Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Lessons from my life part 5

So what does a working woman with children, a husband out of work, who is battling unaware seasonal depression because she is not geting sunlight or human contact struggle with the most?


Stress of finances.

Stress over some of the bad choices my kids made in this time.

Stress of deadlines

Stress of failing

Stress of getting fat

Stress of the condition of the world.

And that is just the big stressors. What about the little ones like, "Why is the car overheating randomly?

or the old lady feeling like I may be hellbound and become a drunk because I am not attending church right now.

It is said over and over that stress is a slow and silent destroyer. The body cannot work in harmony like it should when stress alters the flow of energy.
The adrenals feeling the fight or flight response all the time is surely not healthy, yet that is the way our lifestyles are bent toward. Continual ongoing stress.

The only thing I can say about this, my friends is that we all need to find our own ways of coping and making peace with life. Pray. Live well. Do the best you can.
There are many good herbs to help with these things if we just dont stress so much that we reject the simple plants that ease.

Sharing my week with you before departure

Tommarrow shoppe is closed and my daughter Rachel, her baby and I are renting a car to move them to Wyoming where her Rachels dad lives.
I will spend 9 days with Rachel and Meg and hopefully can help support her during the transition.
I will not have computer access so it will actually be much like a vacation in the Rockies.

I brought some herb books I need to finish and my Newcombs wildflower guide in hopes many plants are peeking.

Here is a bit here and there of our wildharvested plants, and cultivated plants, and the new beds we are making in the front.

Blessings to you all and we'll see you in a couple weeks

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Herbalist Spotlight-Jess

I was blessed to get some input from fellow herbalist Jess.
I loved her encouraging discussion about walking the path and learning as you go.
It reminded me so much of how we need to take steps to get ANYWHERE and not be afraid to take them or to make a blunder now and then.

Jess is a 28 year old female, partnered, and mother of a 2 and a half year old son.
Jess lives her herbal life in South West Wisconsin in the Kickapoo Valley.
I asked her about her introduction into herbs and here is her story.

As a college student I was employed at a food cooperative. I spent hours
perusing the bottles of tinctures and other herbal wares, not knowing what
a majority of the plants looked like or even were. I felt intrigued and
called to learn more but did not have the faintest idea where to begin!
Probably a common predicament for many people first called to a craft.
Attendance at childbirth as a doula also sparked my interest in herbs,
childbearing women, and kids. Radical politics and an interest in
self-help health care, in my mind, lead naturally into a communion with
herbs and wild foods. Meanwhile back at the co-op a brochure for an
herbal conference at the Rocky Mountain School for Botanical Studies
arrived. I needed to go! A friend and I road tripped from central
Wisconsin to Colorado, to spend two days in herbal heaven. I listened to
amazing teachers, and saw people drinking these luscious herbs in quart
jars. Hmmm later in a workshop I learned about these nourishing
infusions per Susun Weed and I couldn't wait to make them myself. That
fall was transformation, I collected comfrey leaves, and dandelion roots
and ordered a couple pounds of nettles. It felt like a journey from
eyeing up the tinctures bottles to actually tasting and preparing herbs.
After some years of smoky bars and college life herbs were a breath of
fresh air, literally for sure!
Jess was 22 at the time.

Jess further shares about some influences along her herbal path. This is what she says about that.
Susun Weed and the Wise Woman Tradition was my introduction to herbs and I
hold those beliefs dear. Books and writings by Matthew Wood have added
depth to my understanding of people and plants. I admire Rebecca
Hartman’s style on her blog The Herbwife's Kitchen; it appeals to my
straightforward sensibilities. Wilds foods enthusiast and author Steve
Brill inspires me. I've been studying with Aviva Romm and am awed by her
dedication to her students and general presentation of herbal medicine. I
love the herbal zines I've picked up over the years too, reading other
peoples experiences with plants. Anyone who is grounded and assisting
their community to be participants in their health care gets me excited.
And of course Nature herself, her work has guided and taught me

I was curious as to some of Jess' favortir methods of herbal applications and she shares this thought with us.

Adding fresh plants into cooking is delicious and one of my favorite ways
of using herbs. Standard brews or nourishing infusions are a regular
fixture on the counter. I most often use water based preparations, teas
and decoctions, but like to keep the pantry full of all sorts of
concoctions like tinctures, oils, honey, and salves.

Some of the events that have encouraged and shaped Jess are reflected in this statement.

Within a couple of months I saw Susun Weed twice in 2002 and those events
propelled me into plant medicine. Honesty and nourishment stick out in my
mind as something I carry on from those lectures.

Some of her community herbal work is teaching medicine making classes at a Free School. Mostly Jess' work
with the public is impromptu, occurring on playdates or over tea in her
home. He would like to offer specific herbal classes to birth workers
such as doulas and midwives, someday.
She offers consults with friends and family but does not currently advertise as such.

