Its harvest time: Drying herbs

I love herbs! I love growing them. I love smelling them. I love harvesting more than I can consume and I love eating them.

We’re now in the middle of June and today was harvest day; the day I cut back the oregano and shape it for the summer growth. A few years ago, I picked up a couple plants of common oregano at the nursery in little three inch containers. I planted them in the herb garden, a place just outside the master bedroom door, where there is a little spot of earth that gets full southern exposure to sunlight and watered when the sprinkler kicks in.

After the first year, I bent over some of the new growth and buried the branches underground in order to get the plant to sprout roots on the new limbs. After the roots were big enough to support the new plant, I severed the link between the mother plant and the new start. Now I’ve got Oregano plants all over the place! It doesn’t take long to fill the garden (that is, if you don’t give living plants away).

Oregano is best if you harvest the leaves when they are still relatively young. I like to do it before the first flowering in the spring. Thus today was a perfect day to cut it back. I filled three plastic grocery bags with cuttings and gave one bag to some close friends. The other two were left for me to dry and prep for usage.

It’s actually a lot more fun than you might think going through the harvesting process and hanging your herb to dry. During the cutting, I take good kitchen scissors and cut the branches just below half way. You want to leave enough leaves on the branch that the plant will continue to grow, but you want to have clipping that are long enough to hang. You want the freshest leaves to dry and use. Make sure you clip on a relatively dry day.

Today was hot and sunny. The plants where clean and dry. Just Perfect.

To properly cure the clippings you need a reasonably dark dry place to hang the herbs for a few weeks. You’ll know they are dry enough when the leave crack when you touch them. You’ll also want a good collection of rubber bands.

Here is how I dry Oregano, mint, basil and just about anything else that tickles my fancy.

To start with, line your clippings up so the ends are all pretty event. Kind of like this:

When you’ve got a collection of stems that fit nicely in the circle that is formed between your index finger and thumb, you’ve got just about the right amount. With that bunch, wrap a rubber band around it. It might look like this:

After you’ve bunched up your harvest, you need to hang them in a dry place with no direct sunlight. I use my garage. I’ve strung up a piece of garden twine that’s about 10 feet long that’s high enough that you can walk under without touching the hanging herbs.

To place the herbs on the twine, I get an old chair that I keep in the garage just for this reason so that I can reach up high enough to set the bunches over the string. To do this, I split the bunch just about in half and work the leaves apart up to nearly the rubber band and then place the plant upside down over the string. This next picture pretty much sums up the process.

As you can see in the following picture, I space them far enough apart so that they don’t touch.

And if you look closely in the above picture, you’ll not only see the newly harvested oregano that’s being hung, but you’ll see some spearmint that I hung up about two weeks ago in the background. I’ve got a great harvest of spearmint this year. I love it fresh in green smoothies, tea is a second favorite.

Once it’s hung for a few weeks you’ll know it’s dry when the leaves crackle when you touch them. At that point you’ll want to store them for later use. What I use are paper bags. The paper bags you have to ask for when shopping; not the plastic bags. These paper bags keep the herbs dark and wick away any last bits of moisture.

Here is a collection of basil that I dried last year.

Notice that I still haven’t taken the rubber bands off. I guess I got lazy last fall. Normally what I’ll do is unwrap the rubber bands and then strip the leaves off the steam while it’s all in the bag. The steams I’ll throw away and the leaves I’ll keep in the bag for long term storage. The basil that we’ll use for cooking (and what not) I keep stored in a glass mason jar in the herb cabinet. When that jar gets low, I simply refill it from this storage bag.

When it comes to drying basil, I always look for the best looking organic plants at the Saturday market when the plants are in season. When they look good, I’ll buy at least 10 bunches. That’s just about enough to last a year.

This oregano will be more than we’ll consume. That means I’ll be able to give gifts to people! I love sharing the abundance in my life. This is just another way that I get to do this.

If you’ve got a little land, put in an oregano plant and get it to produce a few brothers and sisters. Even if you don’t have full sunlight, these plants are hardy so you should get a pretty good harvest every spring. If you are as lucky as I am, drying it is a pie-of-cake.

