Archive for the ‘blog’ Category

happy new year intentions

January 7, 2013

Happy New Year!

I’m often awake in the wee hours these days, tending to my babe. During this time I’m often thinking deeply about what kind of world he is inheriting – and what my role is in making sure it’s a healthy world for him and all children.

One early morning at around 5am, the saying popped into my head that will be my mantra for 2013:
If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

This rolled around in my head quite a bit as I thought about all of the ways I could live it this year. What are the problems we face today? Violence, oppression, pollution (air, water, soil), apathy, dis-ease (most often tied to the aforementioned problems) and more. So in no particular order, here is what came to me as some possible ways to “live the solution”:

1. Be a living example of peace
2. Say no to plastic in all forms (polyester, polyethylene, etc.) – a post on this coming soon
3. Eat more veggies – organically and locally grown
4. Support more local artisans who create handmade goods on a small scale
5. More facetime and less facebook (and other social media)
6. Go minimalist
7. Live more in awe and wonder of every moment
8. Carry no attachment to expectations

My goal is to spend less time online with fast & easy answers and make more room for spontaneous living. And to focus more on my little guy rather than my smartphone.

Along this vein, I’m also going to close up my Etsy shop for a while so that I’m not tied to the computer and post office. Some of my goods will be available locally at Owl & Thistle in Crown Heights and The One Well in Greenpoint. The occasional bulk order is welcome, too.

I’m looking forward to how my days will take shape. If I have a chance I’ll write a bit about this shift… but more than likely this blog will be quiet for a bit.

May your intentions for the new year be of benefit!

vivid visions video on nyc-life channel

December 7, 2012

Hey all! If you live in the NYC area and have the NYC-Life channel, you can catch the video that made Vivid Visions famous! Food Curated airs tomorrow (Saturday 12.8 at 12:30pm) and features all things potable, including Vivid Visions, Captain Lawrence Pumpkin brew, Jo Snow Syrups, and more. If you don’t have NYC-TV, you can catch these videos on Food.Curated, too!

Also, I’ve re-opened my Etsy shop on a limited basis. Vivid Visions is sold out for now, but I’ll have more available next week. Stay tuned!

[^^^me on TV!]

fear & the future, a message from colin beavan (aka, no impact man)

November 5, 2012

In light of Frankenstorm Sandy, I’ve been thinking a ton about our future and resilience. What’s happening now – mass power outages, flooding, gas rationing, displaced people – in my view, is just a taste of what’s to come in our fossil-fuel-dependent society. Which is why when I saw this post on facebook from Colin Beavan (aka No Impact Man) I had to share. Please take the time to read it through. Now is the time for solutions and we all have something to contribute! Also, tomorrow is election day. And while I don’t think politicians are going to solve the climate crisis, I think it’s important to at least support the candidates (local & national) who at the very least aren’t denying or ignoring the realities of climate change. Now is not the time for apathy. Get out and vote!


Dear friends,

I don’t say this often but I am scared. Not scared to the point of paralysis. Not scared enough to run away. Not scared enough to stop trying to help. Not scared enough to think we’re doomed. Just scared enough to feel worried for myself, my family, my friends, my community, my country, and my world.

I was lucky when Hurricane Sandy hit. My daughter Bella and I put on our waterproofs in the early hours and ran around Brooklyn’s Fort Greene park in the wind and rain with Frankie–our dog–and our Occupy Wall Street activist friend/hero Monica Hunken.

That night, the lights flickered a couple of times. I lost my internet for three hours. Frankie the dog hid in the upstairs bathroom bathtub. That was the extent of it.

But when I woke up, lower Manhattan was flooded and without power. All the coastal parts of Brooklyn and Queens from Red Hook to Coney Island through the Rockaways and Hamilton Beach were hammered. The wind had driven a fire through Queens that destroyed so many houses. And the world’s most amazing subway system was brought to its knees. To say nothing of poor Staten Island and coastal New Jersey.

We in the Tri-State Area didn’t get Katrina. But we got a taste of her.

Yes, there are some good parts. New Yorkers have been showing up some of the emergency shelters in such numbers that they have been turned away. There are donation drives and volunteer efforts. And about a gazillion New Yorkers have taken to cycling.

But there is a lot of suffering. And a lot of fear not of what Sandy brought. But of what next year’s storm will bring. And the year after that. And after that. First Irene, now Sandy, for how many years in a row can New York City withstand a “once in a century” storm, people are asking?

I hung up the phone with a friend just a few minutes ago. She said, “In some ways, this is way more scarey than 9/11, because you get the feeling that it could happen again and again and again.”

In a coffee shop this afternoon, everyone at every table was talking about climate change. People are talking about where they will go next time. To an aunt’s in New Hampshire. A friend with three cottages in Maine. People are talking about their escape plan for when New York stops functioning.

