11.03.2018

Herb Fairies: Lemon Balm

Shelbyville-Bedford County Public Library and LearningHerbs
Herbalism is one of many hobbies that I'm passionate about. I've always preferred the outdoors, but as I've gotten older, my imagination that used to conjure fairies and gnomes (and sometimes still does) has learned that personifying plants may not be too far-fetched. I love to watch documentaries, and after checking out titles such as David Attenborough's The Private Life of Plants and Nature: What Plants Talk About from my local library, I became enchanted by the life around us that is often overlooked. With increasing concerns over the food we put in our bodies and the growing rate of poverty, I decided to begin harvesting my own food and medicines (within reason). 

In addition to this program, I have also developed a Seed Library to encourage a more sustainable community. So far, the response has been positive and I have received an increasing number of participants in the exchange. 

Herb Fairies came about during some research I was doing. The family-owned company is called LearningHerbs and they developed this amazing learning system with Herbalists Kristine Brown and Rosalee de la Foret for kids to learn about safely foraging plants they likely come across every day. There is a book series that pairs with the curriculum to make the lessons entertaining and are delivered to you in various formats, including audiobook, ebook, and print (when offered). Materials include, crafts, recipes (food and medicinal), materia medica, songs, activities, journals, calendars, and more. The information is so rich, I can only hope to skim the surface in one hour. 

To avoid feeling overwhelmed, I focus on four of the five senses. How may kids learn about this plant through touch, smell, taste, and sight? It is through our senses we create memories, and through this method I have had several parents tell me how excited their children get when they start identifying the plants in their yards. 

It is important to note that teaching herbalism is NOT giving medical advice. It is not to encourage families to avoid seeking medical attention when needed. There is a note that comes in the kit that should be distributed to parents about the safety of proper identification and consumption of plants. You may want to produce a contract for parents to sign. Before every class I make every child raise their right hand and promise they will not eat any plants without asking an adult first. 

One last thing: before distributing materials, please be sure to give credit where credit is due. I always tell parents how they can go more in depth by purchasing the system for themselves, and be sure to follow copyright laws when handing out resources. Libraries are permitted to circulate the Herbal Roots Zine as part of the collection, and we have subscribed to the zine for easy access and expansion beyond the 13 original plants presented in the books. To aid in memorizing plants and their uses even further, I created flash cards (all artwork is property of LearningHerbs) that I hand out for each plant.


Each book takes less than 30 minutes to read and will help children understand how each plant may be applicable in real-life situations. Per LearningHerbs.com:


Each of the 13 Herb Fairies books has a story of its own, but they’re all connected to tell the much bigger story of a time when the plant magic was fading from the world. When four young friends discover an herb fairy at the park, they are drawn into a healing adventure beyond their wildest dreams. 
The Old Man of the Forest has cast a terrible spell, locking up much of the plant magic and draining the magic from the world. The Herb Fairies turn to the children for help, and they all discover that only by working together and healing the magic keepers from all of the different magical races can the magic be fully restored."

A key element in the storyline is the discovery of a creature's name through riddles that surface each time an ailment is healed. The name discovered in the first book is Play. I like talking about the names and why they are important. It's a simple way of adding a short lesson on character.

USING YOUR SENSES


My neighbor, who was a friend of mine before I moved into my house, is also a forager and we spend a lot of afternoons walking around our yards identifying and taste-testing plants. The mint family is a fun one to study because there are just so many members in the mint family! Between the two of us, my neighbor and I were able to come up with a few different types of mint so my kids could compare them to lemon balm.

We began by smelling the plant to see if it had any kind of aromatics. Lemon balm is a good one for this because you can compare the scent with peppermint, spearmint, perilla, etc. The "lemon" in lemon balm is what sets it apart from the rest.

TASTING - Lemon Balm Tea
Learning Herbs Recipes - Lemon Balm


As kids arrived at their seats, they had a cup of lemon balm tea I had brewed at home with fresh lemon balm leaves, dried rose hips, lavender (the recipe calls for oat straw, but I did not have any), and honey. I also froze lemon balm leaves in ice cubes to drop in. Some kids enjoyed it, others didn't.  The drink itself is very refreshing and calming while cooling the body. Great for Summer! Here's how to make it (original recipe from Learning Herbs Recipes - Lemon Balm)

Ingredients: 
2 Loosely packed cups of chopped fresh lemon balm leaves
OR
4 TBS of dried lemon balm leaves
1/2C dried oatstraw
1/4C dried rose hips
Hot water
Honey
Half gallon jar (or other container)

Add herbs to a half gallon jar. Fill with hot water and let steep for 20 minutes.

