Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats


I have been really enjoying overnight oats lately because the flavor combinations are limited only by my imagination, they’re healthy, easy, can be taken on the go, and what’s not to love about waking up to breakfast already made and ready to eat?

I created this apple cinnamon overnight oats recipe last week, and I’m happy to report that it is toddler approved. I make overnight oats in single servings in mason jars. This allows The Artist to grab his jar and take it with him when he heads to work, and it packs easily in a lunch box when on the go with kids. It’s good to eat as a cold cereal, or warm it up first if you prefer it warm. Enjoy!


Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats
(1 serving)


3/4 C oats (We use Bob’s Red Mill certified gluten free)
1/4 C organic apple sauce
2 tsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp raw local honey
3/4 C almond milk (or your milk of choice)
optional: 1 Tbsp coconut butter, melted
optional: cinnamon granola mix (we use KIND brand)


  1. Layer the oats, apple sauce, chia seeds, cinnamon and honey in a jar or other container of choice.
  2. Pour milk over the ingredients.
  3. Put the lid on and leave it in the fridge overnight.
  4. In the morning, stir it up in the jar, or pour it into a bowl and stir it up. (If you want to warm it up, now is a good time to do that in a pan on the stove.)
  5. (optional) Drizzle melted coconut butter over the top like icing
  6. (optional) Add cinnamon granola mix as a crunchy topping


Elderberry Syrup


Elderberry is an antiviral herb high in antioxidants, and has been shown in studies (1, 2, 3) to be effective against the common cold and ten strains of influenza, reducing the duration and severity of symptoms. There is also evidence of elderberry possibly being effective as a prophylactic in preventing viral infection, as it appears to fortify cell membranes to prevent virus penetration.

There are a lot of conflicting opinions on social media regarding whether elderberry is safe for people with autoimmune conditions and whether it’s safe for anyone to take for long periods of time as a prophylactic. Some have expressed concern that elderberry increases inflammatory cytokines, so it’s important to note that it also increases anti-inflammatory cytokines. Whole plant extracts tend to have built in checks and balances like this, unlike isolated compounds used in other substances, such as pharmaceutical drugs.

The other concern is with long term use of elderberry. Some people insist that it’s safe to take daily for months at a time, while others strictly only use it during active infection. My opinion, based on my own research and experience with elderberry (and I have an autoimmune condition), is that the middle ground is generally the place to be. Common sense tells us that it’s probably not a good idea to have the immune system ramped up on high alert all the time, especially when you have an autoimmune disease that already means you have an overactive immune system. In my opinion, it is okay to use elderberry prophylactically when the benefits outweigh the theoretical risk. For example, if someone in my house has flu, I would take elderberry prophylactically to protect myself until it’s gone. If I worked in health care or at a daycare where my exposure to viral infections was very high during “cold and flu season,” I would take elderberry prophylactically in an on and off pattern, giving my body a week off from it here and there, during the times when I am at high risk of viral exposure. If I am someone who mostly stays home during peak flu season, and I am not at high risk of contracting viral infections, I would take elderberry only at the onset of symptoms and stop once the infection is gone. But keep in mind that when it comes to any kind of remedy, nothing is one size fits all, so it’s always wise to pay attention to how your body responds to elderberry.


Elderberry can be prepared many different ways ranging from tinctures to syrups, and there are as many ways to make elderberry syrup as there are to make chicken soup. Everyone has their own way of doing it. Today I’m going to share three tried and true elderberry syrup recipes of my own, ranging from the simplest with the least ingredients to the most potent formula with added ingredients for extra immune support.


Basic Elderberry Syrup
(Makes about 3 cups)

1 cup dried elderberries
6 cups distilled water
1 1/2 cups raw local honey

1.Bring berries and water to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer on low about 30 minutes.

2. Strain out berries and return liquid to pan.

3. Simmer until liquid reduces by about half.

4. Remove from heat and cool completely.

5. Add raw honey and stir until well blended.

6. Bottle and store in the refrigerator.


Better Elderberry Syrup
(Makes about 3 cups)

1 cup dried elderberries
6 cups distilled water
3 TBSP fresh grated ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups raw local honey

1. Bring berries, ginger, and water to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer on low for about 30 minutes.

