Monday, May 26, 2014


We harvest the leaves from some fallen branches out back...

We cut them up into small pieces and made a tincture...

...and some eucalyptus-infused honey. Maybe tomorrow we will dye wool and silk with the dried leaves.

While we cut the leaves I told the girls some eucalyptus stories. We talked about what kinds of remedies we could make and what ailments they would cure. They retain more than I imagined they would: yesterday Isla had a splinter in her foot and she said, "We need plantain! I have to make a poultice to pull the splinter out of my foot!" Today she said she had a stuffy nose, "But I don't want to breathe in eucalyptus steam!"

Bird Whisperer

The eggs that were laid in the nest made in Isla's hanging bike helmet outside hatched a while ago. We left the babies alone, and it looks like they grew up enough to fly. Our front door was open and two flew right inside! Luckily Grandpa Tapa was near, so we enlisted his help with freeing our bird friends. I imagined he would get a broom to shoo them outside or something but instead he calmly went up to first one then the other. He talked to them and then gently cupped one at a time in his big hands. The girls got to see each one up close for just a split second before they burst out of Tapa's hands into their sky home. Isla even pet one!

California Poppy

Chopping it all up...

It does not "fmell" very good.

Our neighbor was pulling out a bunch of California poppy in front of her home. It was the perfect opportunity to harvest some and make some tincture. Isla was very excited about the helpful qualities of the poppy, and even feigned a toothache so she could try pressing the root against her gums (it didn't end up being a popular remedy because of the taste!). We did have fun chopping up the plants and making tincture, although the best part ended up being finding caterpillars among the leaves.

Surfing with Dolphins

Another incredible day at the beach. The girls got to go surfing with Daddy, and about ten minutes into their session dozens of dolphins came out to join them, flipping and jumping within a few feet of them. Goodness, I need a better camera. I was able to snap a couple of grainy shots, but they don't come close to capturing the magic of this afternoon.

Camping in Big Sur

We Eat Veggies

I was at the park with the girls the other day. They were running around, each with a cucumber in one hand and a hunk of bell pepper in the other, happily munching and playing. I overheard some parents nearby swapping stories of how difficult it is to get young children to eat healthy food. Then one mom asked me how on earth I got my kids to eat vegetables. I think if the only choices children are offered are healthy choices, children won't turn up their noses at fresh vegetables or other healthy food.

I hear all the time things like, "All my little one will eat is mac and cheese and sugary treats!" Hmmm. If I offered my girls mac and cheese and sugary treats I bet that's all they'd ask for, too. That's my challenge from here on out - to offer my girls ONLY healthy foods. I don't want to be too extreme, so we are going to have ice cream this summer and all of that, but it will be homemade ice cream, sweetened just a little with honey or stevia. I can already tell that the hardest part will be to get the grandmas on board! I am trying to find the healthy way to make everything, and in doing that we end up learning all about spices, herbs, flowers, and other plants. Here's our homemade root beer, made from sarsaparilla, fennel, cinnamon, fizzy mineral water and honey:

Anyway, I didn't want to sound too smug and obnoxious, so at the park that day I gave the other end of the explanation as to why my girls eat veggies: they garden! They grow this stuff, and they're proud of it. When they want a snack, they run out to their garden and pick a hunk of cauliflower or broccoli... or kale. The part I try not to rub in other moms' faces is that these vegetables taste good to them because they are not comparing them to the taste of this morning's cupcake, or this afternoon's packaged mac n cheese. (They do get mac n cheese, of course, but it is made with brown rice noodles and bone broth, and has a sauce made from blended kale and parmesan, with nutritional yeast and avocado on top... oh wait, I was trying not to sound smug!)


I had a very proud "mama moment" last night. Lyra burned her finger on a dish of elderberry dumplings we had just made, and I had gotten her a cup of cool water and a cold potato slice to put on it. While I was off looking for my honey and bandaids Isla said, "Mom! We need lavender! Lavender helps burns, remember?" I had forgotten! We made an infusion (strong tea, left covered 15 minutes to steep), cooled it with an ice cube, and applied napkins soaked in it to Lyra's burns. It was the only thing that helped. She didn't complain once after the lavender. I was so happy that Isla had learned such an important thing from our week of loving on lavender, that it is not just delicious (although we have certainly enjoyed the deliciousness of it as well):

Lavender cake, lavender tea, lavender lemon aid, lavender infused honey... We make as many treats and remedies as possible from each plant we are learning about. This, along with stories about the plants and their corresponding fairies, seems to give the girls an extra connection to the plant.

I beam with pride whenever I hear them explaining to a friend or relative about the different healing qualities of this or that plant. We go on walks and the girls call out, "wild mustard!... wild radish!... nasturtium!... sage!... yarrow!... plantain!..." and it makes me so happy.

We have dozens of useful plant books at home, but my favorite kid-friendly resources are "Herb Fairies" and "Herbal Roots Zine," both absolutely worth checking out. We started with a few by Rosemary Gladstar, and for the kids I got, "A Kid's Herb Book," by Lesley Tierra, and "Walking the World in Wonder - A Children's Herbal," by Ellen Evert Hopman. If you are pregnant I highly recommend "The Wise Woman's Herbal for the Childbearing Year." It is incredibly user-friendly and thorough, and is great for beginners as well as "seasoned" herbalists.

Candle Making