The Spring Simple Living Collection is here!

I’m delighted today to introduce the latest Simple Living Collection. Because now more than ever, the desire to slow down, reconnect, create more joy, and savor family life stirs deep within us.

Join me—along with a group of experts from across the globe—as we share the spring issue of The Simple Living Collection.

Along with my shrubs recipe collection (also known as “drinking vinegars), you’ll dive into over 40 tutorials, patterns, recipes, stories, and more. Projects and activities are included for all ages and every corner of the world.

The collection includes 7 categories:
– Create
– Grow
– Nourish
– Raise
– Wildcraft
– Family
– Healthy Home

Our spring issue is only available through March 22nd for $25 (valued at $550). With over 40 creators sharing their tried and true skills, everything from baking dandelion muffins, to learning to raise quail, to celebrating the spring equinox is packed inside. Creating nature shelves, growing a sunflower house, learning how to make a keyhole garden, making butterflies to hang in the window, plant life cycle stories, making rain gauges, green cleaners, crocheting, foraging, and so much more are tucked inside this digital collection!

Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to slow down, savor family life, and learn new skills! Find it all right here.

Fermented Fruit Chutney Recipe

When we were in Ireland a couple of years ago, I stumbled upon Spoonful Botanicals, an intriguing fermented fruit-and-herb spread. Designed to be anti-inflammatory (and delicious) I was so tempted, but at €30.00 per jar it was way outside of my budget.

After we returned home I kept thinking about it and wishing I had been able to pick up a jar. I did a bit of researched and realized that fermented chutneys are commonplace in India, and searched around for a recipe to experiment with making my own.

Using a Nourishing Traditions raisin chutney recipe as my jumping-off point, I set to work grinding and fermenting aromatics and dried fruit.

Two days later, I cracked the jar, took a taste, and swooned. Oh, yes. This is just what I expected from the boughten, Irish version–and then some. It was spicy, sweet, and exactly what my body craved. I was hooked.

Is it a chutney? A fruity spread? I have no idea. Make a batch, then call it what you will. I won’t lie: it’s not beautiful, but the taste makes up for the appearances. (I promise!)

Why fermented foods?

Lactofermentation provides important probiotics to the digestive system. We make a habit of eating them daily: homemade Beet Kvass, sauerkraut, ginger carrots, and more. This spicy, fruity spread offered one more delicious way to included probiotics in our diet.

Anti-inflammatory Herbal Allies

Lately I’ve been experiencing more joint pain than I’d like. (I suppose any is more than I’d like, but this is quite a bit.) So I’m doing my best to limit inflammatory foods like sugar and refined grains, and to incorporate anti-inflammatory herbs in my diet each day.

A daily dose of ginger, turmeric, black pepper, and other allies is already going into in my morning tea, and I drink a shot of tart cherry juice most nights. But adding more anti-inflammatory foods and herbs felt like a smart decision.

This fruity-sweet ferment includes turmeric, pepper, and ginger–warming anti-inflammatories that can help alleviate joint pain. And it’s so delicious that after surprising Lupine with a taste on a bite of whole-grain pancakes yesterday, she dipped into the jar and spread a generous amount on her next helping. “It’s so good that I’m taking more on purpose.”

Approved.

Ready to whip up a batch? It goes together in a snap and will keep for weeks in the fridge once fermented (if you don’t gobble it up before that.)

Fermented Fruit Chutney Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup raisins
  • 3 Tb ground turmeric (or 3 Tb fresh ground turmeric and 2 Tb ground)
  • 1 Tb fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp black pepper, freshly ground (fine)
  • 3/4 C hot water
  • 2″ knob fresh ginger (peel on), grated
  • 3/4 C dried dates
  • scant 1 1/4 tsp salt (divided)