Jess states, I love bringing super star teachers to my area to speak!

How can people contact you to find out more about what you offer locally, Jess?
Email is great:

Jess, Do you have a vision for your work in the future or are you seeing how it

Sharing the outdoors and medicine making with my son is at the moment
central to my vision as an herbalist. In the future, I would love to work
in a cooperative setting with other herbalists and offer barter or sliding
scale classes and services. Continue to network and meet other grassroots
herbalists. I want to continue to teach people skills to make their own
medicines and ID plants.

I asked Jess to leave us with one word of wisdom and she shares this very encouraging thought.

I used to get hung up on finding the right or best way to make herbal
preparations. I would decide to make something and then obsess over the 6
different ways I could make it, but now I revile in experimenting and
making errors. It has expanded my understanding of plants and taken
some pressure off; it’s supposed to be fun after all!

More Spring plants for ya

Today I bring more plants to the blog:) Doesn't spring liven your senses, but remember her season is short, so slow down to observe and ENJOY IT! This year I am and what joy!

Here is Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis

This is on the United Plant Savers endangered list so we have some planted here in our forest edge where it likes to be. We also have black cohosh and american ginseng planted and when that comes up I will be sure to share a pic.

Grape Hyacinth
Muscari racemosum

This was planted here prior to our buying this house 5 years ago. I love these littel plants although they are fading now.

Mystery plant I dunno for sure
This may be a wild geranium? If you know please comment:)

Star of Bethlehem Ornithogalum umbellatum
These too are planted and some have migrated into the Ozark woods too. I delight in these as well. They are poisonous I understand so I leave them be to show off their beauty.

Stinging Nettles Urtica dioica
I have a video on yesterdays entry to show this after harvest. That night I sauteed in coconut oil with garlic and some chicken broth...oh so good along with some poke.

I have some drying right now as well. You can see more about nettles

Monday, April 28, 2008

Nettles...its whats for dinner

Sharing the harvest, prior to creating a delicious meal.

Sauteed fresh farmers market onion and crushed garlic in a bit of coconut oil. So yummy.

Added poke in after cooking in a few changed of water.

I added just a bit of vinegarette to flavor.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Lessons from my life part 4

Here is the picture I promised. ;)

Well I do have to throw this in because it is part of the lessons, however there is a bit of a different expression of why. Todays lesson is DIET.
Yes, yes we always hear this, yet its a true problem for so many of us.

Now let me say that I battled weight all my life. I was always 10# overweight as a kid until I was a teen and chose some unhealthy methods to get thin.
Then I had babies and the rollercoaster ride began again.

I learned to let all the fashion and desire of being "something" go years ago. I became anchored to mothering like many of us, but don't let yourself get to far on the other end of just not caring for yourself. There is another lesson on this coming:)

After so many up and downs of weight loss, I decided to try low carbing because I saw a picture of a mama who lost a great deal of weight, she looked so much like me too. I send her an email on a message board and she told me she did Atkins.
So I bought the book, read it, and began my weight loss journey.

I had great success with it, but I must be honest, I felt like I had a yucky mouth all the time and sometimes I would not sleep at night with all that fat burning going on. Outside of that, I would not complain. You eat fats and protein to fill you, enough veggies for nutrition, and keep the carbs low so that fat burning occurs internally by a process called ketosis.

You see for about a decade I have been eating good carbohydrates and healthier foods, but it was not enough. Carbohydrates are a problem for me.
I either crave more food after consuming carbs, or hold onto some weight.
Low carbing did the trick, for a season. I at times felt emotional and not normal that I could not eat like my friends who could walk into the health food store, grab an organic chicken burrito and a juice and be ok. Or to indulge in a cookie now and then and not spiral out of control.

So I decided to go off low carb and try my hand at consumption in moderation.

Well sadly, I have 20 pounds on me again and especially with the lack of hormones and activity, my heart gives me a message via palpitations that I am in the danger zone again.

And getting back on the wagon has been hard!

Now some folks dont have a problem with what they eat and seem to do fine. Gosh I wish I were you! lol

But I see that carbs, even good ones are my battle. I hate it, but its true.

So, for those of you that may be heavy, please consider the health benefits of losing weight and consider if you may be insulin resistant or if carbs cause some problems for you.

BECAUSE, not only can carbs add weight to some of us, but as I found in my winter experience, that they may also cause Candida.

Candida seems to be a word thrown around so commonly for everything ailing mankind, it frustrates me. Yet, that was part of the lesson. I learned that candida can come very quick on you suddenly and that possible other problems could have been candida all along.
And of course what can cure you of candida? Well a low carb diet of course. So observe your body. Do you get vaginal yeast or bad scalp?
Is your tongue swollen and has any coating on it?
Feet problems with itching or athletes foot?
For males, jock itch?

