I’ll admit—this recipe was inspired entirely by rewatching old episodes of the Great British Bake Off. I keep seeing shortbread cookies, and hearing them talk of how their “biscuits” have a satisfying snap. My midwestern American palate is much more accustomed to gooey, soft cookies which are delicious but a bit simpler. So I thought I’d try my hand at some springy shortbread cookies—which, of course, had to incorporate herbs.
In addition to a classically sweet and crisp shortbread recipe, I’ve combined the flavors of rose, orange, cardamom, vanilla, and honey. These lend a distinctly layered complexity to the mild taste of the biscuits and help them pair even better with a lovely black tea. (Springtime tea party recipe, perhaps?) Also, all these botanicals are uplifting, bright, and fresh. It’s the perfect light sweet after a winter of heavy sweets and spices.
March is dill month at the Plant Wonder Collective! I was searching for inspiration and recipes online, and realized that dill bread is a bit of an old-fashioned, simple, cozy favorite. Perfect!
We may think of dill as being mostly reserved for culinary uses (dill pickles and dill havarti—yum!) but there is some historical precedent for other applications. Dill is great for digestion and is often found in infant gripe water. It is nutrient-dense and high in flavonoids, which make it a great cardio-tonic herbal ally. Dill can help with inflammation and pain, and has been historically used for soothing in many contexts (it’s name comes from an Old Norse word meaning “to soothe”).
Interestingly, in the Middle Ages dill was used for protection and as a ward against witchcraft! It also represented luck and wealth, and might be found hanging in a home or worn as charms.
Whatever its other benefits, dill tastes really green and fresh! I used it to flavor a loaf of beer bread I made, and it tasted great paired with the mozzarella cheese I added. (Would be great with cheddar, too!) Here is the recipe if you’d like to try it!
Dill & Cheese Beer Bread
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp dried or 4 tsp fresh dill
1 12-oz can or bottle of beer
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 cup shredded cheese of your choice (mozzarella, cheddar, or havarti)
2 Tbsp butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Grease a 9 x 5 bread pan or line with parchment paper.
In a bowl, combine all ingredients except the beer and butter. Mix well.
Add the beer gradually and stir well to incorporate.
Transfer dough into the loaf pan.
Pour the melted butter over the top. You can also sprinkle a little more dill and shredded cheese over the top if you wish.
Bake for 40 – 50 minutes. Check with a toothpick—if it comes out clean, the bread is ready to come out.
Let cool slightly, then turn out onto a cooling rack. Slice and enjoy!
Are you as ready as I am for spring? Late February seems to always be like that for me, with sneaky early warm days making me itch for the real thing. And the fact that the first crocuses are beginning to pop up doesn’t help!
Between that and reading books about Beatrix Potter lately, I am in a distinctly flowery-tea-party mood. Not the fancy or stuffy kind, however; the unfussy, cozy, enjoying the bounty of nature and the comforts of home with friends kind. The sort with lavender Earl Grey in mismatched cups and a fresh-picked garden bouquet in a jam jar on the table. The type of flowery tea party I think Miss Potter herself would have enjoyed.
Imagining this scenario brings me to the simple little perfume oil I recently made to capture that feeling. I combined lavender-infused almond oil that I made recently with a few essential oils: geranium, bergamot, cardamom, and benzoin. This combination of scents is dreamy and floral, with a hint of sweet vanilla and warm spice. It’s nourishing to the skin and has a lovely calming effect.
The particular botanicals I chose also relate to this tea party I dreamed up. Geranium figured prominently into Beatrix Potter’s gardens and especially window boxes, with their cheery flowers and lovely rose-like scent. Bergamot, of course, is the key ingredient in Earl Grey tea, which was a bit of a special-occasion luxury to those in the Lake District at Beatrix’s time. Cardamom is more of a personal addition, but it’s my favorite and is the spice that I think ties florals, fruits, and musky scents together just right. And benzoin resin oil is an affordable alternative to vanilla with a distinctly vanilla creaminess; it also is traditionally used in incense to lift the spirits.