2. Strain and return liquid to pan.

3. Add cloves and cinnamon.

4. Simmer on low until liquid reduces by about half.

5. Remove from heat and cool completely.

6. Add raw honey and stir until well blended.

7. Bottle and store in the refrigerator.


Best Elderberry Syrup
(Makes about 3 cups)

1 cup dried elderberries
6 cups distilled water
3 TBSP fresh grated ginger
2 TBSP dried rose hips
1 TBSP elder flowers
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups raw local honey

1. Bring berries, ginger, rose hips, flowers, and water to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer on low for about 30 minutes.

2. Strain and return liquid to pan.

3. Add cloves and cinnamon.

4. Simmer until liquid reduces by about half.

5. Remove from heat and cool completely.

6. Add raw honey and stir until well blended.

7. Bottle and store in the refrigerator.



Usage Guidelines
Daily support: Adults and children over 12, take 1 tablespoon 1x per day. Children 12 months-11 years, take 1 teaspoon.

Acute support: 3x per day

(For children 6 months-11 months: Substitute pure maple syrup instead of honey. 1/2 teaspoon-1 teaspoon)


  • Although the suggested amounts listed above work well for most people, some people are more sensitive to elderberry. If loose stools or other GI discomforts occur, back the dosage down. This occurs sometimes when too much is taken.
  • Ginger root is easiest to grate after it has been hardened up in the freezer for a bit. No need to peel the ginger for this recipe, as it’s going to be strained out anyway.
  • The elderberry syrup will not be very thick as some people may imagine a syrup to be (e.g. corn syrup). It will be a bit on the runny side. This is normal.
  • Some people like to buy decorative bottles for their elderberry syrup, but you can use just about anything from a mason jar to a repurposed apple cider vinegar bottle.
  • You can use measuring spoons or medicine cups to take the elderberry syrup. I have found that pouring it into medicine cups is less messy.
  • The shelf life in the refrigerator is several months to a year, as long as you use raw honey and don’t heat it. Just keep an eye out for mold and discard if it occurs. (I’ve never had to throw any away.)
  • When substituting pure maple syrup for the honey, the shelf life may be shorter.
  • You can freeze elderberry syrup for a longer shelf life. I sometimes split my batch up into smaller containers and freeze some portions for later use.

Instant Pot Chicken Soup


This is a no nonsense chicken soup recipe made with real food. You won’t find any cream of crap soup cans in this recipe, but it is quick and easy for busy evenings, or when you are feeling under the weather and don’t want to exert too much energy for a nourishing meal. Perfect for snow days and sick days, this chicken soup is full of antimicrobial herbs and nourishing veggies for immune system support, or even just adding a little bit of hygge comfort to your life.

The quality of the soup will depend on the quality of the ingredients you use. Ideally, we should use organic free range chicken, a high quality salt like Celtic sea salt or Himalayan pink salt, herbs grown in our own gardens, homemade bone broth, you get the picture. But you know what? You can still get the job done with whatever you have to work with, and it will still be delicious. Feel free to add or omit, increase or decrease to suit your taste and resources. Truth be told, I don’t even measure the herbs when I throw them in. I grab the jars of our dried homegrown herbs and just eyeball it. It’s good every time. Just get witchy with it and don’t overthink it.

I hope you enjoy this recipe from my family to yours!

Instant Pot Chicken Soup

3-4 lbs (give or take) full chicken
4 carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup kale, chopped (frozen or fresh)
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon sea salt
A few cranks from the pepper mill
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried parsley
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup filtered water

1. Put veggies, herbs, and seasonings into the pot
2. Add chicken on top
3. Pour in broth and water
4. Close lid and set vent to sealing
5. Select “soup” and let cook under pressure
6. Allow pressure to release naturally
7. Once pressure is released, open pot and place the chicken into a large bowl
8. Debone chicken, adding meat back to the pot
9. Stir and serve!