Try changing your diet and dropping some of those carbs and you might fare better.
You can see more at my friend Darcey's blog

And if you need some inspiration, Kalyn is a South Beach Follwer. She has lost 30 # I beleive and is a faithful food blogger of low carb delights.

And I tell ya, mix together burdock root, milk thistle seed say a handful into a quart of filtered water and let sit about an hour in a stainless steel pot. Put the lid on too. After the house, turn the heat on and allow to start simmering, then keep the heat very very low for about 15 minutes or so.
Cool a bit, strain and drink.
You can save the herb mix and do it again once you have drunk the tea. I use mine 2-3 times over.
This will help a sluggish liver and protect liver cells.
If your skin is funky, soemtimes this tea will help clear that if it is liver related.

And we cannot leave this lesson without discussing CAFFEINE. Oh yes, caffeine the addictive substance most of us indulge in. I know I do.

So, what does a 12 hour a day woman in the cold months of winter do? Why she makes plenty of herbal tea:) But when hubby is home, well that turns to an extra pot of coffee.

Now in our younger years, that did not seem to be much of a problem. However, as I get older, boy does it tear me up.
Caffeine can really irritate the digestive system and the bladder.

And overconsumption can not only add stress, but also cause breast pain. I am not sure why that is, but when I drink too much coffee my breasts hurt.

I must say that in the winter, our health was great. Plenty of herbal tea warming on the woodstove and good eats, mostly bone broth soups and stews. We were very healthy and that part we did right, but toward the end, the sugary treats of spring holidays were around and coupled with excess coffee consumption, laid a prime foundation for disaster for me.

So just a word to the wise, examine your eating habits, track them on the free fit day calculator if you want to see your nutrition, calories, fat and carb counts.

What we put into our body is the foundation of health.

And good habits as we are younger may avoid some pitfalls as we get older and build our bodies to be stronger as we age.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

More Spring Plants

I have noticed that many older ladies with full vibrant lives, take care of themselves.
How they do that will be unique to each woman, but many get perms, color their hair, wear makeup, use henna, make their own creams, use herbs, whatever.
The similar vein in all this is taking care of themselves. Which is rather impressive to me right now.

My son went on a trip last week to be with his dad and get some things worked out in his life. The last thing he said to me had soemthing to do with my grey hair. And ya know, it bothered me some because I have been feeling old and worn out lately.

It is getting better, but the observation of these older ladies has really taken hold onto my heart. I want to live and live vibrantly. So taking care of myself is a must!

So, after working hard all week to gather extra funds, I spent some on ME! On getting my hair foiled. it is very natural looking and just brightened things up for me. I love it.

I will get a pic soon.

So just in case you feel herbalists or natural people are perfect, I am always such a good example of

So here are some plants today.

Dandelion Taraxacum officinale

During a bout of struggle physically, I dug up the bitter roots of the dandelions growing right now......tiny little buggers, could gobble em up in one bite, yet they probably helped so much.
We have been eating the younger leaves in salads for several weeks now as well as the yellow petals. I have made dandelion massage oil which I have used already and need to make more actually.

The amazing Dandelion made it though a raging fire in our burn pile last week so she is worn and burnt but very much alive. kinda like ME:)

Dead Nettle
Lamium purpureum
We eat this too in salad and soups. Most of the plants though are mixed in with other greens for our rabbit.

Yellow Dock Rumex crispus
There is some conflicting info on this plant. Some herbals say to cook in 2-3 changes of water and some say it is not neccessary. I have been. I like to be safe usually. I had a huge plant in one of our growboxes that I had to uproot for the plants I want in there. So now I also have yellowdock root I will be tincturing.

We have been eating the leaves in soup with organic sausage and other veggies. I make a nice broth then add them after cooking in a few changes of water

Dogwood Cornus florida
The beauty of the wild dogwoods in the Ozarks is unsurpassed. Our serviceberrys and forsythias present the first show of flowering trees, then comes our dogwoods and redbuds (that are purply pink flowers)
I have read that native americans used the small twigs for tooth health. Boiling the bark for lowering fever, and a pioneer treatment for malaria.

Sambucus nigra
I think I have shared this already that the Elder has much folklore around its presence. We have mowed, weed whacked and busted this plant up so many times over the past couple years...and this year she flowers! OH JOY!
Now to decide if I harvest the flowers or let them create the berries.

You want to use the black berries or dark purple variety. The seeds of the red berries are toxic or more toxic. I guess the seeds or the dark berries can cause vomiting too so cooking them down is best.
There are so many useful ways to use elder. The flowers and berries are anti viral and stimualtes the immune system. A hot tea with the flowers will help sweat out a fever. A cold tea is diuretic.
Good for upper respiratory infection.
You can make a sore throat remedy vinegar with the flowers. Or a syrup. The green leaves can be macerated into oil and made into salve for ulcerations, hemorrhoids and such.