Directions

  1. Combine raisins, turmeric, black pepper, and fennel in a stainless steel or glass mixing bowl. Avoid plastic or other materials that may stain from turmeric.
  2. Add 3/4 C very warm water (approximately 100 to 120° F) water and stir to combine. Cover and allow to soak for 1 to three hours.
  3. Meanwhile, combine fresh, unpeeled ginger with pitted dates plus 1 scant teaspoon salt in the bowl of your food processor. Process until a smooth, sticky paste results.
  4. After raisin mixture has soaked and raisins have plumped somewhat, transfer the mix along with any remaining soaking liquid to the ginger and date mix in the the processor. Pulse for several minutes until desired consistency is achieved. (I like mine as a spread so it’s fairly smooth, but chunkier is fine, too.)
  5. Transfer paste to a suitably sized glass jar (I used a pint), allowing at least 1″ of headroom. Tap jar gently on the counter, then insert a butter knife to remove any large air bubbles and tap again. Smooth the top surface of your paste with the knife.
  6. In a separate container, combine 1/4 tsp salt with 1/4 C warm water. Stir to dissolve, then pour gently over the top of your dried fruit mix, completely covering the surface of the chutney. Discard any extra brine that doesn’t fit in the jar.
  7. Tightly seal and set on a stain-proof plate or bowl. Allow to ferment at room temperature (out of direct sunlight) for 2 days.
  8. After two days, open your jar over the sink, just in case any brine spills out. (The jar may be slightly pressurized from fermentation. A satisfying “pssssshhht!” sound is perfectly normal and not a cause for alarm.) Most of your brine will have been drawn down into the fruit mix, but if any surface brine remains, pour it off into the sink.
  9. Stir well, sneak a taste, then refrigerate.
  10. Allow to mellow for a few days if desired, then spread on crackers, pancakes, waffles, apple slices, or toast, or stir into hot porridge.

Fermented chutney will keep for three months or more in the refrigerator.

The Winter Simple Living Collection

So many of you joined me this fall when I shared the Autumn Simple Living Bundle with you. This fabulous resource was just what the season called for, inviting us to slow down and savor the turning of the year. 

In my life, winter invites slowness more than any other season, encouraging us to breathe into the stillness and find a little bit of ourselves hidden within. Winter inspires my family to hunker down with warming recipes, lingering days, and cozy projects to bring light into the darkness.

And with all that in mind, I’m delighted to announce that The Winter Issue of The Simple Living Collection is here!

Now more than ever, the desire to slow down, reconnect, create more joy, and savor family life stirs deep within us. I have gathered together with a group of inspiring writers and creators from across the globe for this seasonal family resource that will inspire us to do just that.

What makes this collection special? Within these pages, you will find:

  • a blueprint to craft a life filled with lasting memories, new skills, and deeper connections.
  • 40+ products including e-books, tutorials, patterns, recipes, stories, and so much more!
  • materials for all ages
  • resources to use no matter where you call home

Contributions are organized in 7 curated categories: 

  • Create
  • Grow
  • Nourish
  • Raise
  • Wildcraft
  • Family
  • Healthy Home

Our winter issue is only available through December 7th and is just $25 (valued at around $550). With over 30 creators sharing their passions and gifts, you’ll discover everything from learning to cook on a wood stove, to making mullein candles, to celebrating the winter solstice, to my own contribution: homemade golden milk and tips for sweetest dreams.

You’ll also discover tree tapping, nourishing soups, seasonal tea time, winter nature tables, solstice countdown stories, winter foraging, herbal salves, needle felting, winter wreaths, and so much more are tucked inside this digital collection.

Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to slow down, savor family life, and learn new skills. This year more than ever, we’re being invited to reinvent how we live, and this booklet is ready to be your guide.

The Simple Living Winter Collection would make an inspiring holiday gift for kids or grownups alike who are facing a long winter at home this year.

Are you ready to craft a life that’s slower, more intentional, and rich with simple pleasures? Me, too. I can’t wait to hear how this collection shapes your family for seasons to come.

Find the Winter Collection here, but only for a limited time. Available now through December 7.

What is your favorite slow, winter tradition? Share below!

Rosemary & Lemon or Ginger & Cardamom Soda Syrup Recipes

Holidays are looking distinctively low-key this year. Unable to travel to see my family due to common-sense covid protocol, it’s just us, hunkered down here at home.

In an attempt to make things still feel special this season, we’re throwing both old and new traditions in our winter holiday mix. And some fancy fizzies seem like just the thing to cultivate a more festive feel, even if we’re just hanging out at home.

With that in mind, I improvised the two soda syrup recipes below last night, and today Lupine and I are having a hard time not drinking them all before dinner time. Making them takes almost no active time, so get on it! If your family celebrates Thanksgiving, you can get these made easily with time to spare for tonight’s meal. (And if you wait until the last minute, just double down on the herbs and spices quantities, and steep for just 10 to 20 minutes instead of 2 hours, then quick-chill in the freezer.)