  • Add up to a tablespoon of fire cider to your soup bowl for an extra kick of immune support.
  • Sub any leafy green in place of the kale. I have used bok choy and spinach with good results.
  • Use water instead of broth if water is what you have to work with, or if you prefer a milder taste.
  • Use boneless chicken breasts for a quicker and easier time. This is not nearly as flavorful or nourishing as a whole chicken, but works in a pinch.


Inside Our Natural Medicine Cabinet

natural medicine cab cover

Sometimes people look at me in disbelief when I tell them we don’t keep any pharmaceuticals in our home, including over the counter meds. The one exception is ibuprofen, which we rarely ever use. Besides the ibuprofen, I’m not exaggerating when I say we have an all natural medicine cabinet. So what does a natural medicine cabinet look like? You might be surprised to hear that many natural remedies are foods, so they aren’t actually all stored in a medicine cabinet. Before I walk you through the contents of my family’s natural medicine cabinet (and basket, bag, fridge, and herb shelf), I want to stress a few important points.

  • Not everyone needs all this stuff. Really. What you need will vary from what another person needs.
  • Some of the things we have came from experimentation to learn what works for us and what doesn’t, which things are our favorites, and which ones aren’t so much.
  • Everything we have was purchased/grown/foraged/created for a specific purpose. I recommend starting there and trying to avoid just buying all kinds of random things aimlessly because you think they might help you. Be intentional about it.
  • Start small. Replace what you can when you can. You don’t have to go totally natural overnight. Keep it real. Keep it simple.

My original plan for this post was to write a quick note on why we have each item/what we use it for, but after I got through about ten herbs, I realized that would be way too much time and a very lengthy blog post. Therefore, I am going to list everything for you, with the exception of all our first aid supplies, and you can feel free to ask me any questions you may have about these items. Check back for future posts on natural health and beauty items and natural cleaning products.


Wild Cherry Bark
Mullein Leaf
Lemon Balm
Raspberry Leaf
Marshmallow Root
Rose Hips
Red Clover
Corn Silk
Yellow Dock Root
Rose Petals
German Chamomile
Elder Flowers
Hawthorn Leaf & Flower
Hawthorn Berries
Dandelion Root
Eucalyptus Leaf

herb shelf


Hawthorn leaf, flower, & berry
Nettle, raspberry leaf, red clover
Yellow dock root, dandelion root, nettle, rose hips
Ginger and fennel
Olive leaf
Lemon balm, catnip, roman chamomile, meadowsweet, lavender
Mullein leaf
Wild cherry bark


Chamomile, Lemon balm, catnip, fennel, and ginger


Tea Tree
Clary Sage
Carrot Seed
German Chamomile
Nighty Night
Sweet Dreams
Sniffle Stopper
Sweet Slumber
Germ Destroyer



Cod Liver Oil
Kids’ Cod Liver Oil
Liquid Chlorophyll
Probiotics (Adult, Kids, Infant)
Pickled Garlic
Fire Cider
Ear oil (Mullein & Garlic)
Oil of oregano
Colloidal silver spray
Lavender hydrosol
Chamomile hydrosol


Herbal Sleep Syrup
Elderberry Syrup
Ginger Syrup
Pure Maple Syrup
Raw local honey
Blackstrap molasses

fridge shelf


Vitamin C powder
Vitamin C spray
Kids’ Multi
Prenatal Multi
Baby vitamin D3 drops
Vitamin D3+K2 drops


Activated Charcoal
Blood Builder
Papaya Enzymes
Digestive Enzymes
Cranberry Capsules
Placenta Capsules


Bellis Per
Carbo Veg
Kali Carb
Kali Phos
Staphis Agria
Nat. Phos. 6x
Camilia drops

medicine cabinet


Calendula Salve
Green Salve
Comfrey Salve
Healing Balm
Coconut oil
Sesame oil
Almond oil
Olive oil
Avocado oil
Neem oil
Castor oil
Vitamin E oil
Magnesium lotion
Aloe Vera gel
Arnica Ointment
Bentonite Clay
Baking Soda
Goldenseal & Oregon Grape Root Powder
Shea Butter
Cocoa Butter
Epsom Salt
Colloidal Silver Gel


Pulse Oximeter
Nose Frida
Strep A Swab Kit
UTI Test Strips

*You may notice some Garden of Life brand products in the photos. In December 2017, Garden of Life announced that they were acquired by Nestle. Therefore, for ethical reasons, my family will no longer be using Garden of Life products effective immediately.