Strain off leaves and add honey to taste.

CRAFTY MEDICINE - Lemon Balm Lip Balm
Taken from Herbal Roots Zine: Volume 1 Issue 9


This time, our craft and medicine came together in the form of a lip balm. This lip balm is great for cold sores, and of course, general moisture. The first part of the recipe you will want to do at home since I'm assuming you won't have an extra 2 hours for your program to allow the lemon balm to infuse into your oil/shea butter mix

And although it's a last resort, if you need to use a microwave to assist you in melting things down in a timely manner, it isn't the end of the world. If you do not have one nearby, you may want to melt things down before your program and do this part at the beginning.

Materials:
1/2C Lemon balm leaves
1oz almond or jojoba or mix
1oz Shea butter
1oz beeswax
1/4tsp Honey
1/8tsp Vitamin E
Lemon, rosemary, or lavender essential oil
12-24 Lip balm containers
Double boiler

In a double boiler, combine lemon balm, almond/jojoba, and shea butter. Gently heat for about 2 hours to infuse lemon balm in oil. Do not let the oil boil! Strain out the lemon balm leaves and return the oil mixture to the double boiler.

Add beeswax and let melt. Add honey, vitamin E oil, and 10 drops of essential oil of choice and stir well. Pour into containers and allow to cool.

Don't forget your labels (a simple "Lemon Balm Lip Balm" will do)!

PLAY


To revisit our keyword for this lesson's book, Play, I brought out a game for us to play at the end. This was just an extra I got free with a book order; you could use anything you wanted. 

If you've ever played "Heads Up!" made famous by Ellen DeGeneres, this is a very simplified version. One kid holds a card up to their head, not knowing what is on it, and has to ask questions until they guess what is on the card. Kids had a lot of fun ending the program this way!

RECEPTION: In terms of recipes, lemon balm is a very easy herb that pairs with many things. In terms of crafts, I struggled with this one and that's why I combined the craft and medicine into the lip balm. Lip balm isn't very showy as it is aromatic, so you could make cards like you did with plantain or just make another recipe. 

10.31.2018

Herb Fairies: Plantain

Shelbyville-Bedford County Public Library and LearningHerbs
Herbalism is one of many hobbies that I'm passionate about. I've always preferred the outdoors, but as I've gotten older, my imagination that used to conjure fairies and gnomes (and sometimes still does) has learned that personifying plants may not be too far-fetched. I love to watch documentaries, and after checking out titles such as David Attenborough's The Private Life of Plants and Nature: What Plants Talk About from my local library, I became enchanted by the life around us that is often overlooked. With increasing concerns over the food we put in our bodies and the growing rate of poverty, I decided to begin harvesting my own food and medicines (within reason). 

In addition to this program, I have also developed a Seed Library to encourage a more sustainable community. So far, the response has been positive and I have received an increasing number of participants in the exchange. 

Herb Fairies came about during some research I was doing. The family-owned company is called LearningHerbs and they developed this amazing learning system with Herbalists Kristine Brown and Rosalee de la Foret for kids to learn about safely foraging plants they likely come across every day. There is a book series that pairs with the curriculum to make the lessons entertaining and are delivered to you in various formats, including audiobook, ebook, and print (when offered). Materials include, crafts, recipes (food and medicinal), materia medica, songs, activities, journals, calendars, and more. The information is so rich, I can only hope to skim the surface in one hour. 

To avoid feeling overwhelmed, I focus on four of the five senses. How may kids learn about this plant through touch, smell, taste, and sight? It is through our senses we create memories, and through this method I have had several parents tell me how excited their children get when they start identifying the plants in their yards. 

It is important to note that teaching herbalism is NOT giving medical advice. It is not to encourage families to avoid seeking medical attention when needed. There is a note that comes in the kit that should be distributed to parents about the safety of proper identification and consumption of plants. You may want to produce a contract for parents to sign. Before every class I make every child raise their right hand and promise they will not eat any plants without asking an adult first. 