There is a saying that where Elder flourishes, a wise woman resides....when I saw the flowers, my ego plumped up a

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lessons from my life part 3

So, in this busy season I experienced, the mistakes I made were factors in poor health after the busy season was over. A crash I guess you could say.
I shared with you already about posture. I shared about human contact.

Today. Movement.

You see, 4 months of working at the computer, not going anywhere, not doing any physical work caused me to become weak and flabby. My muscles already battle with diet and trying to keep this thyroid in control, but the WORSE thing I could do is NOT use my muscles.
Of course when you are working nonstop, you dont realize this and in fact, because your brain is working so hard, the physical almost appears that it is moving along with your head. But it is not.
No, sending my husband to do all the chores while I worked, was not a smart thing. Sure he had no jobs, but maybe doing our work together could have made a difference in us both.

Those that know me, understand that I am not lazy. I have helped lay carpet, build decks and done many tasks alongside men with no problem.
And I think my body actually needs some hard labor like that once in awhile.

I use to member at Curves. They were so good to me there, but when work is not flowing, it is hard to commit to $30+ per month for excercise when there surely must be soemthing else that can be done.
So I quit a year ago when I waitressed.
But after that job, I never went back.

And the effect show. And I know better. That is the part that bugs me most. I could have done better in this area.

Most of you know that in 2006, I was diagnosed with 1b2 stage cervical cancer after dropping 50 pounds, working out at just seemed to be really getting good for me when the dx came.
And it was probably a miracle that the cancer was even found because I dont have health insurance, therefore dont usually have money for doctor visits.

I found out that a local retired nurse midwife that was also on the board of our health food co op was doing pap smears for other local midwives for a reasonable fee.

That gave me an open door to not only see her and feel safe, but also to take my daughter for her first exam.
She had to give me the news after some very tell tale signs in her office. I was devastated.
After another exam with a gynecologist, I was sent to a gynecologist oncologist and from there, after much research and praying I had radical surgery asking for my ovaries to remain so that I may continue producing some hormones and maintain some health benefit at age 40.
I recovered fairly well, save the fact that my poor bladder just gave up for a couple weeks. Then the pathology came that cancer was invasing the lymph vascular space so radiation would be required. That was devastating. The ovaries were going to be toast. But we got through that part ok. And the health care team all around have been wonderful and never condmening to any of my natural ideas.
But for me that was a huge change that made life very different.

For one, you worry about recurrance. There is nothing left really to be done except all the innards removed.
Yet, all the treatment recieved gave me a really good chance of no recurrance.

But what I do have is scar tissue physical changes and I was slammed into menopause at age 40.
I am almost 42 now and the effect of treatment over the past couple years have been noticed.
(all of this story is part of the lessons..I promise)

One of the things that happens as we age, and especially menopausal women is we lose tone in our muscles. Much because of hormones, gravity, time. Unless we are working these muscles and moving, they will become dormant and stiff and lifeless.
You probably would not imagine that, especially if you are young.

But since the symptoms of menopause are not usually discussed until you are about there, I feel it disserves our women because we do not have proper time to prepare.

For example bone building ends in your 30's and one herbalist actually stated in 20's.
Therefore, the bones we need for life, are built in our active years and yet that is the time we feel invincible and dont care for ourselves nor thinking of our future health.
Maybe awareness will help so I do share these things so that women can examine their lives, and read books if they are inclined to learn about the changes to come so they are prepared.

Movement, especially weight bearing excercise is essential to keeping muscles strong and to maintain and not lose the bone that has been built.

So, imagine sitting fairly idle for 4 months. Yes working, but not moving except to package orders, make soap, and teas. That is not enough.

Even my husband was tending to the household chores so that I could keep working. I probably vacuumed a couple times in the entire winter because my husband did the housework too.

So lesson number 3 is movement. Stretching, yoga, walk, tai chi,dance, work, something! For women, our modern day housework may not be enough because of our conveniences we dont use our muscles for the day to day activities very much.

We dont even cut our veggies anymore, but have fancy processors for them. Bread machines. And of course washer and dryers. Thank goodness for some conveniences indeed, but do not allow them to make you dry up. Allow them to benefit you and you get excercise somewhere else:)

And dont forget kegels. Heavens, things travel south quickly after menopause especially if you have had children.
If you would like to keep your vagina and or uterus inside your body, keep your bladder toned, and prevent atrophy of the pelvic muscles in menopause, work on this now and remember to do them often. It could save you embarrasing problems later in life.

April plants on my land

Certainly this is not all, but this is what I am using, have identified, need to identify or most abundant. It seems each day brings more growth. It is a joy to see before your eyes, the energy of life coming forth.
I will share a few pics now and then in order to not overwhelm, yet if you need help ID ing a plant in your yard, maybe the pics I share will help. And if you know one that I cannot find in my books, please let me know:)

Here are todays plants

Chickweed Stellaria media

Galium aparine

Cleavers again

Comfrey Symphytum officinale

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Jesse Wolf Hardin

With permission I share this interview that came through the Anima Blog.