Communing With Plants

communing cover

Since the dawn of time, humans and plants have had an intimate relationship, as plants have provided so much life for us in the form of food, medicine, tools, and more. They exhale and we inhale, doing a sacred dance of breaths between us. We have cared for them, and they have cared for us. Even today, 25% of pharmaceuticals are derived from plants, and the World Health Organization recognizes that traditional plant medicine is the main healing modality in much of the world. But we here in America have lost our way. Most people in industrialized nations are no longer in touch with plants. The human-plant relationship has suffered due to cultural disconnection and modern conveniences that always come with a price. When we no longer spend time with plants, and when we take them for granted, we all surely suffer. Generational wisdom is lost in the pages of time. When you can buy a plant under the fluorescent lights at the grocery store, wrap it in plastic, and drive it home to your refrigerator, you aren’t fostering connection with the plant the same way you would if you had spent time with the plant, your hands in the soil, communing with its pollinators, watching, listening, smelling, feeling, learning.

Plants are conscious beings, and they thrive with love and connection just like the rest of us do. There is something extra special about a well loved plant that has given its permission to be used by us, and is eager to help. That is where I find myself in my relationship with plants. Getting to know them, respecting and honoring them, and being truly grateful when they help me. My relationship with plants connects me with my ancestors and those who came before me. It connects me to my instinctual wisdom, and makes me a more conscious human being. Since I have opened my heart to the wisdom of our green friends, I have found them presenting themselves to me in funny ways. Right when I am in need of some blood strengthening and liver support, yellow dock appears in my herb garden. Birds must have carried her to me. Right when I’m defending pokeweed from those who disrespect her and fear her, I see a little pokeweed poking over my fence to say hello. Right when I’ve got a bleeding wound on my finger in the woods, I hear the whisper of wild yarrow at my feet. Every intention I set for the new year has coincidentally revolved around one common theme: Connection. I can only hope this means more connecting and communing with plants, too.

Umbilical Cord Burning

cord burning cover.jpg

Baby Sunshine was born over the summer, which is why I haven’t been posting. It was a perfect, peaceful waterbirth at home. Baby and placenta remained intact for several hours before we performed a cord burning ceremony when the time was right. Many people have asked me questions about cord burning and placenta, and I had many questions myself during my pregnancy, so I hope to provide valuable information here about those things.

I read a book during my pregnancy that absolutely stunned me. Placenta: The Forgotten Chakra by Robin Lim is something all people need to read. If you’re planning on having a baby in the near future, make it a priority. I had already come to know placenta as a sacred life force to be honored and respected, but the information presented in this book helped me understand so much more about placenta and the importance of lotus birth (aka intact birth). If you’re not into the spiritual aspects of it, there is still plenty to be gained from the book, including some practical information and studies.

Placentas are part of babies. They share the same DNA. Some people believe placenta is baby’s twin. Others believe placenta is a spiritual guardian, such as an angel. Whatever the case may be, they are together from early on in the baby’s womb life as companions. Separation should not be forceful and quick. Placentas should not be treated as trash or medical waste. Would you throw the body of a deceased loved one in the trash? I would hope not. Most people have burial or cremation rites, or some form of honoring their departed. May it be so for placenta. Many babies let out a cry or otherwise show signs of distress when their cords are cut. I have seen it compared to being with someone you love for your whole life, then going to sleep, and waking up without them. Most people I know are wounded from this separation, even if they don’t know it. Robin Lim discusses this in Placenta: The Forgotten Chakra.

