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House Plant Happy

January 17, 2017 1 Comment

kitchen bromeliad

kitchen bromeliad

dining table

dining table

Growing plants is a joy and an art. I enjoy gardening outdoors, but lately I have been reading about improving air quality indoors with house plants. I used to have a large variety of plants in the house, but during the last few years I tried growing orchids.  They are beautiful while blooming, but require very consistent and careful care in order to make them bloom again.  I have killed a couple, and finally after over a year barren, one is sprouting a new flower.  I will not expand on my orchid collection.  I don’t think I have the appropriate amount of patience, and they don’t really want to live in Arizona.  I read that lavender and English ivy are extra active at cleaning the air at night, so I bought those two for my bedroom.  As soon as they were in place I noticed how happy they make me when I see them.  I am sleeping very well, but am not sure the plants really contribute to that.  They are cheery and alive.  If I take care of them properly they will grow and fill my space with more fragrance and clean air.  What is not to like? They are little happiness producers.

I did some transplanting and moving of the existing house plants before I ventured out to the nursery to purchase a few more living decorations.  I did not want to splurge much financially, and even less on space.  Lucky for me, small tropical plants were discounted as were the small bromeliads.  My entire purchase, complete with new pots and saucers, and a new hanging uranium for outside, was just over $50.  Now my whole home is upgraded.  The green dashes of optimistic color cheer me up and remind me of the power of nature to survive.  I do have a very green yard outside the windows, but bringing these little living jungles inside has changed my mood.  I am uplifted by their presence.

Winter doesn’t last long in Tucson, but during the dark time of year we need a little light and cheer to remind us that spring is right around the corner.  I fill the humming bird feeders and light the fire in the wood stove. while darkness turns slowly to light.  I listen to beautiful music and light a few candles in the evening to create a cozy feeling. The plants have added a sweet touch to the space. Do you grow houseplants, gentle reader?  Do you have a favorite?

Alexa's palm tree

Alexa’s palm tree


Lemon Verbena, Aloysia Triphylla

June 29, 2014 2 Comments

My favorite herb in the garden is lemon verbena. I like to make tea with it all the time, but there are many other uses for this luscious herb.  As a bath herb it brightens and refreshes the body and mind.  The fragrance is used extensively in perfumery for the lemony zest it adds.  In cooking it creates a lemon taste with no bitterness or aftertaste.  It can be added to baked goods, salad dressings, drinks, sauces, and fruit salads to brighten a dish.  Simple syrup of lemon verbena is useful for many drink and popsicle recipes with or without alcohol. Mixed with citrus fruit it becomes a big flavor enhancer.  Rice pilaf, carrot cake, gazpacho, and other dishes can benefit from a pinch of this delicious herb. Store it in a glass jar in the dark to preserve freshness.

I love herbal bathing as retreat and meditative practice.  The first one I tried about 20 years ago was rosemary bath.  I brewed a strong tea of rosemary and added it to my bath.  This method works well, as does the brewing of the tea in the tub by running hot water over a sachet, allowing it to steep, then filling the tub.  When you choose the herbs and when you enter the water you can make the entire process a mindfulness experience.  Drinking tea made with the same herbs will enhance the aromatic sensory intake.  I am planning to take some baths this week with matching beverages and bath herbs.  If you have a favorite herb you can try this at home.  If the bath is taking place at the cocktail hour I think it is suitable to include the herb in a tasty concoction from the bar that aligns with the indented purposes.

  • To energize- bath of lemon verbena and roses-lemon verbena lemonade to sip in the tub
  • For abundance- bath of basil and mint-apricot shrub, fizzy water with mint to drink
  • For grounding and memory-bath of bay leaves, rue and rosemary-watermelon/rosemary water

These are ideas for you to design your very own aroma world to enliven your senses and change your mood.  There is an art to choosing herbs for the desired mood, but there are very few side effects that inhibit experimentation.  If you like an herb you can research it fully or simply determine that it is not toxic, then try it in a bath.  The effectiveness may surprise you.  When all the pores of your skin are soaking in the active ingredients the results are swift. Bringing to the mind’s eye the results you want to see is the strongest link that brings this practice into the meditational realm.  By creating sensory stimulation and awareness at once we step out of our normal situation and into synesthsia of our own design.  We use the aroma as an anchor for our meditation.  At the least you can enjoy smelling and feeling bit better from the herbal bath.  At the most it can be a rebirth and transformation.

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