Archive for January, 2012

raganella {hearts} owl & thistle

January 19, 2012

I love the way people connect in this city. You never know who you’re going to meet and where it will lead. A fewmonths ago I found myself on Franklin Ave in Crown Heights. I noticed this sweet little shop called Owl & Thistle and felt compelled to check it out. Upon entering, I knew this was a place after my own heart, with its totally sweet selection of locally sourced goods. I struck up a conversation with the lovely proprietor, Keri, and eventually mentioned my li’l line of products. Not thinking much of it, I went on my merry way. Then just recently I got an email from Keri. She wanted to try out some of the goods. One thing led to another and…

I’m very happy to announce that Raganella’s Botanical Solutions are now available at the Owl & Thistle General Store in Crown Heights! You can find the extremely luscious favorite Sweet Orange & Vanilla Face & Body Cream and our super soothing Sunflower, Comfrey & Lavender Facial Scrub, along with an amazingly curated selection of Brooklyn-made favorites, like McClure’s Pickles (& chips!), Brewklyn Grind Coffee, and Granola Lab Granola, plus a whole lot of great stuff that’s not edible like clothing, jewelry, toys, and stationery.

Owl & Thistle General Store
720 Franklin Ave
Brooklyn NY 11238

Wednesday & Thursday:
12:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Friday & Saturday:
11:00 AM – 8:00 PM

11:00 AM – 7:00 PM


Franklin Ave. stop on the
2, 3, 4, 5, or C trains or the

stop internet censorship from becoming a reality

January 18, 2012

Tomorrow you won’t be able to peruse my website. I’m fading to black in protest against the SOPA and PIPA bills being brought to the Senate on January 24. Many popular websites will be blacking out their sites to let it be known that censorship will not stand.

Learn more about SOPA & PIPA and how you can speak out against them.

come get some lovin’ at the v-day vegan shop-up

January 16, 2012


The number one New Year’s resolution I’ve heard from the people in my circle is this: more self-care. In my book, self-care = self-love. So whether you’ve got someone to shower with oodles of kisses or not this V-day, come on out and treat yourself right with veggie vittles, soaps, teas, and all sorts of lovely plant-based goodies. It’s the Valentine’s edition of the Vegan Shop-up!

Sunday, February 12
noon to 6pm
Pine Box Rock Shop
Grattan St
Bushwick, BK
(off the Morgan Ave L)

I’ll be there with a new love-centered tea blend and love balm, plus all the other amazing teas and extracts and goodies from Raganella’s Botanical Solutions.


Where else can you shop while sipping on a delicious bloody mary?

don’t miss these workshops

January 12, 2012

I’m often asked how I got started doing what I do. It’s not always a short answer. When I trace my path back in time, it leads me to several amazing people and ideas. And they’re not all so obviously related to crafting body care products. Here are some of the people I’ve learned from and continue to learn from, the ideas that inspire me, and the practices I aspire to deeply know. I hope that you’ll take the opportunity to get to know them, too.

Permaculture Design Certification (PDC) course with Andrew Faust
Starting February 18, 2012.

I’m always excited to introduce folks to the ways of permaculture, especially the way Andrew teaches it. You’ll see the world in a whole new light and learn to define things differently, too – from the corporate oligarchy we are governed by to what “sustainability” really means. Andrew just has a different way of putting things, as you’ll see from the two video links below. A message from Andrew Faust & co., below…

Thinking about joining us but want to know more about our course? You can always visit our website, but to immediately get to the heart of what we’re about watch this video and listen to Andrew Faust talk about the beauty that is permaculture and what you will learn in our PDC. Share it with your friends!

Watch: Learning to Live Well with the Earth

Here is another video of Andrew talking at Occupy Wall Street that has been making it’s way around the internet.

Watch: Occupy the Economy

Our entire teaching team is passionate about teaching Permaculture and sharing the tools for positive solutions. From Bill Young the biodiversity specialist who reforested Fresh Kills to Lisa DePiano cooperative business pioneer creating revenue and relationships between bicycle compost pick-up, CSA’s and restaurants, you will learn dynamic ways to create opportunity and abundance wherever you are.

Our Urban Permaculture focus will feature two excellent field trips: one to the extensive green roof laboratory on Randall’s Island with Dwaine Lee of the Horticultural Society and another visiting the community garden’s of the Lower East Side that have been retrofitted to harvest rainwater and reclaim brownfields with Lars Chellberg and Paula Hewit Amram.

