used in creams to treat cold sores also.

Cinnamon Basil: I was nervous about this one but after some brief research, I’m very pleased to add it to my garden. It is a common ingredient in Italian food, which I don’t make all that often, but can be used in Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese cooking as well. I found some cookie recipes here that I’m exciting about trying. Although I will have to adjust to keep them gluten free. Cinnamon Basil has an impressive list of medicinal uses which include: allergies, cold and flu, respiratory disorders, etc. The most appealing thing to me is that it can repel mosquitos. Yay! I can’t wait to test this! It is advised to plant it near decks or maybe make a centerpiece with it during picnics. You can also rub it on the skin. Last Summer I got a mosquito bite on the bottom of my foot so this could have saved me some misery. Additionally, a poultice can be made with it to use for insect bites and wart removal. Now, what the heck is a poultice?

German Chamomile: The most popular herb in the world. In the Middle Ages chamomile was used as a love potion! More recently this herb is used to treat many issues including anxiety, digestive issues, muscle spasm, skin conditions, and mild infections. More specifically, chest colds, sore throats gum inflammation acne, eczema and minor burns. Sounds good! The white and yellow flower heads are what is used to make the teas, ointments, and extracts.

Anise Hyssop: I don’t prefer the taste of anise but given that this plant attracts butterflies and bees and is repellant to deer and my nemesis – moths, I decided to try it.  This herb can help with blood sugar control, relieve respiratory symptoms, and improve digestion. A warning though- do not consume while pregnant. I’m pretty interested in this jelly and cocktail recipe.  The Methow Valley Herbs website has a wonderful post about Anise Hyssop.  Here is a recipe for an Oxymel that will help loosen mucus, made with Anise. Interesting stuff.

I have a mint plant left to add to the garden. With mint, I make the most healing elixir that I know of: mojitos. They take me to a sunny, tropical place in my mind and I am completely at ease.

That’s what I’m starting with. It’s not in an elegant, traditional garden. It’s not even a complete medicinal garden. I’m not even sure what a complete medicinal garden looks like. Here’s what I know: I have a while to watch these lovelies grow, I will enjoy the butterflies and the bees, and I will be ready when cold season hits. I will let you know how it goes 🙂