Plant a Magical Tea Garden
Wanting to invite a bit of plant magic into your life? Consider planting a tea garden. I love to drink herbal teas and for the past few years I've been making my own. This is especially lovely in the summer growing months as you can wander in your garden picking flowers and leaves to steep. Each day you pick you get a slightly different blend. That’s the start of the magic. Once your batch of petals have steeped you have a delicious and refreshing drink. Perfect hot, lukewarm or with ice. One pot is good for the day.
You don’t need to invest a lot of money for this delightful activity. Plants for sure and also a teapot with a stainless steel strainer. You could use a smaller tea strainer but a teapot with a larger strainer means you can use bigger pieces and not worry about stems. A well crafted teapot is an excellent investment.
Beyond the sheer pleasure of drinking your homemade brew making your own tea is an act of sustainability. “Believe it or not, the humble teabag often contains a non-biodegradable plastic called polypropylene, which releases billions of microplastic particles every time you brew a cuppa.” We are learning more each day about how invasive plastic is in our daily life and any chance we get to eliminate plastic is an opportunity we should take. In the long run, you will also save money while adding a bit of pleasure and ritual to your day. Tea making will become an act you look forward to.
Here’s a list of my favorite plants. No worries if you don’t have a lot of space, these plants will do fine in a container.
Peppermint- this is the backbone of my herb blend. Super fresh taste and very, very easy to grow- that means it can be invasive so choose your spot carefully. What I love about the mints besides being easy to grow is they add bulk as well as flavor.
Fancy mint- this can be a flavored mint, my favorite is Pineapple but there are many varieties. Wander the herb aisle at your favorite garden shop to find the variety for you. In my garden zone these tend to be a bit tender and often will not over winter.
Chamomile- has a mellow, gentle flavor slightly “appley” flavor and known to help you relax, even get sleepy. You can scatter seeds and lightly cover with soil or transplant. Chamomile often selfs sows so keep your eye out the following spring.
Calendula- this bright orang/yellow flower is pure sunshine and happiness. Their favor is a bit spicy and peppery adding a nice tang to your brew. It’s a very sturdy, forgiving plant and can adapt to a lot of different soil types and selfs sows.
Lavender- has a bright floral flavor, too much is considered “soapy” but it’s one of my favorite additions to my brew. It’s important to pick the right variety for your area as it’s a perennial. Be sure to ask at your garden center for the variety that’s right for your area.
Brewing your own tea is an easy way to add a peaceful ritual to your day, add a bit of flavor to your life and to enjoy a plastic free, very sustainable drink. ENJOY!
Happy Val Pal
Did you happen to see our posts about Val Pal? It was an idea to help me change my own personal narrative about how crummy I find February and Valentine’s Day.
It started last fall while listening to a podcast hosted by two young women. It was February of the previous year and most of the conversation centered around love- not so much the traditional image of Valentine love. The romance of a couple eating out, surrounded by roses and chocolates. It was centered on loving your self in order to be able to love others.
At one point they asked each other what advice the’d give their younger self. This made me chuckle, they both sounded like they were in their early 30’s. I can’t remember the advice they gave but it definitely got me thinking about the stories I tell myself about my past in particular. I decided to change my February story and that’s the root of Val Pal.
The way Val Pal works is simple and straight forward. Commit to sending a stranger a piece of mail by Feb 10th. You could buy a card from a local artist or maker or make something yourself. I was so pleased by the response and positive energy Val Pal generated. So many folks were excited to have a small project to focus on and to send something sweet out into the universe.
While it’s wonderful to send out positive vibes into the universe many of us, including myself, struggle with sending kindness to ourselves. An article I found particularly helpful was Self-Kindness: Upgrade Your Thinking on the Modern Daily Knitting blog. It started me on my journey of awareness. With the first step of talking to myself like a toddler when I went into my old patterns of negativity. It’s so much easier to be kind to others!
I’ll definitely do Val Pals again next year and hope you’ll join us.
For the love of Maine- The Story of Shower Shots
We are at the hallway point between winter and spring which seems an ideal time to share our love of Maine and the story of shower shots. Shower shots are small nuggets filled with pure essential oils and topped with our flower confetti. They are simple, sustainable self care. Perfect for someone who is looking to add a bit of ritual and thought into everyday activities- like taking a shower.
When we started Dulse & Rugosa our focus was on our seaweed rich shampoo bars. I discovered the power of seaweed while searching for a long term solution to my chronically itchy scalp. Our shampoo bars are work horses and last a long time. We realized we needed to expand our product line to help that annoying bottom line. We have bills to pay.
We wanted a product that served many purposes. First, it needed to be of value to our customers. We also needed a product that fit our environmental standards. A product that’s a joy to create. Finally, our creation needed to reflect our love of place, the state of Maine.
