Beach Rose-Seaweed Mermaid Bath Salts

Summer in New England is fleeting and beautiful and- for me- is not complete without numerous visits to the ocean.  Maybe it’s because I’m a life-long New Englander, or because I grew-up going to the ocean every summer, or because I’m a water sign, or because the ocean never fails to put it all into perspective, and feel like a beyond nourishing and calming presence…but for me connecting with that ocean energy for just a few months a year never feels like enough! Hence the creation of Beach Rose-Seaweed Bath salts, which I affectionately call “mermaid bath salts.”  This is basically the ocean in a bottle!

 

These are so easy to make, and I really do encourage you all to make your own!  To make about about 1 quart of bath salts you'll need....

20-25 Beach Rose (Rosa rugosa) blossoms
2 handfuls of seaweed
1 handful of shells of choice
1.25 lbs of sea salt

Start by gathering your Beach Rose (Rosa rugosa) blossoms, but before you start picking take some time to sit with the plant. Engage with your senses- the smells, sounds, feelings, tastes (yes, taste the plant!) and sights. Try to align your energy with the roses. Simple tools for this include exchanging breath with rose (remembering we breathe in what they breath out, and vice versa!).  You can also sketch or photograph the plant, journal about your experience, nibble on a petal or leaf, meditate with it, or just take a little nap with it! These are all valid ways of engaging with the energy of a plant.  When you feel like you’ve tapped into rose’s energy, ask if you can harvest, and if you get a “yes” then go for it! It’s ok if you don’t get a clear voice in your head- just a feeling that it’s “right” is enough.   I prefer to harvest the whole flower, as opposed to just the petals, for this particular preparation. Next collect your seaweed- any kind will do. I prefer to take what has washed-up or is floating in the water as opposed to harvesting the living seaweed from the rocks as much as possible.  You can gather some special shells to add if you like- this year I added some of my beloved moon snails. And of course- as always- feel free to play around with this recipe and make it your own!

Once you’ve gathered your materials, you’re ready to make your bath salts!  The process is simple and takes 5 minutes. Start by adding about a 1 inch layer of sea salt to the bottom of your jar. You can use fine or coarse, Celtic, Himalayan, or any kind really. One of my current favorite sea salt brand is Redmond’s Real Salt, which comes from salt flats from ancient oceans in Utah! But in my wildest dreams I’m using my own homemade sea salt I’ve made myself by cooking down the seawater, but that time hasn’t come for me yet! Next add a ½- 1 inch layer of the roses, seaweed, and a sprinkling of shells if you’d like. Then add another layer of salt until the plant material is covered, then another rose/seaweed/shell layer, and so on, ending with a 1 inch layer of sea salt at the top! Cap and let sit at least a week before use. It will have the heady smell of seaweed and rose when it’s done.

Misty morning in Maine

Misty morning in Maine

When you’re ready to take your mermaid bath (I prefer to use mine in the dead of the New England winter when I need that summer and ocean connection, and the comforting feeling of the sea), add as much as you want to your bath. Be sure to add the roses and seaweed right into the bath too where they will re-hydrate for full mermaid effect!  (You can get little mesh screens that fit over your drain for easy clean-up.)  Sit in your bath and dream summer dreams and memories, and relax in the nourishment the beach and essence of summer has to give! And of course both rose and seaweed are emollients, and deeply nourishing and softening to the skin! 

Happy high summer to you all!

Beach Rose Love

Beach Rose Love

Ashwagandha-Spiced Ghee

I was inspired to share this recipe after sharing it with a client this morning. This is my favorite way to take Ashwagandha and great for folks who are weary of taking tinctures, tablets and capsules.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a such a wonderful herb.  It comes to Western Herbalism by way of Ayurveda, where it is known as a Rasayana- a supreme tonic herb. It supports the nervous system and helps reduce stress and anxiety and, if taken over time, will promote restful sleep and good energy endurance during the days with fewer crashes and lows.   As an adaptogen, it also helps support an appropriate stress response, taking us from a chronic state of "flight or fight" into a state where we can better manage and roll with the day-to-day stresses of life.  It's a wonderful herb to add to your daily protocol for just about anyone living in the stress of our modern world! The addition of the spices in this recipe supports assimilation and digestion, and add a nice flavor too. It's so easy to make your own and can be a great part of a daily health routine.

Ashwagandha-Spiced Ghee

1 2/3rd cups ghee
1/2 cup Ashwagandha powder
2 tsp Ginger pwd
2 tsp cinnamon pwd
2 tsp cardamom pwd
2 tsp rose petal pwd
Raw honey to taste (optional)

1 2/3 cups ghee is the amount of ghee you will get from cooking down 1 lb of butter, and is also the same amount of ghee in the jar size it is commonly sold in. Combine the herbs and ghee in a pan. Put on low and mix the herbs into the ghee as it melts. Be careful not to burn the herbs. Heat gently for 4-5 minutes. Then pour into a heat-resistant jar, like a mason jar. Add raw honey to taste if desired. Stir occasionally as it cools to ensure that the herbs are evenly mixed into the ghee. A medicinal dose is 3 tsp/day. Eat straight, put on toast, add to warn grains, put in coffee or tea, or use for cooking.