Amounts are so forgiving and flexible! I only measured because I wanted to share with you. Feel free to go rogue and wing it, throwing in your own favorite aromatics like thyme or sage, coriander or clove, grapefruit or lime.

Recipes follow!

Rosemary & Lemon Soda Syrup Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup honey or sugar
  • 1 tbsp dried rosemary
  • 12 whole peppercorns
  • zest of 1 lemon (optional)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Instructions

  • Place all ingredients except lemon juice in a small cooking pot.
  • Place over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved.
  • Bring mixture to a vigorous simmer, then cover and remove from heat. 
  • Steep for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight.
  • Strain and transfer to a 1/2 pint jar. 
  • For rosemary syrup, add lemon juice and stir to combine.
  • Refrigerate until chilled.

Ginger & Cardamom Soda Syrup

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup honey, sugar, or maple syrup
  • 2″ knob of fresh ginger, sliced or smashed
  • 1 tsp cardamom seeds or 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Instructions

  • Place all ingredients in a small cooking pot.
  • Place over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved.
  • Bring mixture to a vigorous simmer, then cover and remove from heat. 
  • Steep for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight.
  • Strain and transfer to a 1/2 pint jar. 
  • For rosemary syrup, add lemon juice and stir to combine.
  • Refrigerate until chilled.

To use, add a splash to fizzy water, and serve over ice (we like approximately 1 tbsp per cup). 

We can do hard things

During my second week of high school, I lost my battle against worsening scoliosis and was fitted with a back brace–the thing I’d been desperate to avoid since the 4th grade.

Made of leather and steel, my brace was a medieval thing that fit from chin to pelvis, holding my stock-straight (If you image search “Milwaukee Brace” you’ll see what this monster looked like. It’s pretty intense.).

I wore it day and night–to school, at home–even to sleep. I remember going to the theater (wearing my brace) to see Sixteen Candles with some friends shortly after I was fitted with it. There’s a girl in the film who wears a brace–a super nerdy kid, of course–and she’s drinking from the water fountain. Everyone in the theater was laughing except for me, simultaneously embarrassed & annoyed (as she impossibly bent at the waist to drink–such rubbish) while feeling deep shame for being that nerdy kid, & burning from their laughter.

Drinking fountains–like cars, sleep, and being a teenager in general–were all more difficult in a brace. But that was my adolescence. Uncomfortable, awkward, and harder than I wanted it to be.

In all, I was braced for 5 years, from the start of high school through my freshman year of college. And while a brace isn’t something I’d wish upon anyone, it was one of my most important teachers.

Because the truth is, we can all do hard things–things we’re certain we aren’t capable of.

Things we don’t want, and things we try to wish away. I suppose even now that lesson holds, some thirty years later.

Right now, life is damn hard—for so many of us, and for so many reasons. None of us wanted this, & none of us know how long it’s going to last, nor how long we can take it. And I can so relate to that feeling.

2020 is something of a collective back brace for us all. We’re doing the hard, uncomfortable, painful thing because we don’t have another choice. And sometimes it pinches, & sometimes we can’t sleep because we feel like we’re suffocating, & sometimes it brings us to tears when we least want it to. But in the end, we’re going to come out the other side stronger, more resilient, and even better for it in small, invisible ways. I’m certain of that. I really am.

I’m rooting for you, friend. This sucks, but please know you’re not alone.

Homemade Fire Cider Recipe

I joked yesterday on social media that I’m going to have Sage (18) caption all of my photographs going forward.

This one? “I don’t know what you’re making in here, but it smells disgusting.”

Because, well, fire cider.

If you’re new to fire cider, I’m betting that this probably isn’t the most compelling sales pitch ever. But this witchy, pungent infusion is an incredible seasonal immune tonic. And funky scent or not, I’m betting that’s something we all could use in spades right now.

To set the record straight, Sage despises apple cider vinegar in any form. So that’s the main bit of trouble with fire cider for him. Layer over that the smell of sliced, fresh horseradish punching him in the nose when he walked in the room, and he just couldn’t do it. To me, on the other hand, it smells delicious, nourishing, and like fierce immunity magic in a jar.

Which, of course, it is.