One last thing: before distributing materials, please be sure to give credit where credit is due. I always tell parents how they can go more in depth by purchasing the system for themselves, and be sure to follow copyright laws when handing out resources. Libraries are permitted to circulate the Herbal Roots Zine as part of the collection, and we have subscribed to the zine for easy access and expansion beyond the 13 original plants presented in the books. To aid in memorizing plants and their uses even further, I created flash cards (all artwork is property of LearningHerbs) that I hand out for each plant.


Each book takes less than 30 minutes to read and will help children understand how each plant may be applicable in real-life situations. Per LearningHerbs.com:


Each of the 13 Herb Fairies books has a story of its own, but they’re all connected to tell the much bigger story of a time when the plant magic was fading from the world. When four young friends discover an herb fairy at the park, they are drawn into a healing adventure beyond their wildest dreams. 
The Old Man of the Forest has cast a terrible spell, locking up much of the plant magic and draining the magic from the world. The Herb Fairies turn to the children for help, and they all discover that only by working together and healing the magic keepers from all of the different magical races can the magic be fully restored."

A key element in the storyline is the discovery of a creature's name through riddles that surface each time an ailment is healed. The name discovered in the first book is Inspiration. I like talking about the names and why they are important. It's a simple way of adding a short lesson on character.


For Inspiration we did a short acronym activity where I provided a piece of paper that had "INSPIRATION" typed out on the side in colorful letters, and kids wrote something that inspired them that began with each letter. You may need to give them a few ideas and simplify the term a bit.

USING YOUR SENSES

No, we are not talking about the small banana plantain. Broadleaf Plantain is very easy to find almost all year and is likely a "weed" you see all the time. It tends to hang out where there's a lot of traffic (walking, parking, etc.). It's very hardy and can is a highly medicinal plant that can be used in many ways. With the help of Herbal Roots Zine: Volume 1 Issue 5 we worked through how to identify the Plantago Major species of plantain. The Zines have worksheets and puzzles that I print off for plant identification and exercises. Going through the sheets takes a bit of time, so the more you can allow kids to connect what the paper says to the actual plant, the better. However, you may not always be able to get the fresh herb and that is perfectly okay.

We began by smelling the plant to see if it had any kind of aromatics. Some plants are more obvious than others (mint, lavender, chamomile, etc.) and at times you can use the sense of smell to determine if you're dealing with a look-alike or not. Plantain is not a plant that has a strong, distinctive scent.

TASTING - Plantain, Orange, and Mint Butter
Taken from Herb Fairies Recipes - Plantain

I did not take a picture of this, but each child had a small piece of bread at their seat and some pre-made plantain, orange, and mint butter. Very much like the violet oil, I also simulated how I made the butter in front of everyone, but this time I let them put the ingredients in themselves.

We did not eat the butter we made together for sanitary reasons, but they were still able to taste the mixture I made at home. Be sure to disclose ingredients in any food you prepare in case anyone has allergies.

Above I've included the recipe from the plantain booklet in the kit in case you'd like to give this one a try. After this, we tried the plantain leaves by themselves. As usual, some kids loved it and others didn't care for it by itself.

CRAFT - Greeting Card
Taken from Herbal Roots Zine: Volume 1 Issue 5

Materials:
Plantain leaves
White or pastel tissue paper
Crayons and/or colored pencils
Scissors
Paper or cardstock cut and folded to make cards
Stickers or extra pieces of paper to decorate
Glue stick

I slacked on getting photos from this class, so I hope you can bear with me.
Plantain doesn't seem like a very pretty plant to make a card out of, but you can still get creative and make it look nice.

Place the leaves bottom side up under the tissue paper and rub over the top gently with a crayon or colored pencil.

Cut the leave shapes out and glue them on the front of the cards. Underneath, write the Latin name of the plant (Plantago Major). Then decorate or write on the inside to give to someone or keep.

MEDICINE - Plantain Infusion
Taken from Herbal Roots Zine: Volume 1 Issue 5

Materials:

1/2 Cup Fresh Plantain Leaved (1/4 Cup Dried)
Water
Electric Tea Kettle
Quart jar w/lid (I use various sizes of these glass teapots instead)
Ladle or Serving Spoon
Strainer
Hot pad

This class was I decided to introduce kids to infusions. If you've ever made tea, then you've practically made an infusion. Making an herbal infusion is very nourishing and allows us to extract vitamins and minerals that aren't usually taken from teas or extracts. It works from the inside out and pairs well for an ailment that is also being treated from the outside with, say, a poultice. Infusions are a good addition to anyone's daily diet and the recommended amount for kids to drink is 2-4 cups a day (3-4 cups a day for adults). 

