My Favorite Herbals

I have become caffeine sensitive as I get older so around mid-afternoon I have to leave my beloved tea behind and turn to an herbal beverage to enjoy. My number one favorite, hot or iced, is South African Rooibos. A bush that is grown in the Cedarberg mountain area of South Africa, the leaves are harvested and processed much like the tea plant, camellia sinensis. Its name, rooibos, means “red bush” in Afrikaans. When the leaves are allowed to oxidize like black tea, they turn a beautiful reddish color.

Oxidation of the leaf means that the leaves are spread out and exposed to the air thus turning them darker. Green rooibos, like green tea, is not allowed to oxidize. For a more scientific explanation of the process, click here.

RooibosThe color of the hot tea is a dark, reddish brown and looks a lot like certain types of black tea. It has a full herbaceous body with flavor notes of spice, citrus and vanilla. It is strong enough for the addition of milk but I usually enjoy it plain. In addition to tasting really good, it is reputed to have all sorts of health benefits.

When the weather turns hot like it has here in New England the last few days, I use the cold steeping method to create iced rooibos. Simply fill a container with fresh cold spring water and then add one tablespoon of rooibos leaves for every 6 ounces of water. Steep the leaves overnight in the fridge and then strain into another container in the morning. I love to drink this full strength but others prefer to dilute this with water and ice. You can float lemon or orange slices in it to add more of a citrus flavor. Yummy and refreshing!

Another favorite is called “Sweet Coconut Thai” made by Celestial Seasonings. Amongst other spices and natural flavors, it contains rooibos! It is all natural, no sugar added and caffeine free. It tastes like Chai tea with a hint of a coconut flavor note. I love coconut so this is heaven in an herbal teacup for me. I found it in the tea section of my local grocery store and it comes in a box of 20 tea bags.

What are your favorite herbals?

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Treasures from a Bead Show

Last Sunday, I did one of my favorite things. I went to a bead show! It was the Innovative Bead show held in Marlboro, MA. The show was set up in a way that I have never seen a bead show set up before. Each vendor had their own hotel room. So, I wandered up and down the hallway and in and out of rooms filled with tables of gorgeous beads and findings and jewelry. Of course, I went there for “only one thing”. hah! Am I kidding myself or what? Of course, I left with bags of treasure.

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I love all of my purchases but my most favorite strand of beads is the 5th strand up from the bottom. They are faceted grossular garnet. According to my “Firefly Guide to Gems“, there are many different types of garnet ranging in color from red to orange to brown to green to black and brown. The word “grossular” derives from the Greek word “grossularia” meaning gooseberry. The crystals can sometimes resemble the fruit in both color and shape. Yummy! Garnet also just happens to be my birthstone so perhaps I can make something special for myself with these beautiful beads.

Do you like to go to bead shows? What have been your favorite purchases?

Bead Journal Project

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I am very excited about a decision that I have recently made but also a bit nervous as well. It took me over 2 weeks to sit with it and think it over but I have taken the plunge and committed to a year long project which involves beading one journal page per month over the next year, starting June 1st. I’ve never made a commitment like this before but my intuition is speaking to me very strongly that this is something that I need to do to learn more about myself. Robin Atkins, my “beady” hero, has created the Bead Journal Project and there are already over 100 members. Details are here and you may join until the deadline of May 30th.

I want to keep my journal pages small and, instead of putting them together in book form, I would like to make them into a wall hanging. At first I thought of sewing them onto fabric and making a small quilt. However, this morning as I was browsing through a magazine, I saw a great idea where the artist had linked fabric squares together in a line, one above the other and so on. I really liked the way that looked. As far as the pages themselves, I want to follow Robin’s advice when she says to approach it as a way to “journal out-of-the-box”. It is a way to put your intellect aside and just go with the flow of the beads. I imagine a river of beads flowing gently by and I jump in and see where it takes me. Wish me luck!

What are your experiences when you have gone with “the flow of the beads”?

Back from the Workshops

In my last post, I was very excited because I was leaving soon for 2 workshops with Dayle Doroshow, “Messengers and Storytellers” and “The Unfolding Pyramid”. Well, I am back and am happy to share with you that it was an absolutely amazing experience. I have spent the last 2 weeks processing and integrating my experience and the many things that I have learned and am still learning.

Dayle is a multi-talented, inspirational teacher who enthusiastically shares techniques and stories about her journeys and her creations. In both workshops, I felt like I was part of a tribe and Dayle was our “wise woman”, as we all gathered in a circle and leaned forward to listen closely to her teachings.

The first day we created our “Messengers and Storytellers”. I named my first creation “Queen Goldie”. She is a proud and regal queen who symbolizes the strength and courage of a woman. She wears a formal robe richly patterned with polymer clay canework, a bead and copper coil necklace and a gold crown atop her brown and black chenille and copper metallic yarn hairtwist. Very formal queenly attire which she wears with dignity and grace. However, if you look closely, you can see a hint of her playful side – a gold toe ring that she is wearing on her left foot – a reminder of the importance of making time for “play” amidst the responsibilities of our daily lives. She is free standing on top of a gold platform.

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My second creation is named “Beady-Eyed Birtwistle”. His orange body is decorated with a variety of flower, leaf and jellyroll canes. He is holding a painted copper book in his heart area. The cover reads “True Beauty Lies Within” and the inside pages are painted in a delicate rainbow of watercolors and stamped with “Express your Inner Beauty, Create Art” and “Do What you Love and you will Blossom!” A few curvy beaded strands sprout from his otherwise bald head and a simple copper beaded necklace in the shape of a flower adorns his neck. Rather a homely guy at first look, he represents the beauty in our souls. He encourages us that if we are true to ourselves and follow our passions, our inner beauty will blossom forth as we create the story of our life.

As I made each doll, it brought me back to a time when I used to create my “Goddess Doll” pins. Based on my research into ancient Goddess mythology and teachings, each fabric Goddess body was lovingly beaded with the theme of a different Goddess archetype and came with a little story card about that particular Goddess and her qualities. Most of the pins have been sold or given away as gifts but I do still have a couple of my very first special creations.

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As a child, I loved to read mythology stories, especially those of the Roman and Greek Goddesses and Gods. That interest was rekindled as an adult when I read “Women Who Run with the Wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. That led me to read books by Joseph Campbell and Marija Gimbutas. As I read more and more into this fascinating subject, I expressed my discoveries in creating my Goddess pins. My jewelry has since evolved into different areas but I find myself being drawn back to these themes of myth and Goddesses.

What types of stories and myths do you enjoy reading?