If you are also interested in folk and spiritual associations of botanicals, here are a few of the many associations I found for these:
Lavender: love, protection, calm, peace, insight
Geranium: uplifting and protection, balance, joy, beauty
Bergamot: happiness, harmony, love, courage
Cardamom: creativity, strength, focus, healing
Benzoin: purification, prosperity
If you’d like to join me at this imaginary tea party, here is the recipe!
One 10 ml essential oil roller bottle
Lavender-infused almond oil, or your carrier oil of choice
3 drops geranium essential oil
2 drops bergamot essential oil
2 drops cardamom essential oil
1-2 drops benzoin resin essential oil
Add lavender almond oil to the roller bottle until it is half full. Add the drops of essential oils. Top with more lavender almond oil, leaving about 1/4 inch head space. Securely place the roller top and lid on the bottle, then shake to mix. I like to let a perfume oil sit and infuse for a few days before using so the scents develop fully, but you wouldn’t have to.
Wear this perfume oil where you’d normally place perfume, and dream about springtime tea parties on sunny days! Just don’t forget to send me an invitation and let me know when teatime begins!
Hi there, friends! I know it has been a long time since my last post. Life has been very busy this month! But I am ready to dive back in.
Today is a bit of a different type of post because instead of sharing a recipe or some interesting herbal info, I am here to tell you about a new project I’ve recently been working on—an Etsy shop with downloadable herbalism content!
I began making myself some printable herbal journals and planners for organizational purposes (I get bitten by the organization bug in January for sure) and realized I could share them with others, too. So here is a bit about what I have available so far:
Home Apothecary Planners— I created a planner to help organize your inventory of herbs, herbal tea blends, tinctures, infused oils; to plan projects; to record recipes, craft instructions, and favorite places to buy herbs; to log foraging and keep a log of your favorite herbalism books; and to record basic herb profiles. This planner comes in a couple color options (with more to come).
Herbal Materia Medica— This printable is a more in-depth template for creating your own herbal Materia Medica with profiles of all your favorite herbs. It is all clean lines and user-friendly, with two different cover options, pages for a master running table of contents list, more in-depth plant profiles, and recipe pages with various design options for you to print as needed.
Coming soon— I am so excited to say that I am working on writing a spring tea recipe e-booklet, which I plan to release March 1! And, I also plan to write more tea recipe e-books for all the seasons. I have big plans for the future in the realm of recipe book writing (it’s my *Big Dream* as far as the direction I’m going with herbalism), and these booklets are the first step. I am pouring a lot of love, hard work, and *magic* into this project and I can’t wait to share it with you, my friends!
This mama was SICK for Christmas. I caught a nasty stomach virus and was down for the count for a couple days. Ever since, I’ve felt weak and depleted! My muscles feel sore and weak, I am feeling extra worn down, and my stomach is still not back to normal. So, I thought I would turn to my apothecary and make some restorative tea today to help me bounce back.
Some of my favorite herbs for building back strength after an illness include (but are not limited to!) nettle, oatstraw, dandelion root, and tulsi. You could combine all four into a soothing tea, or turn to your favorite tinctures and tea blends that contain these allies.
Here is a little bit of information on how these herbs help after an illness!
Nettle is a powerful nourishing and nutritive adaptogen that excels at building strength. Among so many benefits, it helps with fatigue, rebuilding deficient nutrients, building blood, and flushing things out.
Oatstraw aids in some of the same ways as nettle, with a bit of a different approach and the benefit of being a relaxing nervine. It is incredibly replenishing, tasty, and helps with burnout and exhaustion.
Dandelion root does important work by aiding liver function. It is nutritive, helps rebuild gut flora, aids in digestion and flushing things out, and is incredibly grounding to boot.
Tulsi is my go to herb for many things! It is an incredibly helpful adaptogen and a relaxing nervine, aiding in balancing things out and bringing you back to center.
What are your favorite herbs or remedies for rebuilding strength after illness?
To celebrate the winter solstice and Yule, I have made some special candles to help mark the occasion as my family and I make (and eat!) cookies and read books about the solstice. Although it is the official beginning of winter, it is also the darkest night—and the light of our candles reminds us that the warmth of the sun shines through and will strengthen with each coming day. It is how people have long gathered their courage to face the winter’s cold: the returning of the light offers hope.