Made with fresh onions and garlic, horseradish and aromatics, fire cider is spirited, spicy, pungent, and warming. This immune-supporting marvel is made with fresh herbs and aromatics, it’s just the kick our bodies need to stay healthy during this most challenging time. It takes just minutes to prep enough to last the winter, with extra bottles to pass along to friends. Will you make a big batch this weekend to share with those you love?

Don’t wait. Make it now, and it won’t be ready until early December.

Go rogue

Don’t let the specific ingredients or quantities listed in the recipe below limit your creative flex.

If you’re out of cayenne and want to add fresh chilis (like I did in the jar pictured below), go for it. If you’re vegan and want to sub maple for honey, knock yourself out. If you’re not eating alliums, cut them from the list; then boost the quantities of the other ingredients a bit to make up for the missing oniony-punch.

Because every herbalist has their own favorite fire cider formula, and there’s no right or wrong way to do it. This recipe just happens to be mine.

Homemade Fire Cider Recipe

Makes approximately 3 pints

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup chopped fresh ginger root (approximately 1 oz.)
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh horseradish root
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (approximately ½ cup) 
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon dried cayenne powder
  • 2 tbsp rose hips (optional)
  • 2 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp dried sage
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • ¼ cup raw honey
  • 3 cups (plus extra if needed) organic raw apple cider vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lemon (at bottling time)

Instructions

Place finely chopped or grated vegetables, and dried herbs in a quart-sized mason jar. Add honey, then top off with enough apple cider vinegar to fill the jar to just above the shoulders (approximately 3 cups). 

Stir well, then cover with a plastic lid or a metal lid lined with waxed paper or a food-grade plastic bag. 

Infuse for 4 weeks in a cool, dark place, shaking gently once a week, or any time you think of it. 

After 4 weeks pour your fire cider through a cheesecloth-lined colander and transfer liquid to a clean mason jar. Add lemon juice, and label with date and contents. Stored in the refrigerator, Fire Cider will keep for at least 1 year.

To Use

Take 1 tsp to 1 tbsp daily for adults; ½ to 1 tsp for children, throughout cold and flu season. Stir into a cup of room temperature water, cold juice, or (for the bravest among us!) take right from the spoon or shot glass.

Note

Fire Cider may cause stomach upset in people with heartburn, acid reflux, or indigestion.

Rosemary Gladstar

And finally, my (and most of the world’s) inspiration for my fire cider recipe is the lovely Rosemary. If you’d enjoy a how-to video of this simple process, her’s is below. I adore Rosemary, and if you don’t already, this video should be all that it takes for you to join me in the herb-nerd fan club.

Now get busy and make a quart or two for yourself, your family, your friends, and your neighborhood!

Together, we can find our way back to our roots, back to handmade and homemade, back to effective remedies made from what we have.


Be well, friends. We’re all in this together.

Rachel

A childhood’s worth of pictures

Eighteen years.

We’ve been wrangling this kid into Pete’s old leather jacket each autumn for the past eighteen years (and his sister into her great-grandma’s fringed jacket for fourteen). Oh, how slippery time is.

On Sage’s first birthday, we wrapped him up in an adult-sized jacket (a thrift store find that belonged to Pete) and snapped a picture for posterity.

A friend had suggested the tradition, to mark time by capturing your child growing into the garment as they approached adulthood. Hopelessly sentimental, I was all in the moment she shared it with me, and knew it would be the one consistent thing I did to mark time.

We repeated the shoot each year, and when Lupine was born, she got a jacket of her own (my grandma’s vintage buckskin fringe).

Year after year, all childhood long, this is what we‘ve done. I bribe them with ice cream each autumn, they don the jackets, and we head outside. In the absence of school pictures, we have these. How glad I am.

And this year… well, this year was big. Because Sage isn’t a child anymore. He’s old enough to vote (his first vote being this critical election, quite possibly our most important homeschooling lesson of all).

I expect this is the final jacket picture year featuring them both.

Oh, my heart. What a ride it has been.

How do you mark time and the growing of your kids?

Ireland herbal retreat dreams

Just for fun, want to dream with me?

A few days ago on Instagram I posted:

“New plan. When we can safely travel again, you come to Ireland with me on an herbal retreat. We tour off-the-beaten-path stone circles and burial tombs; connect with and learn from local herbalists, storytellers, and organic farmers; forage wild things; plant some trees; hike to some magical mossy groves; and ground out deeply on the Emerald Isle. Who’s game for this plan? ( She asks, fully lost in the dream/fantasy realm…)”

And your enthusiasm? Well, it was off the charts.