Katrina, Irene, Sandy, droughts all summer, busted corn crops, water shortages in the southwest: it’s hard to believe we aren’t seeing what the climate scientists predicted. But sooner. Way sooner than they said.

It feels ironic and sad. That the war in Iraq sparked by 9/11 may have got us what we wanted–control over more oil. But that burning that self-same oil has brought us another mini-9/11. Except that this one we are kind of doing to ourselves.

Fracking–the drilling for natural gas by injecting poisonous chemicals into the same rock formations that our drinking comes from. Fighting in the Middle East. Drilling in the arctic. Mountaintop removal in Appalachia. Mining the Canadian tar sands. Building the pipelines. This is bonkers.

Especially when the sun shines everywhere. The wind blows everywhere. The rivers run everywhere. We can generate our power in better, cheaper, safer ways.

Of course, there are reasons for resistance. Our economy is based on fossil fuels. Changing it would be a gargantuan effort. There would be a cost to a transition. But the costs of not making the transition will be much higher. Ask the NY Mass Transit Authority, which is still pumping out the tunnels. Or ask the citizens of New Orleans.

But this isn’t a bitch fest. It’s an appeal.

Years ago, when I did the No Impact Man experiment, I went on the Good Morning America show and I said it wasn’t important that all Americans did as much as I did. “We must each just do something,” I said.

I was mistaken. We must each do a lot.

We all–including me–have a tendency to think that shaking our fist at the TV news or leaving an angry comment on a blog or “clictivism” is some sort of an expression. We need to do more. Not just more at home, but more in our civic engagement, more in the citizen guiding of how our society moves forward.

In fact, I’d argue that we–all of us–need to find a way to dedicate at least some part of our lives to solving our problems. Climate change we need to fix, yes. But also we need to accept that the economic system we live in is driving that climate change. Consumption, as the basis for economy, has become like a winter coat that needs to be shed. It no longer serves us.

Now, I’m not going to claim that I know what each of us should do, how each of us should help to bring about the Great Transformation. I don’t think anyone exactly knows. This, by the way, was the great criticism of Occupy Wall Street, back in the day. That they didn’t say exactly what we should do. They didn’t make their demands clear, the press kept saying.

That was Occupy’s strength in my view. The willingness to bring attention to problems we don’t quite know the solutions for. Occupy didn’t have concrete demands because none of us quite know what we should be demanding quite yet. Occupy was saying “stop ignoring problems just because we don’t know the solution!!!!!!”

You may disagree with me. You may say, we know the solution, it’s renewable energy. But where is the political will to bring that change about when the fossil fuel industry has spent $150 million in this election cycle?

You may say, the solution is getting corporate money out of politics. But how do we do that when the politicians we need to vote for such a thing are the beneficiaries of that self-same corporate money?

You may say, the solution lies in measuring Gross National Happiness instead of Gross Domestic Product. But how do we get that done?

We have lots of ideas about what would fix things, but we have no idea how to actually get those ideas instituted. That’s kind of where we are at a loss. How do we actually bring about the change?

It’s not to say we can’t bring it about. But it is to say that a lot more of us are going to have to join the search for the solutions and the effort to institute them.

In a way, what I am saying is the same as what Occupy said: “Stop pretending that you can’t help just because you don’t know exactly how to help!!!!!!”

We all have to start dedicating some of our lives to these problems. Not just voting for the right people. Not just leaving comments on blogs. Not just having intense conversations over coffee.

So what then?

Here’s a thought. Decide to dedicate five to ten hours a week to helping figure out what to do. Then use those five to ten hours to bring your personal gifts to the search for societal solutions and the means of implementing them.

If you are political then, whatever side of the aisle you are on, start going to your party’s meetings and insist that they address themselves to the major, new-world problems we are facing instead of grumbling over the same stuff they have for 50 years. Get them to try to be leaders instead of winners.

If you are an artist or musician or writer, use your talents to bring more and more attention to our problems and the quest for the solution. Be a constant reminder of the peril our society and world faces.

If you are a therapist or life coach, find a way to introduce to your clients the idea that the problems they face are the same problems all of us are facing. Financial insecurity, for example, is something we can fix together better than any one of us can fix alone.

If you are a banker, bring your personal values and your heart and soul to work with you. The expression “it’s only business” has to be jettisoned. This idea that the free market will fix things so we can ignore the dictates of our conscience needs to be fixed.

If you have a spare bedroom, find an activist who can’t drag themselves away from the work they are doing for all of us long enough to earn themselves some rent. Home and safety for those on the front line of social change is a wonderful service.

If you have two feet, march with my friends at whenever you have a chance.