Anima....I leave open an opportunity in my life, that if I should go this year, so shall it be.
A place in the wilderness of New Mexico...those that know me know that alone makes me swoon. Yet Kiva Rose and I have become better acquainted and as I have become closer to her, I feel too I have become closer to Loba, Jesse and Rhiannon, Kiva's wee one.
I have posted here before the events of the summer that will be happening this year, but I will copy it here again with their own words on thier blog.

We invite and welcome your participation in any of the following workshops and gatherings held at Anima’s river canyon, an ancient place of power deep in the mountains of the enchanted Southwest…

5 hrs. N.E. of the Tucson airport, or 4.5 hrs. S.W. of Albuquerque.
And please copy and forward this invite to your friends!

Anima Wilderness Learning Center & Medicine Woman Tradition
(by donation)

May 22-27: The Wild Women’s Gathering
A six day event for women only, with a focus on primitive camping, interaction with the natural world and personal rewilding: learning to trust our senses, instincts and needs – and to heed our callings and live our dreams regardless of constraints, norms, fears and habits.

June 12-17: The Woman Spirit Gathering
Another six day women’s event, a memory-making celebration of the spirit of womanhood, dedicated to self nourishment, sisterly sharing and sweet savoring – with inspiring teaching circles, wonderful outdoor feasts, swimming, singing and riverside dancing!

July 3-6: The Shaman’s Path Intensive
For men as well as women, a four day long workshop imparting insights and techniques for heightening awareness, connecting with inspirited nature, exploring alternate realities, instigating ecstatic states, developing our powers to affect events, and defining and fulfilling our individual most-meaningful purpose.

Aug 1-6: The Medicine Woman Gathering
Six days of presentations and discussions, plant walks and medicine making – for women who feel called to a healer’s life of intense awareness and personal responsibility. The Medicine Woman Tradition defines healing as contributing to wholeness and balance… of our selves, of others, and of the living world we are a part of.

Aug 29 -Sep 1: The Wild Foods Weekend
Four days of learning to identify, gather, preserve and deliciously prepare a wide number of the wild native foods of the mountainous West and Southwest – increasing observation skills, self confidence and our ability to survive, while helping us connect deeper to the natural world and cycles of life that we are each a natural part of.

For more information, or for Registration Forms that you can download, please go to the Anima Events page at:

Anima Center also offers Retreats with meals in riverside cabins, Vision Quests, personal Counsel, resident Internships and Apprenticeships, and empowering Correspondence Courses including the Way Of Heart, Shaman and Medicine Woman paths. There is no set charge for any of the various opportunities, services, courses and events… only a suggested, sliding scale donation.

Now onto Jesse-
Feel free to copy and share the following new interview with Wolf by Karin Casey, conducted in March 2008)

Casey: Over the years your books and articles have inspired readers with pieces on everything from sense of place to the power of the feminine, and from shamanism for the 21st Century to alternative healing. I notice that your words all seem to evoke something more real and intimately experienced, and the concepts you teach seem to all call to be experienced, manifest and acted on. When you describe something as common as water, it is in a way that inspires us to make it more real in our lives.

Hardin (smiling): Ahhhhh… to really taste it next time we have a cup as it passes the tongue and cools the throat, to intensely notice the heat and patter of the next shower rather than thinking only about the day ahead, to tune in to the patterns of local weather as the air thickens with moisture or thins and leaves the ground and plants wishing for more, and thus to act to conserve it out of a personal knowing and whole-body connection. Language can distract, numb and beguile, such as in the case of a despot’s rewriting of history, a television pundit’s spin, superficial conversation, shallow entertainment, and even the often self critical thoughts and monotonous prattle of our minds. But language can just as well be honest and meaning-full, relevant and timely, not only educating and evoking but eliciting and compelling.

Casey: I like your concept of words and ideas as “opportunities to powerfully change our lives, and to deliberately affect the world in our own personal and unique ways.”

Hardin: I love the literal “play” of words, but not as a substitute or stand-in for whole-being engagement and purposeful action. Ideally an article I write on food results in readers paying more attention to the integrity of the ingredients and the integrative and revealing process of cooking as well as of our meals’ oft neglected pleasures. The so-called silence between words is so alive with information-packed sounds, soul stirring music and telltale smells, visual and signals and satisfying smells, that language may best be reserved for conveying what matters most. This could be a lengthy conversation about how to remedy a problem, a well crafted poem that awakens us to pain or beauty… or a simple “Yum!” expertly expressing our delight in the food we’re eating, the inexplicably sweet scent of a baby’s head, or the sensation of a lover’s fingers on our neck.