It doesn’t have to be this way. If we want to raise unwounded, whole people, we must start with birth, and placental separation is an extension of the birth process. Delayed cord clamping has gained traction as an evidence based practice, but delaying until the cord stops pulsing only scratches the surface. It’s a good start, but it’s the bare minimum of what humans deserve at the beginning of life. (Words to search to research and know your options: Extended delayed cord clamping, lotus birth, intact birth)

In addition to deciding when to separate the baby and placenta, you need to know your options for deciding how to separate baby and placenta. One option is a full lotus birth. This is when they are simply left alone to separate naturally. The placenta is usually preserved with salt and herbs, and they are otherwise left alone, generally separating on their own with a dried up cord on the third day (give or take). Interestingly, mother’s milk comes in around the third day (give or take). Could it be that there is some wisdom to this design that modern science does not yet understand?

Not everyone wants a full lotus birth, nor is it something that works with every set of circumstances, so there are other options to consider. Some people use homemade cord ties, clamps, or other such tools to clamp the cord before using sterile scissors to separate the cord, but I want to show you a different way. A slower, gentler, and more sterile way: Cord burning.

Burning the umbilical cord is a slow and gentle separation that allows us the opportunity to reflect on and honor the placenta. It allows baby time to say goodbye to placenta, and transition gently to life outside the womb. In some cultures, it is believed that the element of fire helps to move any remaining life force from the placenta to the baby. Besides the spiritual implications, it also has practical benefits. It is the most sterile way to separate an umbilical cord to prevent infections, and it requires no additional cord stump aftercare or clamping. It cauterizes as it separates. It also allows the cord stump to dry up and fall off faster. Sunshine baby’s cord stump fell off on day five.

I’m going to share our cord burning ceremony with you, and then I will address some frequently asked questions about cord burning. I hope this information helps you understand the importance of placenta, and some options that you have when including placenta in your birth plan.


This placenta protected Sunshine and me during pregnancy and after birth by providing a barrier against pathogens, providing life-sustaining hormones, nutrients, and oxygen, and providing her with the foundation for lifelong immune system health. This is a miraculous organ only created in the womb when growing a new life. In some cultures, the placenta is honored as the deceased twin of the baby, and is given full burial rites. After all, everything in the universe requires balance. We cannot have life without also having death, and in the wake of death, we can be sure that new life always emerges. Right now, we are honored to witness the full circle of life and death. The way babies and their placentas have been prematurely and forcibly separated in modern times has prevented many people from understanding this important knowledge.


Dear placenta, your sacrifice has given this baby life, and we are grateful. We are here now to honor you as the sacred life force that you are, the first mother, and the tree of life. You are the roots, the cord is the stem, and sweet Sunshine is the fruit. A sacred trinity. Just as trees give us oxygen here on earth, you provided oxygen between the worlds. While your earthly purpose is now complete, we understand that you will continue to protect Sunshine in spirit, and we thank you. It is time for gentle and peaceful separation, bringing Sunshine fully earthside and releasing placenta back to the spiritual realm.

Welcome earthside, Sunshine!



FAQ About Cord Burning

Q: Can cord burning be done in the hospital?

A: Most hospitals won’t allow you to have an open flame during your stay, but that need not stop you from cord burning once you get home. Just keep baby and placenta together until then. If it’s going to be longer than a few hours, you’ll want to preserve placenta with salt and herbs following instructions as if doing a full lotus birth, or keep placenta on ice in a thermal bag. If the hospital insists on taking placenta for testing (drug testing is routinely performed in some hospitals) and you consent to that, they don’t need the whole thing. They can use just part of it while the rest remains intact.

Q: Is cord burning compatible with placenta encapsulation?

A: Yes, it can be. If you wish to consume placenta before separation occurs (such as raw in a smoothie), a small piece of placenta can be cut off for such use (with baby’s permission, of course). Encapsulation or other such processing of the placenta for consumption can be done as long as the placenta is not attached for longer than four hours, or as long as placenta is kept preserved with ice in a thermal bag if intact longer than four hours.

Q: What tools are needed for cord burning?