The dancing lights of thought

The other day while cooling down from practicing yoga, I had a thought. Yah, yah, I know, it’s a life altering concept isn’t it. But, it still happened and I’m here to share it.

A while back I set my intention during a meditation session to understand how it is that the body focuses energy. And, I feel that part of that understanding has been delivered.

The class had virtually finished and the instructor talked us all through the relaxation process of the savasana pose (corpse pose where you simply lay on your back and cool down after your workout). During this time, I found myself able to relax, but my mind tracked what felt like spiraling energies around my Being. The act of experiencing the spiraling energies felt like watching the northern lights around my Being. It was kind of a wild display of areas that had higher densities of light where as other areas were less dense. As I watched, these energies seemed to move like a Walt Disney animated flame from one area to another.

As I observed this activity I was impressed that as you think about different things the light density changes as it acts upon that thought. So, the act of thinking changes the energy flow (light) that normally is dispersed rather evenly around your Being so as to make more concentrated areas and less concentrated areas. In a way, like waves, but these waves are more like computer interpretations of analog sound displayed as densities of light.

As I was enjoying the flow of light around my Being (I say Being because it wasn’t around my body, but it felt like it was around my consciousness as if I was the observer and the light show was happening around my observation point) and the instructor came over and interrupted this activity. But not in a bad way.

You know how instructors may help realign your body as you lays there in the savasana pose? Well, if you haven’t experienced this, they may shake the tension out of your legs, press on your collarbones (shoulders) to break up neck tension and then align the head via touching pressure points on the back of the neck and, sometimes, lifting the head. It’s all a very gentle process that is like a mild massage.

Well, as I was saying, I was enjoying this little light show and the instructor came over to perform this alignment starting with the shoulders and finishing with the neck. The moment she touched my shoulders the light stopped ‘dancing’ and then as she held both sides of my neck the light density completely evened out so as to form a perfect circle of calm activity.

It was really quite amazing in a subtle type of way.

As it turns out, the instructor is also a Reiki healer. I didn’t ask her at the time what she thought – or what her intent was at that moment, but I just might. And, likewise, there may be something in Reiki that I need to experience with regards to light. But that is just a hunch. 

So, what does this have to do with focusing energy? It may simple be related to thought. I will investigate more and see if I can find the right words to describe it.

Have a great day!

PS. Here is a pretty good rendition of what I witnessed. It is a time lapse of the northern lights as only National Geographic can do.

Life and the physics of miracles (needs a little hug)

I had to read through the entire book to get to the one phase that stands out above all the rest to me. It’s located in the fifth to the last paragraph and it’s not even written by the author Richard Bartlett.

When we play, we invoke magic because our mind is not interfering, fretting and measuring what isn’t.

–          SB, a masterful wizard of Matrix Energetics.

That really is cutting to the heart of it all. If that statement rings as true to you as it does to me, we’ve both experienced what it’s like to step out of your mind to let your being shine through. For when the intellect gets shoved aside by the act of being the miracle of life is what’s experienced. If that shines through during the act of playing, bring it on.

If you really think about playing and let yourself reflect on your own experiences, the act of playing may take on a broader scope.

When was the last time a song moved you? There is something special about the act of singing. It is an art, yet, at the same time, it is human expression that can not only be heard, but felt. For example, if you’ve seen the move The Shawshank Redemption I’ll bet you can remember being moved by the following scene. If you’re short on time, scoot ahead to the 2 minute mark.

How can that scene not move you? The narration provided during that clip from Morgan Freeman really does sum up the situation. And, if you can remember the point when “Andy” gets back from spending two weeks on the hole, he mentioned something like; you can lock away a man, but they can never take what’s in his heart. That is something that can never take away. You’ve got to stay in touch with that and never lose hope.

The moment when the person is participating with the performance the mind has stepped out of the way so the performance can be felt and experienced. You don’t see the people intellectualizing over whether or not the opera singers hit the correct notes or speak the correct words, no, you just experience it.

Here is another performance that you experience more than simply listening. Happens to be a group that I never get tired of hearing.

This, my internet friends, is playing at its finest.

I hope you haven’t forgot this performance:

What do all these clips have in common? From my point of view, the intellect has stepped back to let the soul of the person (people) shine through so that we can feel and experience the art of being. We feel what’s transpiring rather than simply seeing it or hearing it.

