Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dyeing Silk Scarves with Elderberries

I have had so much fun over the last year dyeing fiber (mostly silk) with a variety of plants and other natural materials. Cochineal beetles come to mind. Anyway, my latest dyepot was with Elderberries, and it gave me the most wonderful soft taupe color. It's a lovely cross between gray, brown and purple. Here's a photo taken my my friend Maryanne. I love the dyepot process - I never know exactly what will come out. There are so many variables, including what the water might have in it! I only dyed scarves in the Elderberry pot & gave many of them away in a "swap" organized by Tina & Maryanne for The Essential Herbal. Sometimes, I dye other things, too, including rayon sun dresses & wrap around skirts. One of my favorites is silk camisoles. Here's a photo of scarves,camisoles & even a couple of parasols dyed with a variety of plants. That's my apprentice Jen on the left, my friend Linda from AvalonBlue in the center, & me on the right. What a day we had!

You can go to my web site to see what we have on hand now. There are quite a few silk scarves & I'm thinking that they would make excellent holiday gifts. These are lovely Habotai silk scarves, dyed using a variety of natural materials - onion skins, madder root, logwood, brazilwood, tansy, usnea, and of course elderberries.

As I said, I do love the dyeing process - it's always such a magical experience. I never know precisely how each scarf will turn out, and I always am awed by each one. The size of the scarves is approximately 8"x54", a perfect size for wearing around your neck. Another of the things that I love about natural dyes is the color - it's sometimes subltle, sometimes strong, but they all "go" together! You could wear any color scarf with almost any other color & it would complement it beautifully.
I also use one of these scarves to wrap each of my decks of tarot cards, too. In my experience, the silk helps to keep them "clear". I don't use runes myself, but if I did, I'd wrap them in silk before placing them in their bag, too.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

13 Indigenous Grandmothers

Perhaps you have heard of them already, perhaps not. Each time I am reminded of their work, I am filled with gratitude and hope. I am reminded also of the danger and fear we live with, and the urgency for us to act now, each in our own ways and collectively in community. Here is the Grandmother's statement, and a link to a trailer for a documentary film that is being made about their work.

Statement of Alliance

WE ARE THIRTEEN INDIGENOUS GRANDMOTHERS who came together for the first time from October 11 through October 17, 2004, in Phoenicia, New York. We gathered from the four directions in the land of the people of the Iroquois Confederacy. We come here from the Amazon rainforest, the Arctic circle of North America, the great forest of the American northwest, the vast plains of North America, the highlands of central America, the Black Hills of South Dakota, the mountains of Oaxaca, the desert of the American southwest, the mountains of Tibet and from the rainforest of Central Africa.

Affirming our relations with traditional medicine peoples and communities throughout the world, we have been brought together by a common vision to form a new global alliance.
We are the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers. We have united as one. Ours is an alliance of prayer, education and healing for our Mother Earth, all Her inhabitants, all the children and for the next seven generations to come.

We are deeply concerned with the unprecedented destruction of our Mother Earth, the contamination of our air, waters and soil, the atrocities of war, the global scourge of poverty, the threat of nuclear weapons and waste, the prevailing culture of materialism, the epidemics which threaten the health of the Earth's peoples, the exploitation of indigenous medicines, and with the destruction of indigenous ways of life.

We, the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, believe that our ancestral ways of prayer, peacemaking and healing are vitally needed today. We come together to nurture, educate and train our children. We come together to uphold the practice of our ceremonies and affirm the right to use our plant medicines free of legal restriction. We come together to protect the lands where our peoples live and upon which our cultures depend, to safeguard the collective heritage of traditional medicines, and to defend the earth Herself. We believe that the teachings of our ancestors will light our way through an uncertain future.
We join with all those who honor the Creator, and to all who work and pray for our children, for world peace, and for the healing of our Mother Earth.

For all our relations.

The link to the film trailer is

Monday, November 19, 2007

Roasted Pears with Bleu Cheese & Walnuts

We had our first dusting of snow when we woke up this morning! How exciting! The maples are still covered in flourescent orange leaves, so it's a dramatic landscape. Of course, I managed to leave the camera at the shop, so I can't post a photo. Sorry.

I'm starting to think about Thanksgiving. It's not always easy to focus on what we are thankful for, and I am glad for the reminder to pause and reflect.

I'm also thinking about the meal we'll cook. I got this recipe for baked pears the other day, & think I'll make that for dessert. (Thanks, Andrea!) I'll substitute a chevre for the bleu cheese, since that's our preference. Usually, I make a pumpkin cheesecake, but I think I'll take a pass on that particular high-calorie recipe this year.

Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese and Walnuts

4 pears, halved, but not peeled or cored
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 bunch fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup crumbled good-quality blue cheese
1/4 cup walnut pieces

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Arrange the pears, cut sides up, on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Strip the leaves from the thyme branches and sprinkle over the pears. Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake 20 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and spoon a generous teaspoon of crumbled cheese in the center of each pear half, return the pears to the oven and roast until they are tender and the cheese is soft, about 10 more minutes.

Meanwhile, put the walnuts on another baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden brown and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Chop. When the pears are cooked, transfer them to a serving plate and sprinkle the toasted walnuts over the top. Serve hot.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Chicken Corn Soup With Ginger

I've been putting together some recipes to go with an article that I've written for the next NEHA journal. This is a good one for keeping the immune system and digestive system strong through the winter. And it's delicious!

Years ago, a friend of mine served me a delicious chicken & corn soup with ginger. It was so good that I went home & came up with my own version of it! Here in Lancaster County, PA Dutch chicken corn soup with noodles is a wintertime staple – this soup is very different from that one!

Sarah’s Chicken Corn Soup with Ginger

2 Tbsp Olive oil
2 Cups chopped onion
2 Tbsp shredded fresh ginger
6 or 8 garlic cloves, chopped
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 quarts chicken broth
1 Cup shredded, dried Astragalus root in a muslin bag
2 Tbsp chopped American Ginseng root, also in the bag
1 ½ Cups dried corn
Sea salt & black pepper to taste
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

In a soup kettle, sauté onions, ginger & garlic for a couple of minutes. Add chicken & sauté for 4 or 5 minutes, until browned a little. Add the chicken broth & bag of roots, & bring to a boil. Stir in the dried corn & reduce heat. Add salt & pepper. Simmer for an hour or more on very low heat. Add water if needed as the corn re-hydrates. If you have a large enough pot, this recipe can be doubled or even tripled, and you can eat it all week! It gets better with each re-heating.

Copyright 2007, Sarah Campbell

Friday, October 26, 2007

...I can hear her breathing.

Today I received an email from someone who had a wonderful quote from Arundati Roy as a tagline to her signature. I wept when I first read it, and I've been thinking about it all day, so decided to share it here.

"The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling...their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability. Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them. Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing."

Yes, I hear her breathing, too. You?

Green blessings,


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Herb Classes at Radiance!

So, Tina & I have been working on scheduling a series of herb classes! Here are the classes for October & a sneak preview at November. I'll keep adding more classes as we schedule them, so come back often to check!

Essential Oils and Hydrosols to Know, with a Distillation Demonstration
We’ll talk about several essential oils that are useful for health, well-being, and a happy home. Afterwards there will be a distillation demonstration in a clear glass still, allowing you to see how the oils are made and give you an idea of why they are so costly. We’ll also discuss hydrosols, by-products of distillation that are rapidly becoming the new aromatherapy must-haves. Most people are familiar with rose water and witch hazel hydrosols, but there are many more with great applications. Participants will each take home an ounce of hydrosol. $25 per person
Talk and demonstration by Tina Sams, editor of the Essential Herbal
Weds., October 17th. 2:00 to 3:30 pm

Herb Cordials
Learn to make delicious cordials with herbs, spices, and fruits. We’ll taste test a few combinations, and then each start a cordial to take home. And you’ll have plenty of time to concoct more cordials for holiday gifts! Must be 21 to take this class. $25 includes all materials
Sarah Campbell and Jen Frey will facilitate this class
Tues, October 23 from 6:30 to about 8:30

All Hallows Eve
A discussion of some witching herbs used through time, some talk of traditions and we’ll create hags tapers. We’ll have a meditation on our loved ones who have passed before us. Attendees wear black, please. Join Sarah Campbell, Jen Frey, and Tina Sams for this special evening. $25 per person.
Tues., October 30 from 6 – 8 p.m.

All classes at Radiance, 9 W Grant St, Lancaster, across from Central Market
Class size is limited. Call 290-1517 to register.

Upcoming classes: Herbal Bead-Making, Sat., Nov 3 from 2-3pm
Handmade Herbal Incense, Thurs., Nov 8 from 12-1pm
Infused Oils & Salves, Tues., Nov 13 from 5:30-7:30pm
Herb Butters & Dips, Wed., Nov 21 from 12-1pm
Bath Salts/Herbs/Oils, Sat., Dec 1 from 2-4pm

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Stocking up for Winter - it must be coming

Today I was checking my email & Tina at the Essential Herbal list had asked everyone to write in about what they make/do to be herbally prepared for winter. What a good question! And so timely - I hope. I has still been in the upper 80's every afternoon here in Pennsylvania. And no rain for nearly 2 months. A bit frightening.