All of us have our own ways to help.

One thing is clear, whatever our individual contribution, every one of us needs to be moving back into the political system and the democracy. We are all so disgusted by it that our instinct is to abandon it. In this case, our instinct is wrong. We totally need to Occupy our democracy. We need to flood it with people, with us.

Overall, though, my point here is that all of us have a role to play in our cultural healing. There is no leader who can tell us how to contribute. Each of us has to look around us and use our own minds and souls to see what needs doing and how we are best suited to do it. Each of us must contribute in our own way.

I began this piece by saying that I’m scared. Because I am. But my fear is just a sign that I need to do something. There is really only one thing I know how to do–to write. And so I’m doing it. I don’t know if if will help. But it is the one thing I know how to do.

What is the one thing you know how to do? What is the one thing you can dedicate a slice of your life to?

We can’t leave it to the politicians or the designers or the Occupiers or the activists. It’s up to each of us.

Because–and I’ve said and written this many times–the question is not whether each of us is the type of person who can make a difference. The question is whether we are the type of people who want to try to make a difference. And Sandy has told us we all need each other to try.


PS I’d love to hear in the comments what you are doing or plan to do.

PPS If you want to let your Brooklyn friends know that I’m running for Congress and ask them to vote for me on Tuesday, that would be great too.

mama-power zoom balls for postpartum health

October 3, 2012

I’m in serious nesting mode these days. We’re getting prepared for baby’s arrival in so many ways. I crocheted a sweater, made a mobile, (pictures of both below) and still might eke out a Halloween costume for the little guy.

Most importantly though, we’ve been stocking up on food for labor and afterwards. This will help keep us nourished and healthy so we can really be present for our little one. I made two different kinds of energy bars (recipes here and here) and mixed up two herbal blends to support health and lactation postpartum. My sweetheart made us a rich, nourishing bone broth to use in soups and sauces. We made and froze baked ziti and chili to warm up on those days when we won’t have much energy to cook.

And speaking of energy, I also just whipped up a batch of “zoom balls,” using Rosemary Gladstar’s zoom ball recipe as a rough guide to ratios. I’m calling them “Mama-Power Zoom Balls.” A friend just asked for the recipe, so I figured I’d post it here. These are expressly designed to support mama’s health after birth, a time that is often not honored in our culture. There’s a pretty big focus on the prenatal time and pregnant women get a lot of attention (which I’ve discovered on a personal level over the last few months!). Unfortunately for most parents in the US, the priority is “let’s get that baby out and get back to work.” In this country, partners of the birthing mothers often get no family leave at all and mothers only receive a measly 6 weeks off from work for “medical” reasons. Nowhere in this equation is the vital point that a new human being is being ushered into this world – I’d say this is the most critical and profound time of life. Not to mention these new parents need as much emotional support, rest, and care as they can get at this energy-zapping time. But this is all a much bigger discussion for another time. On to the zoom balls!

Mama-Power Zoom Balls*

(dad’s can enjoy these, too!)

2 cups tahini

1 1/2 cups almond butter

1 cup honey

3 ounces maca root powder

1.5 ounces shatavari root powder

1 oz spirulina

1 oz powdered rose petals

1 oz bee pollen

1/4 to 1/2 cups chocolate chunks (I cut up a good dark chocolate bar)

a pinch of sea salt

powdered cocoa & spices for rolling the finished balls in (I added a tiny touch of cinnamon & cayenne to taste)

*It’s important to use only organic ingredients for the health of mama & baby.


Mix together all wet ingredients. Add in powdered ingredients and bee pollen. Stir well.** Mix in chocolate chunks. Form this mixture into balls about 1 inch in diameter. I might have made mine a bit bigger, but the yield should be somewhere around 35 balls or more, depending on the size you make. Then roll the balls in the powdered cocoa & spice mixture. Set them on a tray and chill them in the fridge. Stack ’em up in a storage container separated by parchment or waxed paper and keep them in the fridge. They should keep for months that way, but you’ll probably eat them all up by then!

**I have this amazing stirring tool called a “spurdle” that makes this an easy task. I wish I had the link to the person who sells them, but this is what they look like:

closing up shop, end of day wednesday!

October 1, 2012

Hey all! I’ve decided it’s time to go on maternity leave. Baby time is nigh and I won’t have much time to put together orders very soon! I’ll be fulfilling orders from my Etsy shop and any wholesale orders until the end of day this Wednesday, October 3. So get them in while you still can!  And be sure to sign up for alerts for when I re-open.

get it while you can – i’ll be going on hiatus soon

September 21, 2012

Hey all! Perhaps some of you aren’t privy to what’s happening in my private life… I’m due to have a baby in about 3 weeks (whoa!). 