Enjoy!

Nourishing Your Earth Element

 

Many of us think about the wheel of the year in 4 parts- the 4 seasons.  But in Chinese 5-Element Theory there are 5 seasons, each corresponding to a specific element.  The fifth season many of us miss is the one we are currently in, Late Summer, which is associated with the Earth Element. We'll be in this season until Fall Equinox.

The Earth element= Nourishment.  So this is a time of deep nourishment, when the rewards of self-care can be doubled. And it's a beautiful time, when sometimes time even seems to stand still. And indeed it is the tipping point- the fulcrum- between the outward and dynamic yang seasons of Spring and Summer, and the more inward, yin seasons of Fall and Winter.

So it's a time to regain balance.

The key to taking advantage of this natural seasonal influence of the season is to nourish our Earth Element, and harmonize with this balancing and stabilizing energy of the Late Summer. So how do we do it? Keep reading!


LATE SUMMER & THE EARTH ELEMENT

Keywords and Phrases: Center, the middle, balance, simplicity, harmony, tranquility, fulcrum, no extremes, unity, dreamlike, listen to the subtle currents, the tipping point in-between the yin and yang months

Sound: Singing
Color: Yellow
Sense: Taste
Flavor: Sweet
Emotion: Sympathy
Climate: Moist
Direction: Center
Indicator: Lips
Time of Day: Late Afternoon
Time of Life: Adulthood, Parenthood

  • Food Energetics- Avoid complicated dishes. Food should be prepared simply with a minimum or seasonings and ingredients, and should have a mild taste. Moderation in cooking time, amount of water or oil used, and cooking temperature. It's best to share food during this season with community and loved ones.
     
  • Flavor- Mildy sweet. In 5-Element Theory there is also an organ associated with each element, the Chinese Spleen being paired with the Earth element.  These are very different from our classic western anatomical organs, even though they have similar names, and are not actual physical organs in our body, although they each do still play a vital function in this ancient and sophisticated system of medicine.  The sweet flavor strengthens the Chinese Spleen and the Earth Element, enhancing our ability to absorb nutrients, and also digest not just the physical, but also the emotional. The Spleen in the main organ of assimilation, and when it is strong nutrients are properly absorbed Qi is created and disseminated to all the other organs in the body.  Here's a neat way to look at this- Think about common phrases in our language- "They've really got a lot on their plate," "She bit off more than she could chew," "I just couldn't stomach it," "I'm going to ruminate on that a bit," and so on.... 
     
  • Best Foods- We want foods that harmonize our center and help us balance the influences of the other four seasons. To do this favor foods that are mildly sweet (not sugar), round and a golden/yellow color. Good examples include corn, millet, carrots, chickpeas, winter and summer squash, asian pears, cucumbers, sweet yellow tomatoes, sunchokes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, sweet rice, rice.  Even just having a bowl of these fruits and vegetables as a centerpiece on your table is nourishing to the Earth element.
     
  • Best Herbs- Not surprisingly, with the theme of nourishment, the best herbs for this season and element are the oh-so-nourishing tonic herbs, which are sweet! These are our powerful adaptogens (a class of herbs that nourish the nervous system, enhance immunity, increase longevity and vitality, and balance hormones), like Licorice/ Gan Cao (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), American Ginseng/ Ren Shen* (Panax quinqefolius) *use organic only NEVER wildcrafted, Astragalus/Huang Qi (Astragalus membranaceus), and Codonopsis/Dang Shen (Codonopsis pilosula). Taken now, these tonic herbs can help prepare our bodies for the transition into the cooler months of Fall and Winter, bolstering our systems. Other sweet herbs that are wonderful include Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), Fennel Sd (Foeniculum vulgare), Oatstraw & Milky Oat Tops (Avena sativa), Marshmallow rt (Althaea officinalis), and Basil (Ocimum basilicum).

 

  • Best Lifestyle Practices- The Earth Element is nourished by routine, ritual, time with friends, especially meals. It is also nourished by giving, so a person with a healthy Earth Element often gives much to the community. But in order to avoid burn-out (which Earth types are quite susceptible to) they also have to give to themselves. This is so important! And this is why the Earth Element is so nourished by self-care. This could be extra sleep, yoga, meditation, baths, walks in the woods, time with friends, or even a pedicure or nice hair cut! The point is that you're giving to yourself, with no strings attached.

And here's the kicker.....

Since we're in the Late Fall, the time of the Earth Element, this is the best time time to take advantage of the natural seasonal influence and give back to ourselves, especially if you are an activist, healer, teacher, community organizer, mother or father, care-giver, or anyone who spends a lot of their time giving to other people!

So, enjoy the season and make it a late summer full of self-love and self-care.


References & Resources

The Web That Has No Weaver
By Ted J. Kaptchuk

Staying Healthy with the Seasons
By Elson M Haas

Healing With Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Medicine
By Paul Pitchford

Living Medicine
Larken Bunce, Clinical Herbalist

Chris Marano, Clinical Herbalist