When reading through the physics of miracles, there were a number of locations where the author mentioned that the miracle happens when you get the head out of the way. And, this is exactly what I see when I witness the beauty in these different performances. They are miracles happening out in the open and readily available to experience if you so choose. These miracles are happening all the time. They are ever present for your enjoyment you just need to be able to recognize them as the artwork that it is.

There is another statement that rings true to me in the Manifestation chapter of Dr Bartlett’s second piece. It’s not all that different from the concept of playing.

One of the best ways to manifest what you want is to stop wanting and stop manifesting. In this way there are fewer struggles, thus freeing up far more energy to be directed unconsciously and unerringly to the target of your secret desires. Things will just show up and people will think that you’re lucky!

I believe that this is in line with what I’ve experienced. If you focus on the act of acquiring, that’s what you get – the actions that go along with attempting to acquire. If you focus on the act of being, with the knowledge that the item will come your way, the item will come your way.

He also says:

… when you consciously sustain a desire or want, the phase-conjugate opposite reality – exactly and precisely what you don’t want – is also manifested.

That statement really sums up what I observe happening with most people – or at least the ones that don’t get their requests (desires) delivered. You see, there is a difference between putting energy into a desire verses putting energy into a manifestation. The difference, how I see it, is that when you constantly think about ‘wanting’ something, you are constantly reminding yourself that you do not have it. If every day you wake up and affirm “I want a new car”, you will be constantly placing energy into the thought of not currently having a new car. Day in and day out, your energy will confirm that you ‘want’ a new car but don’t have it.

What you really want is to have the energy confirm that you already have a new car and, then, simply, not worry about it. In other words, define clearly what kind of car you desire, picture it in all its living detail. Act as if you feel the way the car drives, the smell of the interior, the sensation of acceleration and all the other fine details of the car and then simply ask to have your desires fulfilled. Now, at this point, let go of the image, but maintain the feeling.

When you do this, you have used your energy to experience the car. You have clearly outlined your desire and ‘attuned’ yourself to the act of playing with your new car. That process of ‘attuning’ yourself to your desire will set in motion the attraction that will bring that experience into manifestation.

At the same time, the conscious experience you envisioned about the new car will allow you to not dwell on the ‘wanting’ a new car because you have already experienced that new car. It is no longer energy of ‘want’ but rather energy of ‘experience.’ It’s a different focus that moves you out of dwelling on the wanting.

I hope that all makes sense. If not, let me know and I’ll rephrase it with a different collection of words.

Moving forward in the book, the first tag that I made was on the statement:

My goal for you in reading this book is that you realize that all situations in life are merely patterns of light and information.

When I read that statement, I was totally jazzed for what was to come (from page 27). At the top of that same page, the book title The Physics of Miracles confirmed that I was going to get an eye full of words all about how everything broke down into light. And, if you’ve read some of the other articles that I’ve posted about light, you could probably understand my excitement.

Well, as it turns out, he barely touched on this goal leaving me a bit disappointed, but not completely disappointed for he really touched on what’s most important – getting out of the mind to let the joy of experiencing life happen.  

I guess I’ll have to keep researching how everything breaks down into light while remembering to get out of my head!

I believe that the biggest point that Dr. Bartlett makes in this book is that there are many things in life that you simply ‘experience’ and you can try to explain them but the words used to do so don’t always paint the same picture. As with the videos that I’ve linked in; you can immediately feel the performance, but if you try to describe it using words (intellect) it’s pretty hard to clearly describe what you can so easily experience.

I guess the last concept that really stands out is that there is a ‘quantum’ difference between how the mind processes information and how the heart does. He points out that the mind processes linearly where as the heart processes in parallel. If you don’t understand the difference, processing linearly means that you process the information one item after another. Like reading words in a book. Yet, when you process with your heart, in parallel, it’s like stepping out into the backyard on a beautiful day and experiencing everything all at once. The moment of being present at that instant is full of a million wonderful things and you experience them all at the same time. As you focus on what’s happening, you start to linearly intellectualize each item in turn; the birds singing, squirrels jumping in the trees, the wind blowing and what not.

I love these quotes and look forward to reviewing this book a second time. For now, I’ve got one new act to perform on a regular basis. That is, to perform more parallel processing in life!

