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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Dandelion Tincture


I’m trying my hand at making tinctures. I chose dandelion as my first experiment because they’re everywhere and FREE. If it doesn’t work I’m only out the cost of the vodka, which thanks to Trader Joe’s, isn’t very much. (They sell a brand called Burnett’s for about $7 a bottle. Very affortable for iffy experiments.) I picked the dandelion leaves and roots the other day after the rain. (Yes, that crazy lady at the park with muddy mocassins and plastic bags was me.) I rinsed the plants, separated the leaves from the roots, and stuffed them each in their own mason jars. Filled the jars with vodka, whispered a few magical words, and did a little dandelion dance. That’s all there is to it. You’re supposed to agitate the jar every day or two for the next 6 months. Hopefully I’ll remember. Actually, I’ll just be happy if in 6 months I can remember where I put the jars…


The Lazy Gardener Strikes Again




I won’t bore you with the details of why I’ve been so lazy in the garden lately. Let’s blame it on having a baby, the holidays, my mom came to visit, any number of excuses really. In any case, I’ve turned the management of the garden over to the gods or the fates or the ghost of Masanobu Fukuoka for the time being. The rain has taken over watering duties, and I figure with that at least in place, everything else will continue to work itself out. Funny things happen when I forget about things I’ve planted though. Sometimes my lazy ways are rewarded. This time the reward was the sight of notoriously hard to grow heads of Romanesco Broccoli peeking their swirly bumpy little heads out from under the plant’s big green leaves. Full confession: I really had no hope for these guys. The check-out guy at the nursery told me he had tried to grow these same broccoli three times and had failed each time to yield any heads. Full full confession: after buying them from the nursery I set the plants in the corner by the herbs are forgot about them. Like, really forgot about them. Full, full, full confession: these broccoli are still in their flats. I never even planted them.
I may be lazy, but I’m also smart enough to leave well enough alone. I won’t be disrupting whatever magic is working for these broccoli. They’ll stay in their flats exactly where they are. I’m just going to be thankful and pleased…and maybe search my cookbooks for a recipe that will compliment these surprise vegetables.

Longevity study on the Greek island of Ikaria

…and another destination to add to the “Other Places I Want to Live” list.

The Island Where People Forget to Die

Winter Weeds






The rain brought a bounty of new weeds to my super-secret foraging spot. One of my goals this year is to become more confident identifying wild weeds. So far dandelion and fennel are the two I’m completely sure about when I find them. Above are the photos of the weeds I encountered today.

Dori Midnight

“…I still think social media and networks are our training wheels for something else. We’re weaving a web that is strong and vibrant, we’re connecting across borders, we’re remembering how to be part of a whole. It’s as if the planet is knitting itself more tightly together, faster and faster- we’re moved and changed by learning of somebody somewhere else moving and changing. I see how these tweets and posts are training us to dream together and move in some kind of graceful resonant current. I see the glimmerings of the days to come in which actions are planned in dream circles and we have meetings on the astral plane and artists are healers and healers are activists and activists are healers and we all dream together new dreams of a just, beautiful, life-sustaining world, where the invisible, the “unreal” and the imaginary are all loved and honored.”- Dori Midnight

Midnight Apothecary

Tomatoes in January?


Who would have thought we’d be eating tomatoes in January? Well, technically we’re not, since these little guys are still green and the jury’s out on whether or not they’ll actually ripen. But the concept of tomatoes in January is sort of indicative of our climate here in Southern California and the unpredictability of the garden’s bounty. Planting seasons are just not the same here: the winter is short, the rains are sporatic, and navigating frost dates is perplexing.

Mr. Homegrown has a good post over on Root Simple explaining our Meditteranean climate and how it affects gardening here. I, too, need to read some books or search for further information about growing food in this area. My experience always seems to run counter to the books I read about gardening that are focused on other climates: like the myth that growing squash is the easiest thing in the world, even though I’ve repeadedly had terrible luck growing squash here. (I always do well with peppers and also had success during the last couple months with lettuce and chard.) But, on the bright side, maybe by living here there’s the chance of eating tomatoes year-round?

Make Your Own Medicated Shower Steam

Cold and flu season has us by the throat, doesn’t it? A few people I know really have it bad: several weeks of illness so intense they can barely get out of bed. I’ve had a touch of it too, but thankfully it’s been manageable, especially with a few tricks up my sleeve. My new weapon is a medicated shower steam. You don’t need to buy those little dissolving tablets at the drug store because you can easily make this yourself.

Place two tablespoons of baking soda in a bowl.

On top of the baking soda, add 5 drops of eucalyptus essential oil.

(Variations: you can also add two drops of lavendar essential oil for relaxation or two drops of either lemongrass or sweet orange essential oil for rejuvenation.)

Take your little mound of baking soda and dump it in the bathtub on the far end, away from the shower head. Take a hot shower and as the spray lightly hits the baking soda mound, the eucalyptus scent will be released and the medicated steam will help relax and clear your breathing. Keep breathing in the steam deeply while you shower as usual.

I’ve been doing this morning and evening and it’s helped keep my breathing passages clear and my spirits up.

Sun Bear

Photo courtesy of National Geographic.

Photo courtesy of National Geographic.

While reading up on bears for my immersion into SouLodge for the month of January, I came across the Sun Bear. They’re the smallest bear species, and possess an orange crescent-shaped marking on their chest. They also have a long skinny tongue that they use to sneak honey from beehives. Sun Bears don’t hibernate and are mostly nocturnal.

And of course now I want this Sun Bear totem by HandyMaiden.

Wild Fennel



It seems hollyhocks are my new favorite flower. Luckily for me they are growing all over my neighborhood. Here’s a particularly striking hot pink one.


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