You may make the infusion ahead of time since it takes 6-8 hours to steep and have them drink it during the class, and/or demonstrate in front of everyone and give them some to take home.

Fill your tea kettle with enough water to fill your quart jar. Bring it to a boil.

While it is heating up, place the plantain leaves in the bottom of the jar. Place a ladle or serving spoon in the jar (this helps to keep it from breaking).

Once the water has come to a boil, pour it into the jar.

Cover the top except for the space held by the ladle. Once it cools enough, remove the ladle and screw the lit on completely.

Let the infusion steep for 6-8 hours. Strain off the leaves and compost them if able.

Your infusion can be drank hot or cold and will last for 2 days. Keep refrigerated.

It's always important to label your creations, so on our labels we wrote what we put in our infusion (Fresh Plantain) and the date.

RECEPTION: Plantain is one of the most unsung heroes of health I know of. Before I knew what it was capable of, I also only saw it as a pesky weed that would pop up in the most random places. It's another one of those you don't realize how much you see it until you begin paying attention to it. Watch your families come back and tell you how much they see plantain after attending your program!


10.25.2018

World Travelers: Italy

World Travelers: Italy
Grades K-5

My goal with this series is to bridge cultural gaps in children's literacy. I also learn about the countries in the process, and even the parents get involved with asking questions. Sometimes I bring in a special guest or two that has lived or visited that specific country and they tell about their experiences and share items from there. The more this program develops, the better it gets!

CRAFTS

PPTs available upon request.
Each child that attends gets a passport. I created a template to save ink, then filled in the space with the airplane and the quote with stamps. The inside pages are from this template, and each time a child comes to the program, they get a special stamp on the inside. 


MUSIC
I found this snazzy playlist of traditional Italian music on YouTube. It played in the background during the program.

OPENER
I've began showing a PowerPoint presentation at the very beginning. I find this visual to be much more helpful in connecting images and new information. My assistant and I also dress up in traditional clothing to show the types of fashion that were popular through time and classes. After this particular country, I decided it was time to bring the snood back for bad hair days!




SCAVENGER HUNT
Each child received a page of questions and had to find the answers hidden around the library. Here are some random facts I used:
  1. Italy, also known as Repubblica Italiana (Italian Republic) or Italia, also has been nicknamed  'Bel Paese' which means “beautiful country.”
  2. While the official language is Italian, many areas can also speak German, French and Ladin (a dialect mainly spoken in the Dolomite Mountains in Northern Italy), which sounds closer to Romansh of Switzerland than Italian. 
  3. The colors of Italy’s flag represent these virtues: hope (green), faith (white), and charity (red).
  4. The name Italy comes from the word italia, meaning “calf land,” maybe this was because the bull was a symbol of the Southern Italian tribes.
  5. Italy's first societies emerged around 1200 B.C. Around 800 B.C. Greeks settled in the south and Etruscans arose in central Italy.  
  6. Family is very important in Italy and the Italians celebrate loads of holidays. They all get together and eat large meals. The two most important holidays are Christmas and Ferragosto, on 15th August, when everyone heads to the beach
  7. Italy is known for its scientists as it is for its artists. Leonardo da Vinci was the first to prove the world is round and not flat.  Alessandro Volta was the pioneer who did studies in electricity, hence the name 'Volt' describing a unit of electricity.
  8. Rome was the capital of the Roman Empire, which started in 753 B.C, spreading from Europe to northern Africa, and lasted until 476 A.D., for over 1200 years!
  9. Italy has many earthquakes and volcanoes due to the conflict between the Eurasian and the African tectonic plates. The volcanoes Etna and Vesuvius are a constant danger to humans due to their closeness to big cities.
  10. Italy was the birthplace of the Renaissance, which was a period of great cultural achievements in poetry, painting and architecture. Famous artists such as Michelangelo, Raphael, Donatello, and Leonardo Da Vinci were part of the Renaissance.
ACTIVITY STATIONS
Each station has a description of the history and uniqueness of the specific craft they are making. I also provide examples as well.

