hello-goodbye! (we’re off to summer camp)

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Just popping in for a lightening-fast hello and goodbye before we dash off to camp, which begins in just two days.

Lupine and I have been busy (so busy!) packing herbs, supplies, recipes, and craft projects for the weekend – and crossing our fingers that this as much fun for everyone (us included) as we think it will be.

Oh, my. This is going to be delightful! 

Wishing you all a wonderful rest of your week and a glorious weekend, wherever life takes you. And… wish us luck! 

 

 

Save the date! Autumn Women’s Herbal Retreat

I know. It's barely spring. But I thought a little "save the date" teaser was in order…

Because we're gathering on the shores of Lake Superior once more! 

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I've reserved the Lake Superior Barn for an Autumn Women's Herbal Retreat and I would love to have you join me. We'll gather from October 26 through 29th to explore the South Shore, relax in The Barn with a community of kindred spirits, and learn much about herbs and handmade remedies. 

I don't have any retreats yet planned for 2018, so if you've been hoping to join me this would be the time. (There is a chance that I'll do more, but I haven't committed yet. Honestly, I'm unsure as to how many retreats I will be able to fill in the long-term. Are you a small pool of interested ladies who love Clean or love LüSa or love what I write for Taproot? Have most of you who were interested already attended? I'd love to keep at it, but I really have no idea how long such a venture is sustainable. Talk to me!)

I'm taking it one step at a time, and one retreat at a time at this stage. But this one? It's written in pen on my calendar. We're doing it. And I would love to have you there to share in the experience.

To sign up for the herbal retreat mailing list all you have to do is drop me an email. I'll send you an invitation when registration opens.

 

Some words from participants from the Spring 2017 retreat:

"This retreat was everything I dreamed it would be and more. Because how often do your dreams become reality? Rachel's warm and gentle spirit permeated the whole experience. Her wisdom is priceless. We shared an amazing fellowship, phenomenal food, and learned lifelong skills as well as took away a remarkable amount of herbal remedies! So grateful for the experience and cannot wait to do it again!"

and…

"The herbal retreat was incredibly relaxing and fulfilling and the food provided was amazing, wholesome, and nourishing. The herbal information provided was invaluable. This is the information your grandmother and mother would have given you centuries ago, but here you are, in a company of beautiful women, learning it midway through life. It is wonderful, uplifting, freeing, and will forever be in your heart and mind."

 

You can read more about past retreats here and here.

So… who wants to join me? 

 

 

 

Spring Herbal Retreat

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Oh, goodness. Where to begin! I returned last night after the Spring Women's Herbal Retreat both exhausted and elated. The weekend exceeded my expectations in every way – primarily on account of the ladies who came together to share in the experience.

This group of thirteen kindred spirits arrived from across the midwest, from as far as Ohio, Illinois, and distant parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota. Throughout our three days together we listened to each other's stories, learned with (and from) one another, laughed uproariously, and quietly refilled our cups with this mindful pause from our day-to-day lives.

Truly, this group of women gelled beyond my wildest expectations and I was so grateful for the insights and gifts that each woman brought to our gathering. 

My friend Kate from 608 Community Supported Kitchen prepared exquisite organic meals for us each day (so much delicious food!) that everyone agreed was a highlight of the weekend. When we weren't enjoying/over-eating/gushing over Kate's food and treats, we were delving into equal parts hands-on herbal medicine making and self-indulgent down time. It was the just right balance of learning and relaxing.

Oh, and that medicine-making! At the end of the weekend even I was amazed at how much each participant had crafted to bring home – there several herbal balms, some tea blends, and plenty of tinctures, herbal oils, decoctions, syrups, and sprays. (Off the top of my head.)

As the weekend ended, emails and phone numbers were exchanged, and one by one we said goodbye and headed back to our families and our day-to-day lives.

After the last guest left I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the magic that happens when women come together to learn, share, and play. And I was thankful for the role that I was able to play to help bring this group together.

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I’m off!

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I have so many things to share with you – from the latest Taproot to a couple of just-cast-off knitting projects, some homeschooling reflections, homesteading updates, and other projects in the works.

But all of that will have to wait! Because tomorrow marks the start of the Spring Women's Herbal Retreat.

That means that today is devoted to last minute class preparations and loading my car to the roof with herbs and supplies. And also asking myself questions like: "Is too much coffee (or butter) even a thing?" or "I hope I don't get pulled over with all these random bags of herbs in my trunk, alongside this case of brandy and hard to explain bundles of tree branches." 

I'm so excited for another long weekend with another inspiring group of women to learn from and share with. Bring it on, Spring Retreat! We're ready. 

I'll be sharing a few photos of what we create on my personal and business Instagram feeds throughout the weekend. If you're curious about what we'll be mixing up feel free to follow along!

 

Now. Wish we luck for another beautiful, magical weekend of plants, medicine making, and women. 

Love,
Rachel

 

 

Retreat last call

February 23 Update

We have just two beds remaining for the spring retreat! Details follow. I'd love to have you join us. 