Enjoy the moment!

Sweet Gratitude’s Coconut Cream Pie

Little slice of heaven

The Pecan Turtle Cheesecake doesn’t compare to this decadent pie! Lori took one bite and her eyes lit up. I think her words where something like: “holy smokes, this is by far the best desert that you’ve made yet.” I think she shook the spoon at me and raised an eyebrow. I have to admit that it’s funny thinking of Lori this way.

But wow! Every bite melts in your mouth and what’s left over is a soft chew of coconut flakes that have been moistened by the fresh coconut milk.

Oh, the fresh coconut milk. I swear that my first experiencing with coconut milk left a sour taste in my mouth. Thinking about it now, I’ll bet that it was literally soured. Yuk. I can remember dumping it out and then trying the meat of the nut. Double yuk.

Yet, here we are today and I’m buying Young Thai Coconuts from WholeFoods for 3 bucks a piece. That soured taste has worn off and I’m a bit more discerning regarding what nut I bring home.

I have to admit that the most exciting part of making the desert is the opening of the coconut. It’s like chopping wood on the kitchen counter. Lord knows I’ve chopped enough fir, maple and alder, now I’m hacking at palm seeds!

Now just tilt the knife sideways

It’s actually pretty easy to open these things. I’m not sure where I saw someone open one of these a number of months back, but they just hacked around the nut (just like shown in the picture) until the top popped off. I’ve been doing this for a while now and I can attest to the fact that it’s easy. The only real guidance I’d provide is to really use the heel of the knife, again, like shown in the picture.

Better yet, I’ve found a short video that really sums up the process. And, it looks even easier than what I first learned.

I love how easy they’ve made this look. Next time, I’m definitely going to shave the top and give it one simple chop with the chief knife.

Had to show the swirl

I wish I could invite you all over for a early birthday party and we’d celebrate with this coconut cream pie.

I’m going to keep looking through that book until I find another recipe that’s even better. I’ll let you know if I find something. If you already know what I should make, I’d love to hear from you.

Meanwhile, it’s back to relaxing. It’s been another long day and all I really want to do it turn a few word filled pages until I pass out.

What is a (type 2) diabetic to do?

As it turns out, there are more than just a few people that I know that have type 2 diabetes or they have a family history of it. When I hear them talk about it, it’s quite often that there is a tone of eventuality as if it will be on their doorstep before too long. In a way it’s sad to hear that people accept that as their fate without really looking any further.

If you’re lucky (like me), you’ll ask if there is a ‘cure’ or ask to see how other people ‘cure’ themselves of these symptoms. And, if you’re persistent (like me), you’ll Google up your favorite phrase like “Raw Food Diabetes cures”. When I perform that query, I get 218k hits.

The second non-sponsored link returned is a link to Amazon and a book by Gabriel Cousens:

The third link is to a little article at TheBestOfRawFood that’s linked in the trailer for Simply Raw – Reversing Diabetes in 30 days. It’s pretty inspiring, so I figured I’d also include it here. I highly recommend giving it the five minutes.

Now, things even get better. Not only can you pick up the DVD for a nominal 30 bucks (and if you really think about that, that’s less than what you’d spend going out for one dinner and drinks), but you can actually attend a seminar where they help you reverse the diabetic process. (note, I am not getting paid to push this DVD or the program! I’m writing this out of the goodness of my heart.)

You’ll want to visit the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center, which is their main page. Or visit the There is a Cure for Diabetes! page.

As it turns out, I took the time to enquire for a brochure. It’s the 2009 brochure. If you don’t have the will power to change your life after watching the DVD, you can sign up and take the program for about 13k.

Let’s see. The last vacation I took to Hawaii cost me about $700 a day. If I’d stayed for 21 days, that trip would have cost almost 15k. Seems to me that attending the program would be better than a good vacation, it would be life altering!

Here is the page where you can request your own brochure!

Everyone gets to make their own choices in life. The fact that you’re reading this may mean that you were looking for a little encouragement or that you’re simply looking outside the standard dogma preached to people today – there is no cure for diabetes. Yet, if you no longer have the symptoms, do you still have the disease?

That’s the real challenge.

Have a good day!