Gondola
One of the first things people associate with Italy is gondolas! This was an easy craft I was able to print off via Crayola.  



Carnival Mask
In honor of the Carnival of Venice, we made masks from hand tracings. Carnival masks go far back in history for the Italians, and can be fun for all ages.

Materials:
Construction paper in various colors
Dowel rods
Washi tape
Glitter glue and/or stickers to decorate with
Pencil
Scissors (although I would recommend ripping instead, to create that blurry Monet effect)

Tape


Roman Helmet
Taking note of the influence the Roman Empire had on garb (especially armor), I decided to include a helmet craft. Kids enjoyed decorating their own helmets and wearing them for historical role play. Find printables here.



Catapult
As a lover of Renaissance Faires, I had to include one of my favorite takeaways from last year's Middle TN Faire...a mini catapult! I honestly could have set this thing in the middle of the room and had nothing else. By the end of the program, everyone just wanted to shoot things at the wall!



RECEPTION: Italy was one of my favorite programs so far, especially since I was able to emphasize the renaissance. I will note, this is also a good time to use the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to talk about renaissance art (I provided this information in the PowerPoint and coloring pages). And if you decide to teach Italy, be sure to have a catapult handy (and plenty of armor)! 

10.18.2018

Herb Fairies: Violet

Shelbyville-Bedford County Public Library and LearningHerbs
Herbalism is one of many hobbies that I'm passionate about. I've always preferred the outdoors, but as I've gotten older, my imagination that used to conjure fairies and gnomes (and sometimes still does) has learned that personifying plants may not be too far-fetched. I love to watch documentaries, and after checking out titles such as David Attenborough's The Private Life of Plants and Nature: What Plants Talk About from my local library, I became enchanted by the life around us that is often overlooked. With increasing concerns over the food we put in our bodies and the growing rate of poverty, I decided to begin harvesting my own food and medicines (within reason). 

In addition to this program, I have also developed a Seed Library to encourage a more sustainable community. So far, the response has been positive and I have received an increasing number of participants in the exchange. 

Herb Fairies came about during some research I was doing. The family-owned company is called LearningHerbs and they developed this amazing learning system with Herbalists Kristine Brown and Rosalee de la Foret for kids to learn about safely foraging plants they likely come across every day. There is a book series that pairs with the curriculum to make the lessons entertaining and are delivered to you in various formats, including audiobook, ebook, and print (when offered). Materials include, crafts, recipes (food and medicinal), materia medica, songs, activities, journals, calendars, and more. The information is so rich, I can only hope to skim the surface in one hour. 

To avoid feeling overwhelmed, I focus on four of the five senses. How may kids learn about this plant through touch, smell, taste, and sight? It is through our senses we create memories, and through this method I have had several parents tell me how excited their children get when they start identifying the plants in their yards. 

It is important to note that teaching herbalism is NOT giving medical advice. It is not to encourage families to avoid seeking medical attention when needed. There is a note that comes in the kit that should be distributed to parents about the safety of proper identification and consumption of plants. You may want to produce a contract for parents to sign. Before every class I make every child raise their right hand and promise they will not eat any plants without asking an adult first. 

One last thing: before distributing materials, please be sure to give credit where credit is due. I always tell parents how they can go more in depth by purchasing the system for themselves, and be sure to follow copyright laws when handing out resources. Libraries are permitted to circulate the Herbal Roots Zine as part of the collection, and we have subscribed to the zine for easy access and expansion beyond the 13 original plants presented in the books. To aid in memorizing plants and their uses even further, I created flash cards (all artwork is property of LearningHerbs) that I hand out for each plant.


Each book takes less than 30 minutes to read and will help children understand how each plant may be applicable in real-life situations. Per LearningHerbs.com


"Each of the 13 Herb Fairies books has a story of its own, but they’re all connected to tell the much bigger story of a time when the plant magic was fading from the world. When four young friends discover an herb fairy at the park, they are drawn into a healing adventure beyond their wildest dreams. 
The Old Man of the Forest has cast a terrible spell, locking up much of the plant magic and draining the magic from the world. The Herb Fairies turn to the children for help, and they all discover that only by working together and healing the magic keepers from all of the different magical races can the magic be fully restored."