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I promise to stop with the retreat talk in just a moment! But today is the last day for registration for our spring gathering.

I'm hoping to have the last remaining slots filled soon! 

And while I can't speak for you, the idea of mindfully gathering and learning these ancient skills feels resonant with me now more than ever.

To gather with community, forge friendships, learn from one another, and develop skills to care for our families with what nature provides? Now feels like the perfect time.

If you'd still like to join us just drop me a note and I'll send you an official invitation. This spring we'll be gathering in a new location and I'm excited to be adding a guided plant walk to our weekend agenda as well, so we can hopefully forage some plants for a few of our recipes.

Below are a few favorite moments from the first retreat that we held in November on the shore of Lake Superior.

I can feel my shoulders soften just looking at these. What a wonderful three days it was! 

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Ah, yes. What a delightful and lovely weekend it was. I can't wait to do it again next month!

Two quick notes

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Just popping in with two quick pieces of business!

First, a heartfelt thanks. Your words yesterday were so kind and understanding. Thank you for sharing your voices here. It means more than you know.

And second, the Spring Herbal Retreat is beginning to fill. Hooray! We have just seven beds left – and I'm saving one for you.

If you did not receive your invitation please let me know by email and I'll send it out again.

This retreat is shaping up to be as lovely as the last, and I can't wait to gather with you.

 

Love,
Rachel

 

A spring retreat

LüSa Organics Herbal Retreat: spring 2017

The Spring 2017 Women's Herbal Retreat is officially scheduled! And I can hardly wait.

Like our first ever retreat last autumn, this gathering will be a small group of kindred spirits coming together to create community and learn about plants, remedies, and how to care for our family's health with the bounty of the earth. 
 
Though our primary focus will be on making medicines and discovering the power of herbs, there will be ample time to explore the Wisconsin woods, relax in the sauna, and visit with new friends over a cup of coffee or tea.
 
Each participant will learn about herbs as we work together making a variety of remedies – from teas and tinctures to salves and syrups. These remedies will go home with you, along with the knowledge (and written recipes and instructions) for making them again and again.
 
We will enjoy home-cooked nourishing meals, the beauty of springtime, and the magic that happens when women gather.
 
If you're interested in learning more please send me an email at retreat@lusaorganics.com with the subject line of "women's herbal retreat" and I will send you a personal invitation with additional details today! If you already signed up, please check your inbox as invitations went out yesterday to those who had already requested information.
 
Looking forward to gathering with you!
 
Warmly,
Rachel

LüSa Organics Herbal Retreat: spring 2017

"This was, hands down, the BEST THING I EVER DID!! Spending 3+ days learning about herbal medicine; making tinctures and teas, balms and bitters, syrups and oils; meeting inspirational and like-minded wonderful women; eating incredible, healthy meals; all in an amazing setting[…]!" ~ D.Z.

"The retreat was a perfect get away to relax and learn!" ~ J.B.
 

Get well soon! (five steps to kick that cold)

I had every intention of being productive today. I even set an alarm. (Something I've only done a handful of times in the past decade.) And, well, a solid two hours after my alarm went off I finally stumbled out of bed to attempt to start my day.

Uffda.

The holiday season is funny that way, isn't it? We race into it head-long at full speed and are spat out at the other end tired, disoriented, overfed, and sometimes sick. As for me, I was doing great until Christmas day. But after our last family celebration was wrapping up I noticed my ear had started aching and I was irrationally tired. I knew what was coming.

I suspect I'm not the only one. The pre-holiday hustle, the stress of travel, our questionable food choices, and a string of late nights leaves our immune system depleted.

No wonder so many of us are feeling run down right now.

And so I thought I would share with you what my method had been to bounce back, in hopes that it might help some of you come out from under your early winter bug as well.

Grab some tea, snuggle under your favorite quilt and read on!

Get well soon! {A cold and flu season recipe round-up} Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

Get Well Soon! Five simple steps to feeling better fast.

1. Rest

Lots and lots of rest.

That means falling asleep early and staying in bed as late as you can. It means taking it easy during the day. (I haven't thrown a hay bale since Christmas and won't until probably tomorrow.)

For me, a comfy chair, quilt, and basket of knitting beside the fire helps. A lot.

Get well soon! {A cold and flu season recipe round-up} Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

2. Chicken Broth/Stock

I have been sipping cups of bone broth for days on end. It's my magic potion for getting well in a hurry.

My basic recipe is can be found here. (And no need to pressure can! You can keep it in the freezer if that's more your speed.)

Get well soon! {A cold and flu season recipe round-up} Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

3. Herbal tinctures

I think simple, homemade tinctures are the best medicines of all. Our family makes many different kinds each season and we rely on them throughout out the year to support our health. Currently I am taking elderberry, echinacea (my recipe is from this booklet), and astragalus tinctures.

If you haven't made tinctures before you won't believe how simple it can be! My recipe and instructions for homemade elderberry tincture can be found here.