Once he arrives, I’ll be taking a bit of time off to cuddle and rest and be in baby bliss land. My shop might be closed for a month or two while we’re spending time bonding as a family. But despair not! There’s still time to get in your orders for Raganella’s Botanical Solutions while he’s safely tucked in my womb and I can walk over to the post office to deliver packages.

I just harvested some gorgeous mugwort in flower for a very special Vivid Visions blend, so jump on over to my Etsy shop for this and other goodies while you still can!

Stay tuned for the exciting news…

new etsy policies & vivid visions

August 8, 2012

Hello my friends. Effective today, August 8, 2012, Etsy has changed their policies to disallow smokable herbs. In addition, herbalist sellers can also no longer make any claims about the healing benefits of the herbal remedies they create (with or without an FDA disclaimer). Take heart, Vivid Visions will still be for sale. It’s still the same product you know and love, but it will no longer have the word “smokable” in the title or description. Also, all of my herbal teas and extracts will have no claims as to their healing benefits (benefits that, in many cases, have been known by humans for millennia). Please feel free to ask me questions about these goods via email or Etsy messages.

Thanks for your understanding!


this saturday – built in brooklyn

August 2, 2012

This Saturday is your one and only chance to catch me and Raganella’s Botanical Solutions at a craft fair this summer. And it’s an all Brooklyn extravaganza… Come on out and support local artisans in your own backyard!

Built in Brooklyn Craft Fair

Saturday, August 4
noon to 6pm

721 Franklin Ave
Crown Heights, BK
2,3,4,5 to Franklin Ave

vacation alert

June 26, 2012

Hey all,

Next week, I’m heading upstate to a sweet little inn on the Hudson River.* I’m keeping my Etsy shop open, just in case you get the urge to order something (like bug spray). If you’d like to receive any items for the 4th of July holiday week, please place your orders by this Thursday, June 28. Any orders placed during the week of July 2 will be fulfilled the following week (July 9).

Thanks and Happy Independence Day!

*Speaking of the Hudson River, and well, all waterways… NY State Governor Cuomo plans to open up hydrofracking in the Southern Tier of the state, near the Pennsylvania border. You can call to oppose the plan at 1-866-584-6799. And when you’re done unloading there, you can bombard his facebook page and twitter feed with a message like: “Please don’t endanger our health and the health of our water, air, and soil… support a ban on fracking now!”

For more on hydrofracking, check out these organizations:

Frack Action

Food and Water Watch

New Yorkers Against Fracking

Water Defense

Catskill Mountainkeeper

support the homestead at seven arrows

June 14, 2012

Last summer, my life was filled with these tiny miracle retreats up in the Catskills. Spending most of my days here in the city, any excursion to expanses of green countryside is welcome and restorative. But what made these trips special was a combination of the company, the work, and the play time. The company: Meg Paska & co. The work: weeding, sowing seeds, harvesting, squishing bugs (okay, maybe that part wasn’t so great). The play: creek wading, strawberry picking, mountain springs seeking, wildcrafting (to me this is play, even though it also benefits my work).

So when Meg told me she’d be setting up a homestead with her man Neil in New Jersey, I started fantasizing about all of the adventures I could have there, too. Of course, this project is so much more than just a good excuse for me to get out of the city. Meg will be creating an educational farm complete with livestock (rabbits, laying hens, goats), beehives, vegetable growing, and mushroom propagation. There will be opportunities for wildcrafting and harvesting from the surrounding woods and waters, too. Nearby swimming beaches, hiking and biking trails are the icing on top. The homestead will be located at Seven Arrows, a yoga retreat center in Locust, NJ. So there’s also yoga and healing retreats, too. This sounds like a place I may visit and never want to leave.

Thing is, in order to realize all of this amazingness, they need our help. The Homestead at Seven Arrows launched a Kickstarter campaign, and it’s an all or nothing affair. The last day to pledge is July 5. They’re just about a quarter of the way to their goal of $20,000. There are some sweet rewards associated with the campaign, aside from knowing your dough will be funding this awesome project.

You can pledge as little as $1 to get your name & web link on their donor page. You can pledge $25 for some lovely pressed wild plants from the area. For $30, you’ll get a Claudia Pearson-designed Buy Local Calendar Towel 24 x 27″ 100% cotton, vibrant illustrations of local vegetables. If you’re rolling in it and really want to splurge, $1,000 will get you a weekend stay at Seven Arrows complete with farm grown meals, morning guided yoga sessions and local libations each night! Plus, you’ll get a care package of veggies, eggs and goat milk! (or a basket of assorted value added goods made from farm produce. And then the top-of-the-line prize is for those with $5K to chip in: a weekend retreat for you and up to 8 friends.

Help make this dreaminess a reality!