Olfactory memories are powerful things. The other day I was at the feed store picking up cat food, and as I walked out, I caught a waft of chewing tobacco. Even before I could identify what I was smelling, my feet stopped walking and my Grandpa Albert—who is many years gone—popped into my head. There in my mind’s eye, he was in his overalls, with a plug of tobacco in his pocket, snuggling small-me in his lap, playing the penny counting game we used to play. This relationship between scent, emotion, and memory is hardwired in our brains—our olfactory bulb routes the smell information it receives to the limbic system, including the areas of our brain directly related to emotion and memory. This is why just a whiff of scent took me back decades and flooded me with the same warmth and comfort I experienced playing games with my beloved grandpa. These powerful connections are a fundamental factor in why aromatherapy can be supportive in managing mood and stress because what we smell literally impacts our brains… all of which brings me in a roundabout fashion to potpourri.
With the holidays soon upon us, it’s time to start preparing for my seasonal lycii (goji) berry winter cocktail. As I mentioned in the fall, my adventures with herb-infused spirits started with a remarkable hibiscus-infused martini that I had at one of my favorite local brewpubs. I was so inspired; I now have a stock of mason jars full of herb-infused liquors ready for whatever mood my friends and family might be in. For the holiday season, I wanted to create an herb-infused cocktail that would have a brilliantly red, festive color and a delicious sweet-tart flavor profile. Healthful lycii berries turned out to be the perfect answer!Read More
Looking for holiday gift ideas and activities for at-home kids? Me too! As a mother of a five-year-old I am constantly on the prowl for engaging, fun, and educational activities. After years of teaching nature education, I have found some useful tips to engage kids of all ages, abilities, and group sizes!Read More
Candlelight is an element of winter holidays all over the world. Whether part of someone’s deeply held spiritual or cultural practices—as during Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Diwali—or representative of age-old Winter Solstice and Christmas traditions, candles are, for many of us, a fundamental part of our winter festivities… which means it’s a perfect time to make easy homemade scented candles in preparation for the celebrations, decorating, and gift giving.Read More
In our modern western culture, caffeine makes our world go round. There is nothing quite like waking up to the gurgling aroma of coffee percolating in a machine while my mouth waters and my brain begs for that bitter taste to fully wake me up. One of my pleasures in working at Mountain Rose Herbs has been finding alternative ways of getting those caffeine boosts, including our organic black, organic white, and green teas, yaupon (the only North American plant to contain caffeine), and organic yerba mate. However, there is one plant that surpasses all of these in its stimulating abilities – guarana seed.Read More
There’s nothing that puts pep in my step quite the way my morning coffee does. The earthy, roasted aroma and flavor sends signals to my brain that it’s time to “perk” up and get into productivity mode. Knowing what amazing things aromatherapy is capable of doing for our bodies, I wanted to create a way to enjoy this feeling without having that second or third cup of roasted goodness. Lip balm seemed like the perfect candidate as it’s a self-care product that I use often, and I’m always looking for fun and creative lip balm recipes to try. I also appreciate that I can use it as often as I like with no risk of the coffee jitters! This unique lip balm also makes a great gift for your favorite coffee lover.
Remember that cute ditty “Banana Pancakes” by Jack Johnson? That was the jam back in the day. I always presumed the banana pancakes he was referring to were just plain ol’ pancakes with sliced bananas on top. Or perhaps some chunks of bananas thrown into the batter. Well, a couple of years ago after being prompted by the Jack Johnson tune, my co-worker told me how she makes banana pancakes. One banana, two eggs. That’s it. So simple, easy and delicious. And an additional bonus: grain-free (if you care about that sort of thing). I’ve been making these pancakes for my family ever since, with a couple of additional ingredients, my current favorite being pumpkin pie spice!Read More
When I go to the store, hankering for a delicious and healthy snack, mixed roasted nuts always seem like a good call. That is, until I look at the exorbitant price tag and I settle for whatever plain nut is available (preferably on sale). I discovered something though; you can get that wonderful mixed nut experience without the hefty price tag. All it takes is about 20 minutes of your time. The bonus is you get to flex those creative culinary muscles, should you choose to get fancy with it.Read More
Hummus is yet another of those kitchen staples that is worth taking the time to learn how to make. It’s versatile, economical, tasty, quick and simple to produce, and keeps in the fridge for at least a week. Look online and you’ll find countless variations on hummus, but there seems to be some consistent ingredients across the board: chickpeas, tahini, lemon, garlic, cumin, salt, and olive oil.Read More
One of the questions that often pops up here on the Mountain Rose Herbs blog is how to make substitutions between dried and fresh herbs. What if your garden bounty is begging to be enjoyed but your recipe calls for dried herbs? Or if you find yourself in the middle of an icy winter with no fresh herbs in sight?Read More