Well, anyway, here's what I wrote back to the list & I thought it might be helpful to others, too!

Hmmm. Well, I can't imagine getting through a winter without echinecea tincture.

And Astragalus root tincture. At home, we take it every day from Fall Equinox through Spring Equinox. It helps to build our immune systems & make our lungs stronger. We also drink Ashwagandha tea every evening after it gets cold. Also to make us stronger so we can repel the colds we are exposed to.

I used to go to Ithaca NY every September to harvest wild Elderberries, but now I grow my own. I freeze the berries so that I can make Elderberry syrup all winter. Sometimes it seems like I need a new batch every week! It's one of my most popular winter time items in the shop. Last weekend at the Mother Earth Harvest Festival, I sold out of all the bottles I'd brought on the first day. Yipes. I think it's time to double the size of the recipe again.

I also make something called Dragon's Breath. Lots of herbalists make some version of it - cider vinegar infused with garlic, onions, hot peppers, horseradish, etc. It fights the cold germs & opens your sinuses right up!

I almost forgot the Wild Cherry Cough Syrup! Wild Cherry bark, licorice & mullein. Yum. And for those coughs that just won't stop - Valerian root tincture.

So, here it is, October already! Time to get ready for winter.

Green blessings,

Monday, September 24, 2007

Harvesting the Comfrey!

Today was the day. The last of this year's Comfrey leaves were harvested this morning. We've had temperatures dipping into the 40's a couple of times already, and Comfrey leaves can't take the cold. As soon as they are touched by frost, they turn to black slime. But today, it looked so pretty & I know this is going to make some wonderful Boo Boo Balm! I'll save some of the dried leaves for tea - just in case there are any broken bones or anything. It's better to be prepared, right? Anyway, here's a picture of the comfrey this morning, before the harvest. The comfrey is the large leaves in the foreground, in case you aren't familiar with it. The fence in the background surrounds my compost piles. Comfrey is a wonderful addition to compost, too! It makes the compost break down more quickly as well as adding all sorts of wonderful nutrients. When I harvest it, I take all of the lovely leaves from the top for making herbal products, & put the lower leaves (which have been touching the ground) into the compost. It's a perfect plan. In addition to using comfrey in my Boo Boo Balm, I put some in my Nettle Shampoo. It's a wonderful healer.

After gently harvesting all of the leaves, my helper, Kate & I strung a line of twine across the front of the garden shed to use as a drying rack. The shed is shaded most of the day & we aren't getting any rain for the rest of the week (I think), so I decided to risk an outdoor drying. We sat on the patio, & using needle & orange thread, so I could see it easily, we looped two or three leaves loosely together through the stems & then carefully draped them over the line of twine.
You might not think so to look at comfrey, but it's actually fairly delicate! It bruises easily, so you really need to handle it with care.
After Kate & I got the comfrey all hung up to dry, we worked on weeding and pruning in the labyrinth garden, but I didn't take any photos of that. Hopefully in a couple of weeks it will be in good enough shape to show you. And I can hardly wait to be able to walk the path again.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sarah's Berry Compote

Lately I’ve been making a berry compote, which is a creation I concocted myself when the local blueberries finally came in season. It’s delicious on everything, so far as I can tell! I’ve mostly used it as part of dessert - on yogurt, ice cream or pound cake. Last night I served it on Lemon Poppy seed cake. I’ve put it on our breakfast oatmeal, & am thinking of putting it on scrambled eggs!

Here’s the recipe.

Sarah’s Berry Compote

In a large saucepan put:
1/2 cup water
1/8 cup honey or raw sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 pints fresh blueberries
1/8 cup amaretto liquor or 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook for 20 minutes or so, until it thickens some. If you’ve used amaretto liquor, the alcohol will evaporate, leaving the almond flavoring.

Add 1 pint blackberries or raspberries. Stir gently. Turn off the heat & let the compote cool slightly. It will thicken more as it cools.

Spoon warm compote over whatever your heart desires. Add a sprig of fresh mint and serve!
Can be reheated, but don’t bring to a boil since the blackberries/raspberries are so delicate.

Green blessings,

Into the Wild Wood

Here I am after the Faerie Festival - Lisa Farrell is the most wonderful face painter ever!