A key element in the storyline is the discovery of a creature's name through riddles that surface each time an ailment is healed. The name discovered in the this book is Awareness. I like talking about the names and why they are important. It's a simple way of adding a short lesson on character.

For awareness, a good exercise to do is "Owl Eyes." Have kids put their hands in front of their faces as though they are going to clap them together. Instead, have them begin wiggling their fingers in their line of vision. Then slowly have them move their arms out while continuing to stare ahead (keep those fingers wiggling!). Have them continue this until they can barely see their fingers wiggling in their peripheral vision. The idea is to open up your focus and line of vision to see the world around you...even the fuzzy parts. Become more aware of your surroundings.

USING YOUR SENSES


Violet is one of my favorites! They are easy to see in the Spring because they are colorful among the ground (sight). In the book, it is mentioned that violets are related to pansies, so if you want to bring in some pansies to compare the two, it wouldn't hurt. Also, if you are able to find an ellipsoid seed pod (pictured above), I would highly recommend including it in your lesson. Not only are they cool to look at, but the fact they shoot seeds feet away is a fun fact your kids will enjoy. Bring in some leaves as well. The heart-shape is easy to identify and stays around most of the year. Keep in mind violets show up in the Spring and occasionally early Fall. In the Fall, smaller, less showy flowers will appear near the bottom of the plant, but you will find more seed pods at that time. 

With the help of the Herbal Roots Zine: Volume 1 Issue 3 we worked through how to identify the Viola Odorata species of violet. The Zines have worksheets and puzzles that I print off for plant identification and exercises. Going through the sheets takes a bit of time, so the more you can allow kids to connect what the paper says to the actual plant, the better. However, you may not always be able to get the fresh herb and that is perfectly okay.

We smelled the plant to see if it had any kind of aromatics. Some plants are more obvious than others (mint, lavender, chamomile, etc.) and at times you can use the sense of smell to determine if you're dealing with a look-alike or not.


TASTING - Candied Violets


I started the series about a month too late (I would recommend beginning in March or April, depending where you live), so I did not have fresh violet flowers, only leaves. If I did have fresh flowers, there is a very easy recipe to make candied violets that I would have included in the program. Instead, I found these candied violets that worked just fine (ingredients include real violets, sugar, gum arabic and certified food coloring). The kids could not stop eating these! They were fairly sugary, so they weren't able to get the full flavor of violet flowers, but it was still a fun tasting experience for them. 

Tasting the leaves was a whole other experience. Some kids didn't like the flavor, and others I had to encourage to save some for when we needed them later because they were eating them like candy!

Of course we observed some of the "energetics" of violet: was it sweet, sour, or bitter? Did it cause their mouths to pucker, salivate, or dry out? Plants that have an edible flower are great for this, because you can show how the different parts of the plant have different flavors and uses (as long as all parts are edible).

CRAFT - Potpourri
Taken from Herbal Roots Zine: Volume 1 Issue 3


Materials:
Organza bag
Dried Violet Flowers or Orris Root (root of Iris that smells like violet)
Assorted dried herbs of your choosing (rose petals, pine needles, rosemary, sage, lemon balm, etc.)
Essential oil of choice to add scent

This time we made potpourri that could be used around the house, in a bowl, in a jar (open jar and release scent), and pretty much anywhere a nice aroma is desired. If you don't have a good stock of organza bags, I would highly suggest keeping them on hand. I use them all the time as they are versatile in the world of crafting with herbs. You can get them in varying sizes, but if I'm limited on certain herbs and need them to stretch for several kids, I use the smaller sizes. You can get them in different designs, too. 

Mix the herbs together in the organza bag and add the oil. I just brought in two oil mixtures I had and let the kids pick which scent they wanted (this is also good if you have kids that dislike florals). For maximum strength, encourage them to put the bag in a jar when they get home (or provide the jars if your budget allows) and allow the scent to permeate for 2-3 weeks.


MEDICINE - Violet Leaf Oil

Taken from Herbal Roots Zine: Volume 1 Issue 3



Materials:
1C Freshly Wilted Violet Leaves
Olive or Coconut Oil
Optional: a Pinch of Slippery Elm Bark Powder
Mini Crockpot or Crockpot Designated for Herbal Medicine Making
Knife and Cutting Board
Strainer 
Jar/Little Essential Oil Bottles
Small Funnel
Label

This time, we made an oil out of violet leaves. I created some oil and bottled it up beforehand because the mixture needs to be heated for 8 hours in the crockpot. However, I brought in a tabletop stove, crockpot, and all my ingredients and simulated how I made the oil to give kids and parents a visual. 