Casey: You’re certainly someone who has “made it real,” starting with selling the engine out of your only vehicle and school-bus home in order to make the down payment on the Animá Center property some three decades ago. I’m fascinated by the restoring of a river canyon ecosystem in the mountainous Southwest, as well as your time turning it into a real wilderness learning center, but I’m even more excited that you’ve organized your insights and tools into online correspondence courses that seem to be affecting people around the world.

Hardin: It became clear shortly after arrival here that the insights arising through my work – and through this revealing place in particular – were meant to be shared with others… especially those of mixed ancestry, facing the complex challenges of current times. I did my best to serve that intention through articles and books, until finally compiling the understandings, stories, and practical and perceptual tools into a cohesive and accessible practice.

Casey: Your teachings are known as Animá (pronounced ani-mah). Were you thinking of Jung’s definition of the word, as the feminine aspect, or Freud’s associating it with the subconscious?

Hardin: The lower case “anima” comes from the Latin, and meant mind and soul inseparable. It speaks to both the condition of wholeness, and the vital force animating all things. You might think of it as life’s will to live… and the collective knowings of all life throughout time, housed in a system of interactions and interspecies, intergenerational relationships… much like human memories, which are recorded not in any one static place, but in the endlessly repeated firing codes of innumerable signaling synapses.

Casey: The practice of Animá, then, is being a conscious participant in all that.

Hardin: It’s being ever more conscious and courageous participants in the processes of sensitive being and responsive doing, willing and responsible co-creators of our realities and our world. Animá is the practice of awakening and enlivening, of healing and creating, of giving to others and giving back to the earth, of passionately applying ourselves to a meaningful purpose or cause while savoring and celebrating every detail and flavor, implication and lesson, reward and blessing. The “what” and “how” will be different for each person. Instead of telling people what to do, Animá provides tools for deep self exploration and broad interconnection, leaving it to each person to grow and actualize their most authentic selves, leaving them with the burden of choice, the instructive consequence, the benefits and the credit.

Casey: Your Correspondence Courses are divided into Path of Heart, Medicine Woman and Shaman paths.

Hardin: The Path Of Heart is built with self exploration, self-nourishment/self-love and finding one’s purpose at its core. The Shaman Path is for anyone wanting to intensely develop their awareness and other abilities, vision and wisdom, purpose and power. The Medicine Woman Paths are similar in intensity and goal to the Shaman Path, only with an emphasis on healing and medicinal herbs.

Casey: You and your partners also host a number of small wilderness based events there in New Mexico, including Medicine Woman gatherings in June and August, and a Shaman Path intensive over the July 4th weekend. Much of what you teach, in fact, draws from the lessons in nature. How important is it that in today’s world?

Hardin: Everyone could benefit from more time outside, apart from human construction and clatter, stimulated and informed, soothed by its wild balm. It places us in the context of those elements and forces that formed and birthed us, and that plead and prompt us in our dreams. It’s not just a more peaceful setting, but a glimpse of our larger corporal as well as energetic selves, the evolving whole of which we are each an inseparable extension, agent and part. We can contact that larger being and knowing through trips to wilderness sanctuaries and ancient “places of power” like the Animá Center, through time in nearby state lands and parks, but also by close attention to and interaction with a backyard garden, a personable house plant or visiting songbird on the sill.

Casey: So how does the practice of Animá help those of us who spend most of every month working and tending to families in the city?

Hardin: Animá principles and qualities like self knowledge, heightened awareness, discernment, intuition, empowerment and commitment are as important to an urban lifestyle, as to any other. Maybe more so. Whether in a city or out in the country, the quest for each aware being is to be a student to experience and instinct. To plumb the depths of our authentic selves with all the attendant abilities, challenges, needs and desires. To utilize our gifts in service to self, others, and earth… to justice, truth and beauty. To make every moment a decisive moment, and act accordingly. To trust our visions and live our dreams. To find and fulfill our most meaningful purpose. To taste every bite of food, cry and laugh freely, run barefoot through the wet grass, and let no butterfly go by unnoticed.

Casey: And we thank you for that!


Jesse Wolf Hardin is the author of over 500 published articles and 5 books including Gaia Eros (‘04), with multiple entries in The Encyclopedia Of Nature & Religion (‘05). His work has been praised for its artful blending of ecological awareness, personalized spirituality and self-growth, by luminaries as diverse as Gary Snyder, Edward Abbey, the Buddhist Joanna Macy, and the renowned musician Paul Winter. According to the author Terry Tempest Williams it is “only through the power, strength, integrity, and courage of people such as Hardin that our society will be able to change its direction.” His vision is luminous, an intimate yet comprehensive view of life in all its forms and interactions. The Animá practices that he and his partners teach, invites ecstasy and contentment as much as it encourages responsibility, meaningful purpose and action. For information on their courses, go to A complete history of the Animá Center has been posted at

-Karin Casey, March 2008

Salad Eggs

Here is a variation of Deviled Eggs we made using the guidelines in this recipe-And if I may add, I do brush Olivia's hair...:) But often when we do these videos it is on the fly after we work or play hard. So what you get here is the real deal...and sometimes...well...we have bad hair:)

This comes again from Kalyn's site

Chipotle-Lime Deviled Eggs
(Makes 12 deviled egg halves, can easily be doubled. Recipe created by Kalyn.)