Know that we are constantly striving to make each PDC better than the last by continuing to educate ourselves and stay relevant in this dynamic world. Andrew is a true scholar and brings to each student his solid experience from a life of active learning: from deep nature to concrete jungle, from classic tomes to the newest books and theories on evolution.

Speaking of tomes and books, Andrew has a tumblr blog where he is, amongst other things, writing reviews for the many books he reads that contribute to the material he teaches in our course. 

We hope you can join us!

Here’s to our new bright year!
May we all realize our connections and live with a whole heart.

Beekeeping & Urban Homesteading with Meg Paska

Meg is the best! From bees to bunnies, you’ll learn all the basics of urban homesteading from this super smart lady with lotsa heart.

Online Urban Beekeeping 101- 1/22 (3 sessions):
Learn the ins-and-outs of beekeeping from a city-dweller’s perspective. From honeybee anatomy and behavior to pests and diseases to honey harvesting, we’ll cover a full season of beekeeping from Spring through Winter so that you can feel confident starting your first beehive this year!

Growing Edible Mushrooms at Home- 2/12:
In this workshop, you’ll learn how to turn waste into delicious, meaty mushrooms. We’ll make mushroom logs from tree cuttings, grow oyster mushrooms in espresso grounds and discuss stem butt cultivation with salvaged burlap sacks! Students will take home a mushroom log of their own!

Backyard Homesteading Bootcamp- 4/7 (all day):
In this day long workshop, you’ll learn how to turn your small space into a functioning homestead. Learn gardening, composting, chicken and rabbit basics, beekeeping basics, diy home and body care,* homebrewing and food preservation. (*I’ll be leading this part!)

Workshops with Leda Meredith

One of the biggest catalysts for my journey toward a plant-focused lifestyle was one of Leda’s foraging tours in Prospect Park. Get a full list of Leda’s workshops here; below are some of her personal favorites.

Fermentation Workshop in Park Slope, BK

Saturday 11 February 2012 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Did you know that fermented cabbage has more vitamin C than plain old raw cabbage? That you can ferment root vegetables into tasty beers? Here’s how to turn the ho-hum local storage crops of winter into super-healthy, safe, easy to make fermented foods. We’ll cover fermented veggies like sauerkraut, basic alcohol fermentation, and yogurt – making.

Space is VERY limited (as in at my apt.), so please reserve a spot soon if you’re interested.

Herbs, Herb Gardens, & Herbalism @NYBG

4 Wednesdays January 18 – February 8 2012 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Study the history of herbalism and herb garden design. Take an in-depth look at some of the most historically important herbs, their uses, and cultivation requirements. Ancient as well as contemporary uses of individual herbs are discussed. A visit to the LuEsther T. Mertz Library to view centuries-old herbals completes the class.

Ehtnobotany of Our Native Flora @NYBG

2 Fridays, 27 January & 3 February 2012 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

From spicebush to wild ginger, sassafras to trillium, our region is rich in culinary and medicinal plants largely neglected in contemporary use. Learn the historical use of these plants by native Americans, the Shakers, and other settlers. Plant identification and uses as well as sustainable harvesting techniques will be covered. Dress for the weather.

The Art of Herbal Medicine Making with Robin Rose Bennett

This class is amazingly fun. You’ll get hands-on experience making your very own herbal medicine with plants growing in our bioregion. Robin is so lovely, and has a wealth of herbal healing knowledge.

There is nothing as empowering as making your own medicines. Crafting your own herbal preparations will save you lots of money, and you will feel healthier and happier than ever before. In this class we will work with fresh (and some dried) herbs, making several types of tinctures (with and without alcohol), liniments, oils, infusions, vinegars, syrups, salves, decoctions, poultices, compresses, fomentations, and more! Robin Rose will share some of her favorite recipes and most effective remedies. Herbs are magical, but preparing and using them doesn’t have to be mystifying. Come enjoy a fun, enriching experience, and then do try this at home!

Note: A $15 materials fee is payable to the teacher at the first session.

(6 sessions) Thursdays, April 5–May 17, 8–10pm
No class on April 12.
12WHN28T For CEUs click here
Members: $200 / Nonmembers: $215



love the earth, recycle your tree

January 4, 2012

I love this planet, don’t you? We have everything we need right here. Water to keep us hydrated, cleansed, and renewed. Food to energize our bodies. Plants to inspire us and encourage our natural healing abilities… and so much more. So how can we bow down and show our deepest respect to this life-giving mother of a planet? Take only what we need and give back what we are finished benefitting from.