For my Yule Forest candles, I combined beeswax, a bit of coconut oil, and essential oils for a natural scent option. (Make sure you do your due diligence in choosing ethical essential oil companies to buy from 💚). Here are the scents I chose, along with their symbolic attributes:
Here are the directions for making the candles if you’d like to make some, too!
Making 6 candles:
We will enjoy the gentle light and wintry woods scent of one of these candles (I made 6 so I could gift the others to loved ones) while munching on chai snickerdoodles and reading. The pictured books (Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter and the winter story from Little Witch Hazel) are a couple of our favorites to welcome the solstice.
One of my new favorite things to make is lotion bars, made with herbal infused oils! They’re easier to make than you might think, and feel so soothing and luxurious on your skin.
I started with olive oil I had infused with calendula a while back for skincare purposes. Calendula is very healing and beneficial to the skin, and olive oil is quite moisturizing and good for the hands, arms, and legs. Very helpful this time of year when we begin getting dry, chapped skin from the cold & dry weather!
I combined the herb-infused oil with beeswax and shea butter, then added a small bit of tangerine essential oil for a cheery scent addition. (The essential oil is optional, though. Also, remember to choose ethical essential oil companies to buy from!)
Here is the full recipe, in case you’d like to make some of your own!
Calendula Olive Oil Lotion Bars
(Makes 8 good sized lotion bars)
Silicone molds or silicone cupcake liners
Double boiler (optional)
112 g shea butter
80 g beeswax pellets
96 g olive oil infused with calendula flowers
12-16 drops essential oil (optional; I used tangerine)
Prepare your supplies and area; you might want to put down a layer of parchment or waxed paper in case of dribbles.
Melt the beeswax pellets, shea butter, and calendula olive oil slowly over low heat in the double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, set a large glass mixing bowl over a small saucepan containing about 1 inch of water, put your ingredients in the mixing bowl, and it works the same way.
Once the ingredients are melted, remove from heat and carefully add and stir in essential oil if you’re using it.
Carefully pour the hot liquid into your silicone molds. Allow to cool completely for a good long while before trying to turn them out—I like to have the molds all lined up on a baking sheet and transfer that to the fridge for quicker setting, but that’s optional.
Once the lotion bars are finished, store them in individual small tins, waxed paper bags, or jars for gifting. They warm up quickly when rubbed against the skin and turn into a light but nourishing lotion. These can double as lip balm, too!
I made a couple batches of these and plan to gift them to friends and family for the holidays! (Sorry for the spoiler, friends and family! 😂) They’re such a nice little handmade gift that feels extra special. And the calendula oil is like a bit of sunshine to soak up during the winter months!
This recipe was inspired by a recipe in 101 Easy Homemade Products for your Skin, Health, and Home by Jan Berry.
It’s the time of year when digestion is key! Heavy, rich foods abound due to the holidays and the approach of winter, and many of us need some extra relief.
Often, digestion teas rely heavily on ginger, but I find it too spicy and irritating sometimes. I often need more of a cooling approach to indigestion instead. That’s where this tasty vanilla digestion tea comes in!
Vanilla is an aromatic stimulant and carminative botanical, with anti-inflammatory, digestive-soothing, calming, and fever easing benefits. These properties make it a great ingredient in a digestion tea!
In the interest of a more cooling approach to digestion, I’ve combined the vanilla with meadowsweet, mint, and fennel seed. If you add honey or your sweetener of choice, it’s a light and tasty dessert all on its own with a taste reminiscent of candy canes!
A bit of a breakdown of the other herbal ingredients I’ve combined with the vanilla here—
Mint can be both warming and cooling, depending on your constitution, but I find it affects me in a soothing and cooling manner. It is a mildly stimulating herb, so it aids in moving things along in the digestion process.
Meadowsweet is a top tier digestion reliever. Its cooling, drying, astringent, inflammation modulating, and even pain modulating properties make it an indispensable ally. However, if you’re sensitive to aspirin, you should avoid meadowsweet because it contains naturally-occurring salicylic acid. (If this is you, substitute chamomile or elderflower.)