A: A flame that will stay lit for a few minutes (e.g. a candle or two), something heat proof to catch hot wax that drips, and a heat barrier between baby and the flame (can be as simple as a piece of cardboard). We used a cord burning box, which acted as a barrier and a place for the wax to drip. It had grooves to help hold the cord and candles. but I’ve seen people use something as simple as a plate to catch wax. It doesn’t take much. Be resourceful.

Q: What kind of candles should be used?

A: Any candle will work. We chose 100% natural beeswax candles so baby would not be inhaling toxic fumes.

Q: How long does it take?

A: We had two candles going at once, and it took maybe about 5 minutes. With only one candle, it can take a bit longer.

Q: Does it have a bad smell?

A: Not really! Maybe a mild campfire type smell, but not like burning flesh or anything like you might expect. It might crackle and pop a couple times in the process though, so don’t be alarmed if this happens.

Q: How far from the baby should the cord be burned?

A: 6-8 inches from baby

Q: What do you do with the remaining cord stump afterwards?

A: Nothing special needs to be done other than making sure it doesn’t accidentally get pulled. Just leave it alone, and it will dry up and fall off in a few days time. Wrapping a piece of gauze or other fabric around baby’s belly to keep the cord stump in place is helpful. If you want to, you can even make the stump into a little heart, spiral, or other shape before securing it in place.


plantain cover

Not to be confused with the banana-like plant of the same common name, plantain is an abundant and useful backyard herb. Plantain is native to Europe, and was brought to the Americas by European settlers. This plant is both edible and medicinal, and you probably have some growing near you right now. It is commonly found in areas frequented by people, such as lawns, and along driveways and roadsides.

Briefly touching on herbal actions and energetics again, as I mentioned in the post about wild violets, plantain is cooling, astringent, vulnerary, and diuretic. It is most popularly known for its usefulness in topical applications, and has earned the nickname, “fairy bandage.” Its cooling nature lends itself to assisting with inflamed skin conditions, such as burns, stings, and rashes. Its astringency and vulnerary abilities make it a useful plant when dealing with wounds.

b plantain

Broadleaf Plantain (plantago major)

n plantain

Narrowleaf Plantain (plantago lanceolata)

Last time I had a bee sting, I chewed up a plantain leaf and stuck it on the sting as a poultice, which yielded good results for me, but one of my favorite ways to use plantain is in a salve after infusing it in organic olive oil for at least six weeks. In fact, it’s one of the herbs I use in my favorite multipurpose skin salve, which I’m going to share the recipe for in an upcoming post.

I have both broadleaf plantain (plantago major) and narrowleaf plantain (plantago lanceolata) growing abundantly around my home, so I use the leaves of both for my salve. You can use either one or both. It’s a good idea to at least let the leaves wilt for a day or two before infusing in oil because too much water content can result in spoilage in the oil. Dried leaves also work fine. Go forage for some plantain, and check back soon for a great salve recipe you won’t want to miss!

Those Damn Gluten People


Most of you know my story and how going gluten free probably saved my life (literally) a few years ago. Comments like the ones shown in the images below are all the rage, and they’re nothing new to me. They’ve been popular for years and the trend hasn’t died, despite being tired, unoriginal, and based in sheer ignorance. Let’s take a look…


When someone has diabetes, do people get annoyed with or make fun of their dietary restrictions? When someone has cancer, do people tell them it’s made up and all in their heads? I’m confident that the answer is no. Why, then, do people do those things to people with celiac disease or gluten allergy? I have folders full of medical records, bills, and laboratory testing to prove that it’s not “made up.” What makes someone feel so entitled that they can dismiss a serious medical condition simply because they haven’t been presented with private, personal medical information for “proof,” or that they are simply too ignorant to understand what it means?

I know there are a lot of really stupid people in this world, but sometimes I see otherwise intelligent people parroting these ignorant things, and it really baffles me. I chalk it up to their need to join the crowd and fit in. What other explanation is there? Or maybe they really are too lazy to do just a tiny bit of research on the topic on their own. Who knows?