I thoroughly enjoy having a Yuletide (or Christmas, if you prefer) tree during the winter holidays. It brings me joy to smell the fresh resinous scent of evergreen, to cover the tree in shiny heirloom ornaments, to light up our home in the darkness. We drive to a tree farm in New Jersey that does not spray chemicals on their trees. We carefully choose our tree and thank it for providing us with festive feelings. My sweetheart cuts it and we bring it home. The boughs we trim from the tree go into oil for healing salves, in vinegar (for vitamin C), and in alcohol for a stimulating tincture. When the holidays are over and the tree has lost its luster, we carefully pack away the decorations. Then we bring it to the community garden and have it mulched. Our tree will return to the soil. It will slowly break down, providing organic matter, slowly percolating water to roots, modulating the ground temperature for trees and perennial shrubs. Our tree will not be sent to a landfill in a plastic bag. It is not trash.

If you have a tree that you’ve finished celebrating, please recycle it. This weekend, January 7 & 8, NYC Department of Parks and Recreation is holding its annual Mulchfest. Bring your tree to a participating park or garden and return it to the earth. Thank you!

(Alternatively, NYC Department of Sanitation says they’ll recycle your tree – just make sure it is completely naked when you put it on the curb. Collection will be up until January 14.)

PS. Please, do not do this with your tree:

happy new year! (and 2012 intentions)

January 3, 2012

{let’s show some love for 2012!}

It’s kinda funny, I’m still coming to terms with the fact that it’s now 2012. 2011 is over. And though a part of my brain is feeling whirled by this realization, the rest of me is ready for this new beginning. I’ve reflected on the happenings of the last year and now it’s time for visioning.

Many people poo-poo the idea of making resolutions, and have come up with cute euphemisms that carry similar meaning. I’ve been using the word “intentions” (which according to the thesaurus, is a direct synonym of “resolution”). Perhaps there is more of a bullishness with resolving rather than intending. Resolve is definite; intent is potential and flexible. Breaking resolutions can leave a feeling of guilt or failure. Missing an intention is more forgiving, as intentions aim at a goal – they aren’t set in stone.

Whatever you like to call it, setting goals just feels natural during the darker, inward-reflecting days of winter. So here are some of the directional shifts I’d like to take in 2012.

1. approach the unknown with curiosity.

A subtle twist on the phrase in the image above (via improvised life via imaginary foundation). “The unknown” is vast territory. Precisely what can make it feel so scary. And this fear of the unknown, or rather, the reaction to the fear, can be detrimental. The fear reaction creates mental blocks, physical and emotional pain, and renders opportunities unrecognizable. Instead of feeling all angsty or speculative about emerging situations, I plan on observing with a loving, curious, beginner’s mind as events unfold. I want to dance with the unknown.

“You know that you know nothing. Find out that knowledge. That is liberation.” ~ Ramana Maharshi

2. more self-care
Mainly, this is about listening to my body. This can be as simple as: Am I tired? Sleep. (This is the perfect time of year to abide by this bodily request!) Am I thirsty? Drink water. Or it can be a bit more nuanced: Am I anxious? Sit in meditation or drink a lavender infusion. Listen to soothing music. Breathe.

Other self-care rituals I will incorporate:

Monthly – massage, a visit to the Russian baths

Weekly – Pilates, Yoga, African Dance, Belly Dance

Daily – meditation, foot massage (with my peppy-mint foot cream!), herbal infusions, skin brushing, drawing, writing, Tai Chi

3. simplify, and keep it simple

It seems the self-improvement genre is awash in “decluttering” guides and “101 ways to simplify your life.” But how do you declutter and keep it that way? I’ve found it fairly easy to find new homes for things that take up space or collect dust. What I want to do is keep new stuff from finding its way into our home. This is a biggie that I want to keep track of this year. The one difficulty in this for me is that I make products. There are always shipments of ingredients and packaging arriving at our doorstep. Always boxes to unpack and recycle. And lots of stuff to store. I aim to be more efficient with the management of this stuff, too.

4. more face time, less facebook

I hate to admit it, but I love facebook. It’s a fun way to interact with friends, share ideas or what I’m up to, perhaps be a little voyeuristic. But it’s become my landing page, in a compulsive-habitual way that I don’t feel good about. I’ve gone on digital detoxes before, but I always come back to facebook – with a vengeance. My goal here is to make more time to see my friends’ actual faces, to be in their  living-breathing presence, rather than sit all day at the computer staring at their avatars. Friends, please hold me to this one!

These are just some of the ways I’d like to make my year more meaningful. What do you have planned for 2012?