6 eggs (preferably about a week old)
2 T mayo
2 T fat-free plain yogurt (I used my favorite Greek Yogurt)
2 T fresh lime juice
1 T yellow mustard (not Dijon)
1/4 tsp. ground Chipotle chile powder (I used Penzeys. Use more or less to taste. Could substitute hot paprika for a slightly different taste.)
1/2 tsp. salt (I used Vege-Sal.)
2 green onions, green part only, finely chopped

First, make perfect hard-boiled eggs. Let eggs cool, then peel and cut in half crosswise. While eggs are cooling, slice green onions, and finely chop with chef's knife. When eggs are quite cool, carefully remove yolks and put into small bowl. Mash yolks well with a fork.

Mix together lime juice and Chipotle chile powder. (If you don't do this, you'll have large flecks of chile powder in the deviled yolk mixture. The chile powder won't dissolve completely, but adding it to the lime juice does make it blend in better.) Add lime-Chipotle mixture to mashed yolks, then stir in mayo, mustard, plain yogurt, salt, and half the chopped green onions. Taste for seasoning to see if you want more mustard, Chipotle chile powder, or salt. Stir until mixture is well combined.

Arrange eggs white halves on serving plate. Use a rubber scraper to scoop yolk mixture into a small plastic bag. Cut a small piece off one corner of the bag and squeeze from the top to force the yolk mixture out the hole, into the egg halves. (This can also be done with a spoon or a cake decorating tool.) When all egg white shells are filled with deviled yolk mixture, sprinkle with remaining chopped green onions. Serve immediately.

They didn't last long. The kids did a great job!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Mexislaw, Quinoa Salad, Salmon Terrine

Mexi Slaw recipe from Kalyns Kitchen
4 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
(You can use all green or all red cabbage.)
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (or more)
4 T mayo
3 T fresh lime juice (more or less to taste)
hot sauce to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp. green Tabasco sauce)
salt to taste (I used Vege-Sal)

Thinly slice cabbage, using a mandoline or food processor if desired. Slice green onions, and wash, dry and chop cilantro. (I use a Mini salad spinner to wash herbs and spin them dry.) Combine cabbage, green onions and cilantro in large salad bowl.

In small bowl, wisk together, mayo, lime juice, and hot sauce. (You may want to start with less than the full amount of lime juice and hot sauce and keep adding until you have the desired blend of sour/hot flavor.)

Use a wooden spoon to mix dressing into cabbage mixture. Season to taste with salt and serve immediately, or chill for a few hours.

This salad will keep well overnight in the refrigerator, but the lime juice will cause the red cabbage to bleed color and turn the salad slightly pink. If you're making extra you might want to use all green cabbage, although I didn't mind the pink color at all when I ate the leftovers!

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
1 cup quinoa, rinsed

2 cups water

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 cup chopped scallions

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup cucumber, chopped

1/2 cup radish, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped

2 tablespoons coriander / cilantro, chopped

1 cup finely chopped parsley

1 small bunch watercress, chopped

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup black olives, pitted

salt and pepper, freshly ground to taste

1. Bring quinoa and water to boil, cover and simmer on a low heat for 20 mins. Let quinoa cool to room temperature, then transfer to a serving bowl.

2. Mix the garlic and scallions thoroughly with the quinoa and add the remaining chopped herbs and vegetables. Stir in the lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Finally, mix in the feta cheese and olives and season with freshly ground salt and pepper.

3. Set aside for at least 30 mins before serving to allow the flavours to develop and blend.

Serves 4

Per serving - 384 calories, 22g fat of which 5.2% saturated, 39g carbohydrates, 11g protein, 6g fibre, 198 mg calcium, 7mg iron and 388mg sodium

I dont have my recipe because ONCE AGAIN I left my recipes papers in French cooking class.
Karen came up with such a delightful menu~
Salmon & sweet pea terrine served with a court bouillion reduction sauce
Sautéed asparagus with brown rice
with leeks & braised red cabbage with red wine
Carrot & almond cake

This picture is of the Terrine. I love the classes and time with Karen.

Excellent Chickweed Vinegar Recipe

Our sweet Jack (rabbit) loves to cruise around the yard and nibble. Trying to keep him out of my chickweed patch ins't easy. He is like a dog, he sees me there and he comes running.

Recently, an woman I have come to know online came through the area and paid us a visit with her family. Youmay have seen pictures from earlier in the month.

Her name is Kathy Jo, and I was blessed to have her make her famous salad dressing for me. She knows I love good clean food.