In general, I don’t care what people think of my medical condition and the dietary needs that I have in order to live, but there is one group of people I really do need to pick a bone with about this. There are people working in the food service industry who say the ignorant things shown in the examples I have presented. Those people prepare and serve food to people, and that’s pretty freaking scary. A negligent kitchen worker or server who doesn’t take a gluten free request seriously can seriously harm or even kill somebody with their arrogant ignorance. If you’re one of those people, try to understand that dining out when you have celiac disease or a food allergy is something that most of us do very rarely because it’s so stressful.

We do not enjoy having to request your special allergen menu, and then watching you roll your eyes to your coworker while you try to find it.

We do not enjoy having to ask you questions about ingredients or how the food is prepared. We know you’re busy. This sucks for us, too.

We do not enjoy only being able to choose from maybe a handful of things on the menu that we can eat while everyone around us eats whatever they want with no cares in the world.

We do not enjoy being the only person at the party without a piece of cake while watching everyone else enjoy theirs.

We do not enjoy having to spend three times as much money for gluten free food (food is my family’s BIGGEST expense), but we must because it’s that damn important.

We do not enjoy wondering if you think we are being bothersome to you. We really just want to eat safely and not end up in the hospital later.

We do not enjoy the awkward feeling that overcomes us when the free bread basket is placed on our table.

We do not enjoy feeling like we are an inconvenience to you, the people in the kitchen, the people dining with us, and the other diners in the restaurant just because we want to have a meal like everyone else.

We do not enjoy having to limit the restaurant choices for our friends and family to a very small number of places when they invite us out to dinner for our birthday once a year. (Where I live, there are only about 3 places I can eat, and they’re all 30 minutes away).

When I dine out, I am actually embarrassed when I must mention to the server that I can’t eat gluten. I say it as discreetly as possible, and always wonder if people around me can hear me and if they think I’m one of “those” people who wants to “tell the whole restaurant how they can’t eat gluten.” And if I wanted to, why is that even a bad thing? For cancer, diabetes, and plenty of other medical conditions, there are marathons, awareness ribbons, and fundraisers. People celebrate bringing awareness to these medical conditions, and they wear the t-shirts. But if I mention my medical condition, verified by several doctors and laboratory testing, when it’s relevant to making sure I can eat safely, I’m some kind of target for hateful comments like these ones. Why is that? And as an aside, when I dine out and get a server who is accommodating and understanding, I always leave them a nice tip. When I get a server who clearly doesn’t care, I spend the next 24 hours wondering if I should cancel all my plans because surely I’m going to be sick soon. Maybe it will take some people needing to be gluten free themselves before they will truly understand. Or maybe one of their children will develop celiac disease or a gluten allergy. I hope they don’t, but sometimes I think that’s the only way these people will get it. To all the food service workers out there who are looking out, we appreciate you.

The Birthday Ring Tradition

birthday ring cover.jpg

The birthday ring stems from a lovely German birthday tradition called geburtstagskranz, which is also popular in Waldorf schools and Waldorf homeschooling families. This is a fairly new tradition for my family, as we only learned about it and adopted it after beginning our Waldorf inspired homeschool journey. I think it’s a lovely birthday tradition, and maybe our children will grow up and carry on this tradition if they have families of their own someday. I like that this small ceremony adds reflection and intention to the birthday celebration. In this world of mindless consumerism, it’s good to mindfully add meaning when we can.

There are endless options on how to set up your child’s birthday ring, so there’s not really a right or wrong way to do it. The idea is to reflect on the child’s life each year, and celebrate them, which is usually done by decorating the birthday ring with ornamental representations of memories from each year, or even representations of the child’s interests and personality. You can also add candles to the birthday ring. Some people keep a special “life candle” that is gifted to the child as an infant, and that candle is lit in the center of the ring each year. You can add toys, figurines, treats, or even nothing to the center of the ring. Set up your child’s birthday ring in whatever way calls to you. If it brings joy and a celebration of the child’s life, you’re doing it right.