Fennel is one of my very favorite herbs for digestion. It’s a pungent aromatic herb with antispasmodic and carminative properties, making it ideal for a digestion tea. Interestingly, I found a hand-written note in my great grandmother’s herbalism books suggesting to use fennel for calming. Though it isn’t technically considered a nervine or adaptogen, there is an inextricable link between gut health and mental health, so it does check out!
Here is the simple and sweet recipe for cooling vanilla digestion tea:
1 part vanilla (use chopped vanilla beans or powdered vanilla bean—my choice for economical purposes)
2 parts meadowsweet
2 parts mint
1 part fennel seed
Brew for about 5 minutes; longer can cause a bitter taste from the meadowsweet.
Do you suffer from digestive issues this time of year? Let me know if you try this tea! You might find that soothed digestion leads to a calmer state of mind this time of year!
I am *just* beginning to teach myself the art of candle making! It is not terribly difficult, but there is definitely a knack to it and little things to learn through the process. I am no expert yet, but I am quickly learning some of the finer points!
I have decided to use a combo of beeswax and coconut oil for my candle base for the time being, and I scent my candles with essential oils. The scent is more subtle than that from my favorite store-bought candles, but it’s lovely and natural, healthier, and much more magical and special to make them myself. All the cozy and loving intention is poured into each one with the wax.
For those who are also interested in candle making but aren’t sure where to start, here is a little list of the basic supplies I decided to begin with:
This batch of beeswax candles combines the scents of coffee, cinnamon, vanilla, clove, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, lemon, blood orange, and balsam copaiba essential oils. (The coffee oil is a separate one from Simply Earth; the rest are in a pumpkin spice oil blend from Plant Therapy.)
Aside from providing a cozy, delicious scent perfect for this time of year, these botanicals are grounding, balancing, energizing, and represent love, luck, and healing. I’ve topped each candle with coffee beans, star anise, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves.
Here are the instructions for how I made this batch of candles—it makes 6 four-ounce candles.
(A couple notes: I am still experimenting with the essential oil amounts. You could definitely use more than I did here for a stronger scent—up to 200 drops! But I went conservative here for lightly scented candles. Also, be very careful topping candles with cinnamon, and make sure it isn’t too near the wick! It can spark if it catches the flame just right.)
I plan to keep a couple of these and share the love by gifting the rest this holiday season! And I hope to make more with different scent profiles and additions soon—I’ll share those here or on Instagram when I do.
Have you ever tried your hand at candle making? Is it something you’re interested in trying?
It’s that time of year: colds, coughs, congestion, sinus headaches, the works. I don’t know about you, but I have a constant runny nose, and often a bit of a cough, once my wildlings start bringing fall germs home from school. This also wreaks havoc on my skin! I get dry, sore skin around my nose and sinuses, and my face just feels dry and tight.
So I decided to try something that would be great for both my sinuses and my skin: a facial steam. It’s really quite easy! Just add your herbs to a big bowl, pour in hot water from your tea kettle, drape a towel over your head, lean over the bowl—trapping in the lovely aromatic steam—and let the botanicals do their magic!
Oregano is the star of the show today. With its antimicrobial and lung-soothing properties, as well as its warming and stimulating effects, oregano is a lovely ally. With it I combined rose petals, lavender, and calendula for my skin issues and yarrow and thyme to boost the sinus clearing and germ-fighting properties.
Let me tell you, this was a relaxing and divine way to get some relief! I think I’ll be doing this quite often now.
Here is the recipe, so you can try this lovely steam, too! I used dried herbs to make this recipe, which makes it super simple for wintertime use! For the “parts” size, I used tablespoons, then tripled the recipe; this made more than enough of the mixture to put some in a jar and do it again a few more times.
Mix the dried herbs well in a bowl. In a separate bowl, add your desired amount—I’d recommend 2-3 tablespoons. Then add steaming (not boiling) water heated in a tea kettle. Put a towel over your shoulders and head and lean over the bowl, carefully draping the towel to enclose the hot steam with your face. Close your eyes, relax, and enjoy inhaling the fragrant steam for several minutes!
Have you ever tried a facial steam? If so, which are your favorite herbs to include?