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.
I am so proud to say that I’ve written a recipe ebook! It is available for purchase now in my Etsy shop, HERE.
The Spring Tea Booklet contains 20 tea recipes based on the season, nature, nature-based festivities, folklore, art, cozy aesthetics, and more! It also includes tips on tea-making and sourcing herbs and ingredients.
Lovingly created, written, photographed, and designed by folk herbalist Anna Reisz (me!!), this tea recipe booklet is a cozy and magical way to ground into the season. These recipes are approachable and perfect for anyone, from beginners to experienced tea blenders. Draw on the inspiration in these pages to create teas for self care, parties and special occasions, gifts, and more.
Spring Full Moons (3 recipes) Persephone Ace of Wands Robin Cottagecore Anne Shirley Element: Air Spring Equinox Light Academia Spring Forest Intention: Creativity Spring Zodiac Signs (3 recipes) Beltane Brigid Beatrix Potter Spring Dreams
I am grateful to anyone who considers taking a peek at this creation that I am proud of and considers purchasing a copy. This cozy herb thing is something I do because I love it, and I am so happy when others think it is pretty cool, too. Your support helps me continue to be able to do this—learning, creating, and sharing.
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!
I don’t know about you, but for me, lavender is a scent that makes me think of spring. (I’m not sure why, because it’s not in-season where I live until the summer!) Since I am dreaming so, so much about spring, and since I had just strained some lavender-infused almond oil and mint-infused coconut oil recently, I decided to make some relaxing lip balm with a springy scent to carry me away in my daydreams of warmth and sunshine.
Lavender is such a relaxing scent, and it pairs really well with uplifting peppermint. Also, both herbs have antimicrobial and skin soothing and replenishing properties. Most people find both to be gentle for use on the skin, but if you’re sensitive (or making this recipe for young children), you might want to eliminate one or both essential oils in the recipe, or use less of both.
Lip balm is not too tricky if you’re new to making body care products. Here’s the recipe, if you want to give it a try!
Lavender Peppermint Lip Balm
(Makes 7 0.5-oz containers of lip balm)
7 lip balm tins, 0.5 oz
Double boiler (optional)
28 g shea butter
20 g beeswax pellets
16 g almond oil infused with lavender flowers
8 g coconut oil infused with peppermint leaf
4 drops lavender essential oil
3 drops peppermint essential oil (or leave out if you have sensitive skin)
Prepare your supplies and area; you might want to put down a layer of parchment or waxed paper in case of dribbles. I place mine on a baking sheet.
Melt the beeswax pellets, shea butter, and infused oils 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 lip balm tins. Allow to cool completely for a good long while before using—I like to have my tins on a baking sheet and transfer that to the fridge for quicker setting, but that’s optional.
Once the lip balms are finished setting up, they’re ready to use!
Also known as Candlemas or Midwinter, the first of February has long been a traditional time to celebrate the hope of winter’s end. The days are getting longer, the sun is beginning to return, and it’s time to start thinking about the seeds to be planted in spring (both literal and metaphorical). Traditionally, Imbolc was a feasting occasion and marked the lambing time, too. Nearing winter’s end the vegetable stores were dwindling, so foods involving milk, butter, and baking staples are customary.
It’s also a time to honor Brigid, who holds dual status as a pagan deity and as a Christian saint. She opens the way for spring’s return and is a fire and hearth goddess, among her many other associations. Brigid is also linked to fertility, inspiration, and poetry—all befitting the eager looking forward toward spring.
I decided to follow the Imbolc tradition of making a sweet celebratory baked good full of the dairy goodness traditionally associated with the occasion. I chose to make blackberry lemon poppyseed muffins specifically due to the ties between seeds and Imbolc, lemons and the sun as a symbol of the day, and blackberries and Brigid, to whom they are sacred. I also added cardamom as another seed connection (and because I adore it and add it to baked goods every chance I get).
This batch is delicious but turned out a bit…well, “rustic-looking!” Still, I think that is well within the spirit of the occasion. A couple changes I’d make the next time I make a batch of these include: use fewer blackberries (the recipe below is adjusted for that) and cut them up, bake a little longer, don’t do the 5 minutes at a higher temp at the beginning that the original recipe called for, and maybe consider larger muffin tins. (I’m far from an expert baker—so you get a realistic picture of the process here!)
“The odor of burning juniper is the sweetest fragrance on the face of the earth, in my honest judgment; I doubt if all the smoking censers of Dante’s paradise could equal it.”
Happy (belated) New Year!
Today, my wildlings are back at school, and I am celebrating the beginning of the new year with a simmer pot containing dried juniper berries, pine needles, orange slices, cinnamon, rosemary, and cloves. (You can read more about it on my Instagram post HERE.)
Did you know I wrote an article all about juniper folklore for the recent Winter Botanical Anthology? I’m case you missed it, and because juniper is such a lovely botanical for this time of year, I thought I’d share that article with you here today!
Though it’s perhaps not the first evergreen one thinks of in connection to winter, juniper has a long and storied history that often ties it to the colder parts of the year.
Juniper represents hope and warmth, thriving in overwrought soil where other trees can’t. It is symbolically, elementally, and astrologically associated with fire, ruled by the Sun and closely tied to Mars. Juniper also symbolizes eternal life.
The juniper tree’s berry-like cones and twigs provide food for animals, often the only available winter sustenance. They offer culinary and medicinal uses for humans, and there are many ritualistic applications for juniper’s wood and berries, as well. It is quite interesting how juniper’s folk associations mirror its medicinal uses.
The age-old use of juniper medicinally for healing, relieving stagnation, and protection from diseases probably stems in large part from the berries’ diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties. One of the most pleasant ways to administer these medicinal benefits came in the form of gin, the juniper berry liquor that dates back as far as the 11th century, as well as medicinal juniper twig beer.
In accord with these historical medical practices, juniper was—and still is—used in folk practice for protection. For disease, poison, plague, spirits, demons, and especially thievery, juniper has been a potent ward.
Often, smoke and charms are the vehicle by which juniper performs this protective service. Many cultures, including ancient Greeks and Egyptians, used juniper incense in this manner. Various types of protective amulets and charms were made from juniper berries, as well. The trees have even been long used in some places as Yule or Christmas trees or greenery for some added protection.
The Scottish have a long-standing winter tradition. The day after Hogmanay, the celebration of New Year’s eve, women would perform a saining, a smoke cleansing of the entire house with smoldering juniper branches. The aromatic smoke was carried and dispersed throughout the house for blessings, purification, and protection for the coming year; the same was performed through barns and to purify livestock.
Several species of juniper are also native to the Americas, as reflected by juniper’s presence in many indigenous Americans’ traditions and tales. Among those, the Hopi, Navajo, Blackfoot, and Seneca tell legends surrounding the tree or its berries. A Seneca tale involves junipers and other evergreens standing up to old man winter so spring may return.
While winter persists, perhaps juniper is a plant to explore a deeper relationship with. Whether it’s branches in greenery that decorates the home, fragrant incense, or even a sip of gin, inviting juniper in is a way to connect to this plant’s long history.
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?