The artist and I decided that it would be special to gift our daughter a new ornament for her birthday ring each year. As the years go by, each ornament will represent a year of her life and something special about that year to remember. Since she’s still very young, we will also have room to include a beeswax candle for each year for a while. A special addition that many children love is wearing a birthday crown. You can make one from felt or fabric, or even buy one from one of the many crafters on Etsy.

We gifted the annual ornament to our daughter on the morning of her birthday, where we had the birthday ring set up. Each candle was added to the birthday ring with reflection on each year they represent. We said, “On Wildflower’s first year, she learned to walk.” And then added the first candle to the ring. “On Wildflower’s second year, she learned to talk.” Then added the second candle to the ring. And so on. With each year, we name special milestones or memories.

Next, we sang a fun birthday song that is simple and easy so children can sing along, too. (Credit for this song goes to

The earth goes round the sun
The earth goes round the sun
The earth goes round the sun and (child’s name) is one! (*light first candle*)

The earth goes round the sun
The earth goes round the sun
The earth goes round the sun and (child’s name) is two! (*light second candle*)

Do this for each year, and then let the child blow out her/his candles to applause!

If you’re looking for something simple to add more meaning and memories to your child’s special day, I hope you can find some inspiration in these ideas and create your own family tradition. Enjoy!

Why I Like Herbs More Than Essential Oils



It requires over 2 lbs. of peppermint leaves to produce just 1 oz. of peppermint essential oil, and that is on the modest end of it. Some sources say that it requires many more pounds than that. You can make a cup of peppermint tea with 2 teaspoons of peppermint leaves, or a whole jar of peppermint infused oil or a peppermint tincture with something in the neighborhood of 1 oz. of peppermint leaves. Why take more from the earth than we need?


Susun Weed always says, “Herbal medicine is the people’s medicine.” I could not agree more. One of the best things we can all do for the earth, our health, and our budgets is to learn about the plants we have growing around us and use what we have available. You likely have free food and medicine growing in your own back yard, and if you don’t, you may be able to grow some of your own. Herbal preparations are easy to make with simple things most people already have in their kitchens. Essential oils require a whole lot of plant material and steam distillation equipment, which most people do not have access to.


Essential oils do not contain whole plant synergy. They contain only the volatile oils that are light enough to be extracted via steam distillation. Some heavier molecules are left behind, so what you end up with is a bottle of isolated and highly concentrated plant constituents. We could argue that this makes essential oils more closely related to drugs than herbs. After all, 25% of pharmaceuticals are derived from plant materials, and contain highly concentrated and isolated compounds (plus synthetics). Herbs are different. With herbs, the whole plant synergy remains intact so the various constituents can work together the way they are meant to. Here’s one interesting example of scientific findings to support the use of whole plant synergy over isolated compounds.


Since essential oils are highly concentrated and more like drugs than herbs, they are not metabolized in our bodies with the same efficiency as herbs. Herbs are more closely related to food than drugs (and most of them actually are food). While there are safety considerations with herbs, generally speaking, our bodies recognize the plants as food and know what to do with them. Essential oils, on the other hand, are responsible for many adverse effects, including liver damage, because they are not recognized the same way the plant would be if it were intact as an herb. It takes more work for the body to filter essential oils, so I often prefer the gentleness of herbs. Here is just one example of someone nearly dying from ingestion of peppermint oil. Peppermint tea would never do that to us!

With all that being said, I do not wish to demonize essential oils. They certainly can be useful, and I own many of them and use them when called for. Herbs just happen to be my go to for most things for the reasons listed above. The adverse reactions people have had from essential oils are due to using them in an unsafe manner. It’s important to know how to use anything safely, even herbs. With essential oils becoming popular, largely due to multi-level marketing companies with independent sales people, many people are using them and doing so unsafely. My advice to anyone using essential oils is to do your own research from reputable sources, recognize marketing scams when you see them, and understand that people selling essential oils in an MLM company are not required to have any training whatsoever, so take their recommendations with a grain of salt. As always, listen to your body and do what feels right for you and your situation. And for the love of health, sustainability, and budget, learn a little about herbs!