As it turns out, I’m not the only one who is dreaming of traveling again someday, of connecting with a small, intimate group of people, of going deeper into magic and medicine, history and her-story.

In short, I’m not alone in absolutely swooning over this idea.

And the more I thought about it (and quite literally dreamed of it), the more I felt like this is something that we could actually create. That I could plan this and together we could breathe it into life.

And I can’t get enough of this plan.

As many of you will recall, we spend a month in Ireland a few years back, and then another 5 weeks there just last fall. (You can browse a few of my blog “postcards” here if you’re curious to see more.) Our travels tend to be quiet, magical, historical, and very much off-the-beaten-path, with gems like isolated waterfalls, beaches strewn with polished, semi-precious stones, and stone circles far from the tourist travel rings around the island.

We forage wild things for tea and soup, make our own sea salt, and crawl deep into sacred tombs. And there is so much yet to be discovered!

So. Who’s game to dream this little dream with me? For a future day, when we can travel once more? We’ll even plant trees as a carbon-offset for our flights there and back again.

If you’re down with this fantasy (even a little bit), be sure to add your name to the email list below so you can hear about any plans that I post here on the blog (if you haven’t already).

And if you, like me, are literally dreaming of making this journey, then double down and drop an email to my Herbal Retreat mailbox, and ask me to add you to my retreat email list (that one I only send out herbal classes, gatherings, or book-related emails, so don’t fret–I won’t spam you). That way you’ll be the very first to hear as things begin taking shape (and perhaps you’ll even share an idea or to that will help to plan our path on this transformative adventure).

Because now more than ever, we need to make space for dreams. We need to thumb through our calendars and feel our chests swell with hope for all of the promise of a brighter, kinder, more deeply connected future for us all.

One full of the sort of adventures and relationships and experiences that will shape who we become… forever.

Love,
Rachel

The Autumn Simple Living Collection

When my friend Allyson asked me if I might join her in creating a fall content bundle for families focused on slow, simple living I was all in. A collection crafted from the minds, hearts, and hands of a community of homeschoolers, farmers, parents, artists, and makers, coming together to pool their wisdom and experience, in the form of a rich bundle of tutorials, instructions, inspiration, recipes, and projects.

I mean honestly. How could I resist?

And so I said yes. Of course I did.

And watching this bundle take shape during the past many weeks has been nothing short of a joy.

Because now more than ever, the desire to slow down, reconnect, create more joy, and savor family life stirs deep within our essence.

Will you join me, along with a carefully curated community of experts from around the globe as we present to you our very first Simple Living Collection?

A blueprint to a life full of lasting memories, new skills, and deeper connections.

From my own contribution around foraging with children to a step-by-step tutorial for painting barn quilts, beekeeping and cast iron cooking, this incredible collection will help you and your family find deeper connection and meaning during these uncertain days.

– 35+ products including e-books, tutorials, patterns, recipes, stories, & more
– materials for all ages
– materials that can be used worldwide

7 carefully curated categories:
– Create
– Grow
– Nourish
– Raise
– Wildcraft
– Family
– Healthy Home

Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to slow down, savor family life, and learn new skills.

All of the details on the bundle can be found here, including projects like:

Create

– Autumn leaf doll
– Painted barn quilt tutorial
– Circle weaving coaster
– Crochet basics- beginners guide
– Driftwood boat tutorial
– Finger knitting for beginners
– Gathering basket tutorial
– Make your own charcoal tutorial

Family
– Creating an ancestor feast
– Autumn storytelling
– Magical tea time e-book

Grow
– Extending the growing season
– Guide to permaculture principles
– The fall garden

Healthy Home
– Autumn wellness
– Fire cider collection
– Healing calendula salve
– Medicinal plants and herbs study
– Soap making guide

Nourish
– Autumn beet salad recipe
– Cooking with cast iron
– Grain milling guide
– Pantry preserves for beginners
– Sourdough for beginners

Raise
– A beekeeper’s year
– Chicken unit study
– Duck unit study

Wildcraft
– Children’s foraging bag tutorial
– Foraging with children e-book
– Wild berries unit study

So. Will you join me? I truly believe this bundles offers something rich for each and every family.

Find all the delicious details here.