Folks often ask how shower shots work. Simply place a “shot” on the floor of the shower. As the water hits it, it will dissolve. Quickly with a heavy stream of water or slowly under a trickle. As it dissolves, it melts and releases a specific scent. Aromatherapy in the shower.
We have a variety of scents, some to relax including lavender and feel better. Others to uplift including peppermint and sinus relief. PMS or Balance is our most quirky scent, when you most need it it can be quite powerful but if life is fairly balanced it can be a bit UH. We package all our shots as sustainable as possible in compostable not plastic bags. Individual shots are available as well as curated gift boxes.
The actual making of shower shots is production work. We are small assembly line. We use vintage shot glass molds and a lot of muscle power. Each individual shot is topped with a mixture of dry flowers that relates to the scent. Once the shots have dried out they are packaged and ready for sale.
Last summer in particular I noticed how pollinators loved our flower gardens. Many moments were spent outside simply watching pollinators in action. We don’t have to add dried flowers to our shower shots. Most companies that produce them do not. We do it simply because we love flowers and want to add a bit of beauty and love to your shower ritual.
We use a wide variety of flowers. We look for hardy species that can take the changing Maine climate. Wet springs and fall with dry almost drought conditions in the summer. Being able to reseed is an added bonus and we love sunny Calendula for its resiliency.
My favorite story from last summer is a customer visiting our sweet shop noticed all the bees in our front garden. He was memorized and mentioned he hadn’t seen so many bees for years. I encouraged him to sit in the nearby chair and simply observe. I often wondered while sitting if the different species would be able to share a blossom. They can giving me hope for the future.
We’ve noticed since Covid that our quality can be erratic. Occasionally a shower shot will “melt”. We’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out the problem. One easy solution would be to switch our packaging to plastic which would also save us money. This wasn’t even considered. After quite a bit of observing and tinkering we discovered that we sometimes get wonky batches of baking soda. Being super frugal we try not to waste ingredients but now if we see the baking soda is off we don’t use it. However, because of the compostable packaging, storage conditions, humid summers you might get a melty shower shot. Simply let us know and we will gladly replace it. You don’t have to toss the defective shower shot, use it as a toilet bowl cleaner. This is especially effective before company arrives.
Maine shops that support Dulse & Rugosa and sell our shower shots. I know I’ve forgotten a few and I’ll update as my memory from the summer kicks in. And word of mouth is by far the best way to grow a business, if you have a favorite store where our shower shots would fit please mention us to the staff. XXOO
Granite Hall Store in Round Pound
Sheepscott General in Whitefield
Seven Years of Zero Waste
I’ve written about my zero waste journey beginning in 2017. Mostly in the forms of lists ‘cause that’s how I roll. Each year, I added an action until Covid. We all know how challenging that was!
If you are wanting to start 2023 by reducing a bit of your trash- go back and read any of the blogs. All the info is valid, you will have to makes tweaks to fit your life style. Please remember going zero waste is like any goal or accomplishment, it’s a dance. Two steps forward, one back, a bit of spinning in the same space and then two steps forward.
I’m not going to add to that list but I’d love to hear your suggestions and strategies. Instead I'm sharing another list with ideas about how to help address the imbalance in our economy.
I believe if you want to help heal our planet one step you can take is to “buy local, shop indie”. Sure I’m biased because I have a small business but I have a small business because I want the world to be a better place.
Here’s my list of ways to support small and indie businesses-
Word of mouth really matters- take the time to tell others about your favorite businesses and why you like them.
Sign up for emails- in the ever changing word of social media an email list is a godsend to a small business, it’s where they can actually connect with people who are interested in their product or service
Unsubscribe from emails you never open. In order to sent out batches of emails you need to subscribe to an email server and you pay for the service. If you are on someone’s list but never open an email you still count in terms of payment. It’s very helpful for a small company to have you unsubscribe because they safe money and you will stop getting an email that you’re not interested in.
Post a nice comment on social to help the algorithms used in social media sites. The way this works is a site limits access to how many folks can see a post because they want to make money. Liking, sharing and commenting on a post makes it more “popular” and visible.
Post a picture and tag a business to help spread the word.
Use locations and hashtags, another way to help a business be visible on social media.
Write reviews and share your positive experience. If your experience was negative contact the business first before posting on social media. Social media thrives on negativity so post with caution and kindness.
Say “thank you” whenever possible and be understanding with problems. Chances are if you have a problem you’ll get way better service and results than with a big business.
Buy gift cards especially at busy holiday seasons. It can be quite challenging in today’s ever changing world to keep items stocked and gift cards do help.
When it’s time to make a purchase investigate options and if possible buy small, local and indie first before giving all the big boys your money.
Consider a subscription service. Similar to a CSA for farms a subscription service helps weather the year during slower times. Subscription services are also a great way to support a creative that you admire. The way social media works makes it easy to expect information and inspiration for free but it’s a lot of work and a subscription helps someone stay creative.
Enjoy your zero waste journey and share your success.