So I used her recipe with what I have here and I gotta tell ya, this is the way to use our herbal vinegars! So yum

Basically the recipe is divided into thirds.
1/3 salty ( any of these- Shoyu, tamari, soy, braggs)

1/3 oil (any of these- ex olive, expeller pressed safflower, tahini)

1/3 sour THIS IS WHERE HERBAL VINEGAR COMES IN HANDY or lemon juice, balsamic, etc...

2 TBSP sweet (any of these works maple syrup, agave nectar, jelly or jam)

and optional seasonings like garlic cloves, ginger, other herbs.

So here is what I am doing with my chickweed vinegar

I get 2 pint jar and eyeball the thirds.

I use 1/3 tamari because I have that right now. Shoyu would probably be my choice
1/3 Sicilian extra virgin olive oil that has such a delightful flavor
1/3 chickweed vinegar
3 cloves garlic gone through the press
and that is all!
You dont need much else.

I did vary it this week by adding some tahini and mixing it in one salad worth and I made some spring rolls and the kids used what was left as a dipping sauce.

Last week I marinated meat in it.

Thank you KJ for something I see I will be using ALOT!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Lessons from my life part 2

So as I shared in part 1, I tend to be solitary. I dont mind being alone. Possibly because I have so many children.
I enjoy quiet and feel completely nervewracked in social situations of magnitude. I want to literally crawl under a rock.

So spending an entire season, basically out of touch with the people around me, and just focused on my computer, caused not only an out of touch feeling, but depression.

The season is cold and dark, no friends around to light your way, to bring a smile or share a meal. Nothin.

So I got a small taste of seasonal depression this year, but of course did not notice it until after the situation was out of control.
I sent my husband to do everything that needed done, whether a grocery run or any outdoor chore, because he was out of work and I needed to work. That is ok, but that lead to lesson number 3:)

Now let me say too that I am active in online communities and they are great. Amitymama, for example is my home online for about 8 or 9 years now.
It is part of my life, and the mama's are part of my life. So there is some socializing, however it does nor replace the physical act of grooming, picking out your clothing, stepping outdoors and breathing the air,and going off to see another human face to face.
That need still is present, even if you spend all day visiting at an online community.

So the lessons today I bring you is that we all are community. When you visit your grocer, the post office, a friend, ar paying the power bill, these contacts are more important than we realize. Make their day by smiling at them and lightening their load.
We all have burdens and a happy heart if often the best strength humans need to get through it.

This picture is a social get together this month at my dear friend Joy's. We had an out of town friend come in and we all hung out at Joys community called Terra Studios This is Rowan, Joys dd in a hobbit cave that was created out there. Isn't it neat

Lessons from my life...part 1

I had one of those health battles that not only kicks your ass but causes you to contemplate deeper of who you are what you want to be. Change. In attitude and habits.
It felt like one of those times just tipping the underworld, much like childbirth when you feel you cannot go on and that you will be swallowed up by this experience.
Then the strength comes and you muster up the power to get through it.

This was one of those times.

Now I know that is some healing practice, shamans and village doctors did experience these things for others. I am not certain that is what happened, but I was broadsided by something I never saw coming! Oh so grateful for the little weeds to aid me along.

It all started with a stressful winter. Approximately 4 months of work, like mad, computer on day and night. Survival it was, and the core of the issue, I feel.
Ray did not have much work so I had to bear the load.
That is ok...we are partners and a team. But let me tell you, it took all day every day to make it happen for our family.

I am not opposed to hard work. I am not opposed to computers (obviously) but there comes a time when you pull away for even a hint of enjoyment for yourself, a time to say NO WORK. I am not always good at that, in addition to the fact that I am very solitary and introverted.

I will share this story in parts because the messages that came to me were so clear. In fact, I know that they would be easy to miss in a very long story, so today, this is the part and the lesson I learned first.

Now I know that most people think of a thrown back forced awkward position, but really, just think of holding your body up and not compacting your organs.
How do you sit in front of the computer?

If you are anything like me, you may be sitting on your legs, which feels secure, but may disrupt circulation. Along with a slouchy body. Curled over the keyboard looking intently at a computer you get what I am saying here?

Health is about taking care of everything we can. So your lesson today, from the mistakes of my own life, is good posture.

And just for fun, I am adding a pic of my grandbaby who was over visiting a couple days ago:)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Welcome to Arkansas Kathy Jo and family

Welp, what can I say? we tried to cram stuff into a few hours. It was a great time for everyone I think....KJ and I maybe had a wee bit to much shiraz.

But talk about good eats....Garbanzo beef soup with fresh cilantro from Patrice and wild greens from the Ozark hills, Popcorn she made-yum! Salad from our grocery and her homeade dressing (another huge yum) and they bought a pizza and I made a little pizza as well as Mac and cheese from the health food store for the kiddos.
The guys went fishing and the kids and us went to the creek

Here are some pictures of our walk:) Tommarrow we meet at Joys before they journey back home.