Also yes, I give alcohol-based tinctures to children. A single child-sized dose of tincture contains less alcohol than a ripe banana. So I simply don't fret about it.

Get well soon! {A cold and flu season recipe round-up} Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

4. Stay hydrated

Warm drinks are key. Herbal tea and hot toddies are my top picks to deliver good medicine while helping us stay hydrated.

My hot toddy recipe – with variations from the most simple to more complex – can be found right over here. If you're choosing a purchased herbal tea blend, find one to match your symptoms. (There are teas for a plethora of conditions. We love the Traditional Medicinals brand.)

 Get well soon! {A cold and flu season recipe round-up} Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

5. Treat your symptoms

Body aches? Epsom salt baths and arnica muscle rub/massage oil both work magic on soreness. Also try a hot water bottle tucked up against an aching back or sore neck.

Earache? You can't beat garlic ear oil. I shared this recipe years ago (along with a few other holistic earache remedies), though the one I used this weekend I made with garlic and mullein flowers.

If you'd like I will share a recipe for it during the next mullein flower season. Do let me know if that interests you!

Get well soon! {A cold and flu season recipe round-up} Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

Sore Throat? Those toddies work wonders; so does gargling hot salt water. My preferred remedy for sore throat is homemade Monarda tonic. Made with just wild bee balm, raw honey, and brandy it soothes sore throats in a hurry. (I will bring you a recipe during next summer's Wonderfully Wild series and link here when it's available.)

Fever? Try Belladona 12 c homeopathic remedy. This along with our homemade fever tea and the other wellness steps above are our best defense. To make the tea, combine equal arts dried elder flowers, catnip, and peppermint leaf.

We keep a jar of this blend on hand just for fevers.

Get well soon! {A cold and flu season recipe round-up} Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

Cough? I can't sing the praises of this remedy enough. If you don't have elecampane on hand I urge you to pick some up now and have this remedy ready for your next round of coughs. It works like magic. I also shared two herbal cough syrup recipes in the Herbal Apothecary booklet, one for day and one for night. Both are simple to make and work wonders on persistent coughs. (All proceeds from Herbal Apothecary sales are currently being donated to ease the crisis of Syrian refugees.)

And with that, I have a cozy spot next to the fire that's calling me.

Rest up, friends. Get well soon!

Love,
Rachel

Originally posted in 2015.

When all feels hopeless

When all feels hopeless : : Clean : : Rachel Wolf

When all feels hopeless : : Clean : : Rachel Wolf

In the past few weeks many people have mentioned turning away from current events. They are powering off the news and social media. Because it's all too much.

From Syria to Standing Rock; elections to the environment – it's been too much to bear.

The fear.

The anger.

Anxiety and grief.

We feel powerless to change the future and we lie awake with worry at what the next chapter will hold.

And in self-preservation, we turn away.

When all feels hopeless : : Clean : : Rachel Wolf

When all feels hopeless : : Clean : : Rachel Wolf

As someone who hasn't been able to listen to the news for over 12 years, I understand the sentiment. Fear for the future and deep concerns for what's happening around the world is enough to shut down even the fiercest among us. 

And we worry: what sort of world will we leave to our children?

And we turn away again.

When all feels hopeless : : Clean : : Rachel Wolf

When all feels hopeless : : Clean : : Rachel Wolf

What sort of world will we leave our children?

It's a question I sit with often.

But there, perhaps, is the sliver lining our hearts need most of all. Because the answer is beautifully simple.

We will leave them the world that we choose to create.

A world built of compassion and caring, and the courageous choice to not look away. If, that is, we can find it inside of us to lend our hands. 

When all feels hopeless : : Clean : : Rachel Wolf

When all feels hopeless : : Clean : : Rachel Wolf

With that in mind this weekend, I transformed my feelings of fear and sadness through small simple acts.

I donated money. I wrote a letter. And I made medicine to send to Standing Rock.

And as we mixed and stirred the herbs into the simmering pots, I realized what an achingly beautiful metaphor it was.

Because we all have medicine to give. If only we have the courage to turn back toward what we fear and set to work.

When all feels hopeless : : Clean : : Rachel Wolf

When all feels hopeless : : Clean : : Rachel Wolf

Your challenge then, is to find the medicine that you have to offer.

And when everything feels desperate, out of balance, or out of control – when you have to look away to keep your heart from breaking – I ask you to make your medicine.

Literally or figuratively, find the medicine you can offer to the world and then give it away.

Because medicine of all sorts can heal us, even if it only passes through our hands.

When all feels hopeless : : Clean : : Rachel Wolf

Your medicine might be buying mittens to donate to the homeless shelter. Your medicine may be the eye contact, dignity, and a hot meal you serve at a a local soup kitchen. Your medicine might be volunteering at a nearby food pantry or defending those who are persecuted. Your medicine may be kindness to those who need it most.

What medicine do you have to offer the world?

Whatever it is, it's needed right now.

It's time.

 

It's time to make medicine and give it away.