The oil does not smell...great. This is not an aromatic oil, it is a medicinal oil. I explained this to my kids and asked if any of them wanted to smell it. Some of my parents were curious enough to give it a sniff as well. It has a very strong "plant" smell, but the medicinal properties are worth it.

Put all your leaves in the crockpot and pour enough oil until the leaves are just covered. Heat the crockpot on the lowest setting for 8 hours. Once the leaves look spent, allow the mixture to cool completely. Strain off the leaves and either throw them away or put them in the compost if able. Pour the mixture into a jar (do not fill the little bottles yet!) and allow it to sit for 2 days.

The next part can be tricky. If after 2 days you see a line on the bottom, that is water that did not evaporate and needs to be removed or the oil will go rancid. Save your oil, discard the water, and now you are ready to bottle up.

It's always important to label your creations, so on our labels we wrote what the oil was (Violet Leaf Oil) and the date. 

The jar pictured is my personal jar of oil that I use at home (the recipe makes A LOT of oil). You may mention to your mommies that violet leaf oil is great for reproductive health. If you suffer from cysts, I can attest the oil helps immensely.

RECEPTION: In the kits there are many more recipes and ideas you can incorporate into your teaching. I take a lot of time to familiarize my kids with the plant so they may understand how to properly identify it in nature. I had so many people at this program we had to pull out more chairs and materials! Their favorite part was definitely the candied violets, and on their way out the door they kept asking for more. Another successful Herb Fairies.


8.28.2018

Review: Secret of the Sevens

Secret of the Sevens Secret of the Sevens by Lynn Lindquist
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Everyone at a boarding school for underprivileged kids knows about the Society of Seven, an urban legend. The original members of this group built the school for the elite students. They killed off the school’s founder and burned to death in the fire they lit to hide the evidence. Or, at least that’s what they’ve heard. He tries to take his mind off of his impending homelessness after graduation, by accepting an invitation to join the Sevens group. His expectations of fun are destroyed after he’s already neck deep in conspiracies. Now he must keep his secrets to stay alive.

Interesting enough to keep me reading. It’s fast paced and the suspense was very well written, but I wasn't a huge fan of the sexist tendencies the protagonist exhibited. It overshadowed the storyline and didn't move the plot, so I found it unnecessary.


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8.25.2018

Review: The Lore of the Forest

The Lore of the Forest The Lore of the Forest by Alexander Porteous
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Searching for solid information about this book was a little difficult, as it's listed under multiple publication dates and titles. To set the record straight, it's original publication was in 1928 by Scottish author Alexander Porteous. You may also find it under the titles, "The Forest in Folklore and Mythology" (2001) and "Forest Folklore, Mythology and Romance" (2006).

For enthusiasts and scholars interested in the origins of folklore, this lovely compendium of history's most mystical tales emerge from the depths of the forest. The stories surround the lore of trees and the importance they've held to cultures of the past. Trees have often been viewed with reverence, fear, and mystery while upholding various roles within the spirituality of people.

This isn't an exegesis of myth, it is a comprehensive collection. The stories are short and disconnected, some more rounded than others. Also, keep in mind this title was written in the 1920s; it's delivered in old-English and directed toward a European-American audience. At times it may seem dry, but I did not pick this book up for any other reason than curiosity, so I enjoyed every moment of it.

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8.23.2018

Review: Lunar Abundance: Cultivating Joy, Peace, and Purpose Using the Phases of the Moon

Lunar Abundance: Cultivating Joy, Peace, and Purpose Using the Phases of the Moon Lunar Abundance: Cultivating Joy, Peace, and Purpose Using the Phases of the Moon by Ezzie Spencer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lunar Abundance was a title one of my book clubs was interested in going through together. Over the last cycle we have used the moon to become more conscious with our living. The book is formatted as more of a workbook, with questions to answer and journal about your experience. It's laden with gorgeous images and illustrations that I could easily frame and hang on the wall.

Lunar Abundance isn't a metaphysical book. I suppose it could be seen among such titles, but I would label it as self-help. It offers a recipe for using the visual marker of the moon to create attainable goals through Yin (resting) and Yang (action).

The printables found on the website were a nice bonus and helped simplify what was discussed in the book. I also loved that each chapter had a summary at the end.

The reason I give it three stars is I feel the book was much longer than necessary. For myself and the women in my book club, most of us have very busy schedules, and as I was reading I kept thinking "this could've been said in less words." It also had a lot of technical errors that made me cringe. Wordiness, unnecessary "fluff," an overabundance of punctuation, and repetitive terms. There should've been a lot more editing before hitting the shelves.

Love the imagery, the workbook portions are fairly simple, but reading through the text was a struggle.

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8.22.2018

Review: The Illustrated Herbiary by Maia Toll

Title: The Illustrated Herbiary
Author: Maia Toll
Publication Date: July 7th, 2015
Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 176
ISBN: 1612129684
Source: ARC from Publisher
Rating:

Synopsis (from Publisher):
Rosemary is for remembrance; sage is for wisdom. The symbolism of plants — whether in the ancient Greek doctrine of signatures or the Victorian secret language of flowers — has fascinated us for centuries. Contemporary herbalist Maia Toll adds her distinctive spin to this tradition with profiles of the mysterious personalities of 36 herbs, fruits, and flowers. Combining a passion for plants with imagery reminiscent of tarot, enticing text offers reflections and rituals to tap into each plant’s power for healing, self-reflection, and everyday guidance. Smaller versions of the illustrations are featured on 36 cards to help guide your thoughts and meditations.

Maia Toll spent a life-changing year apprenticed to a traditional medicine woman in Ireland. She mentors spiritual wellness seekers, practitioners, and teachers through her online program, The Medicine Keepers Collective, and is the founder and owner of Herbiary, a natural products store with locations in Asheville, North Carolina, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Maia has taught Botanical Medicine at West Chester University and at the Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research in the Peruvian jungle. She lectures at hospitals, universities, and herbal conferences and runs her own Deep Magic Retreat in the North Carolina mountains during the witchy twilight of autumn. She blogs to an international following at maiatoll.com and lives in Asheville, North Carolina.

I have Celiac Disease. When I was attending the PLA (Public Library Association) Conference in Philly back in March, I got sick off of cross contaminated food. For the first two days I was there I was miserable with a migraine, sleeplessness, stomach problems, inflamed lymph nodes, and fatigue. One day, when I was meeting up with some conference friends at Reading Market for lunch, I stumbled upon the Herbiary.
I’m generally drawn to any place that looks like it was plucked fresh from a wildwood, so I went to see what I may find. I told the girls at the counter I was needing something for lymphatic health, and they lead me to a burdock and red root compound. I also decided to purchase some Moon Drops to help me sleep, and off I went.
Within 10 hours of taking the compound I finally felt better and slept through the entire night. I was able to enjoy the rest of the conference without issue! I decided to look this “Herbiary” up and was ecstatic to find this book was releasing...but not until August!
Back up a little. Herbalism is something I’ve taken an interest in over the last year or so. My family doctor is a Naturopathic Doctor, and I’ve always favored natural pathways to health. I knew how to use plants once they got to me, but cultivating the plants themselves is something I’ve never done before. So, I moved into a house and started a garden and learned to wildcraft. Because of this, Maia Toll’s approach to building a relationship with the plants came through to me in a language I wanted to understand better. That’s why I preordered the book back in April and anxiously awaited its launch (and attended the online watch party!).
The Illustrated Herbiary is one of the most gorgeous books I have ever owned. Kate O’Hara’s artwork is lavish and inspiring. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it online, but when I had it in my hands the metallics brought it all to life.
Each section has a beautifully illustrated interpretation of a plant, followed by Maia Toll’s commentary on the importance of that plant. After we are introduced, Toll provides a ritual and reflection to know our plant better. A ritual may be a meditation or a recipe, and the reflection will give us a focus.
In the back cover of the book, all those illustrations are provided as oracle cards for easier meditation. I love this aspect of the book. In the last several pages, you will find images or them laid out, and advice on how to use them.


If you are looking for a textbook on herbs, this probably isn’t what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a practice to connect more with your herbs, then I highly recommend it.