Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Spring! (with Eggshells + the Moon)

It's finally here. For real this time. I hope.

The snow has almost disappeared, the flooded ground is beginning to dry, and the temperature hasn't dropped below freezing in about a week.

My hands are ready to get dirty.

I'm ready to garden.

This year, I wanted to try something different, something to make me feel more connected to what I'm doing with my little green friends. This year I'm gardening by the moon.

Moon gardening is an old traditional way to time your gardening tasks by the phases of the moon combined with the astrological sign the moon is travelling through. I don't know whether it works or not as I'm just beginning, but here are my little seedlings just one week after planting:

This is also the first year I've tried seeding into soil-filled eggshells. 

I've never had good luck with peat pots (they dry out so fast!), and I prefer a neat little seedling I can put directly into the dirt over transplanting out of reused food and other containers. If you have access to eggs that comes in a plastic container, you have a mini-greenhouse with your little pots.

To make eggshell pots, crack each egg carefully towards the small end of the egg. Pull the top off, use the egg, and put the top in your compost bin (or wherever you usually put your eggshells). Rinse the larger part of the shell in warm water, and poke 2-3 holes in the bottom with a pushpin. Once you have a dozen, fill with your soil blend and add seeds. Use a spray bottle to water, close the top, put in a sunny location, and wait for your little sprouts to show themselves.

Make sure to keep the soil moist, but not too wet. Find the balance.

(If you eat local eggs, or only have eggs available in paper-based containers, you can put the eggshells in a tray, and fill the tray with sand or small pebbles to keep the shells straight. Cover with plastic or a sheet of glass until you see sprouts.)

So far, I've planted sunflowers, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, oregano, thyme, and basil.

What are you planting?


Monday, January 27, 2014

The Fire Cider Fiasco

What is Fire Cider?
Have you heard of fire cider? It's a traditional herbal remedy often used in the wintertime. Thousands of people across the globe make this herb-infused vinegar as a preventative and cure-all. The recipe differs from person to person, but almost always contains garlic, onions, ginger, horseradish, and peppers, sweetened with honey to taste, in an apple cider vinegar base. I first learned to make it when I was in herb school back in 2000, although the formula I was taught contained cayenne instead of the more commonly used jalapeno. Personally I prefer honey-based elixirs over vinegars, but my personal taste aside, fire cider is a pretty well-known remedy in herbal circles everywhere, and thanks to the internet, is no longer limited to herbalists and grandmothers' kitchens. Search for it on Pinterest, or put it into a Google search and you'll get thousands of hits, a mix between DIY recipes and indie herbalists offering their pre-made fire ciders.

Who Invented Fire Cider?
Probably the most famous proponent of fire cider is Rosemary Gladstar, founder of Sage Mountain and the Women's Herbal Conference. Often referred to as the godmother of herbal medicine, almost every herbalist in New England, and many across the US and across the globe, have learned something from Rosemary, through her published books, online or in-person courses, or through word of mouth. Rosemary is a guiding light in the herbal community, and most people who know, make, and/or use fire cider have heard of it through Rosemary. Even though so many people learned from her, Rosemary doesn't claim to have invented it, and instead credits traditions that came before her.

Who "Owns" Fire Cider?
Nobody. It's a remedy that belongs to all of us. It belongs to "the people". It's a remedy to be shared from person to person, through generations, across state, country, and continental lines. Nobody really knows who invented fire cider, and nobody owns fire cider. 

Or, that's what we all thought.

Until yesterday.
(For me at least. For some it was a bit earlier.)

The Theft of "Fire Cider" From the People.
Yesterday Ryn from The CommonWealth Center for Herbal Medicine shared a blog about fire cider on their Facebook page. Or, more specifically, Fire Cider®. A company, Shire City Herbals, right here in MA, had trademarked the term "fire cider". I couldn't even get halfway through his blog before going to the USPTO to search for the trademark. I was sure there had to be a mistake. How could something so universal be trademarked? Yet there it was. Filed on 04/20/12 and officially registered on 12/18/12. Yes, in 2012

How did it take us all so long to find out? I'm not sure, but I can only guess that nobody knew until Shire City Herbals started enforcing their trademark rights by having sellers like The Withered Herb remove their fire ciders from Etsy.

I finished the article, read the response by Shire City Herbals, clicked through all the links, and became really angry. No, livid. I rarely swear, but every dirty word in the book popped into my head. You know in the Christmas Story when Ralphie gets back at Farkus and all the kids stand there with their mouths gaping, in shock at the words that came flying out of his mouth? That was happening to me, but I managed to keep it contained.

Protesting the Fire Cider Trademark
I posted my (censored) thoughts on Shire City Herbal's facebook page, spread the word to a few more, and internally tried to follow the lead of more understanding protesters by wondering if maybe it had actually been just a mistake. Maybe they didn't really know that fire cider was such a universal term. Maybe Shire City would just apologize and release the trademark. Maybe we could even run a crowdfunding campaign to help them get a new trademark. I know how expensive the process is. I went through it less than two years ago. I decided to sleep on it.

But here's the thing.

I woke up thinking about it.

Thinking about how they claimed it. Thinking about how they said, "I did not invent the name Fire Cider, I got that percolating through the herbalist underground, without attribution" (Ryn has this quote in his blog, along with a link to the original posting of it on Facebook).

They admit to taking the name. Here they are practically saying that the name belongs to them because they were the first ones to think of trademarking it.

I was happy to see that someone created a Change.org "Revoke Fire Cider Trademark" petition. Even happier to see that right now, as I'm writing this, there are over 1600 signitures, less than 24 hours after it was made. Especially after reading their response to all the protesting, which alludes to their invention of fire cider. Yes, I'm serious. Read it.

What We Want (and why we want it)
I can't speak for everyone, but most of us agree on these things:

  1. Shire City Herbals DID NOT invent fire cider. 
  2. Shire City Herbals SHOULD NOT own "fire cider", as it is a universal term for a generic product. There is not one fire cider. Everyone has their own formula. Absolutely, they should protect their product. Just not the universal term.
  3. Shire City Herbals SHOULD release their trademark on "fire cider" and give it back to the people.
Being able to trademark a universal trade term such as "fire cider" sets a scary precedent. Who will be the first to trademark "elderberry syrup" or "herbal bitters"? Those are both as universal as "fire cider". It's not a far stretch to see this happening if Shire City Herbals is allowed to keep "fire cider".

What You Can Do
Shire City Herbals has had a fair chance to make things right, being contacted directly by Rosemary Gladstar (see below), and other herbalists, but they hold fast to their "too bad, so sad" attitude. So, it's up to us to take some action to guide them in the right direction.

Write to Shire City Herbals and let them know how you feel. Contact Brian, Amy, or Dana directly by using any one of their names "@firecider.com". Or, go to their facebook page. Speak your mind, but try to be civil. We want to be taken seriously, not blown off as "venters" as we have been so far.

Their brand of fire cider is sold at stores all over Massachusetts and across the country. Let your local health (or other) store owner know what is going on. If you plan on boycotting, let them know that as well.

Sign the petition.

EDIT: I don't know how I could forget this one, but spread the word! Share this blog, share the original blogs by Herbal Revolution and A Withered Herb (these two blogs are how many of us found out), share the petition, share your words. Share one, share all. Just make sure that the word gets out. Shire still doesn't seem clear on exactly what they've done here. (Their newest response on their facebook page begins, "Fire Cider is not considered a generic term by the government- this is the problem!!!")

EDIT II: There is also an open facebook group called Fire Cider that you can join to keep updated.

EDIT III: Last night (01/27), Shire posted on their Facebook page asking for two weeks. We (as a group) want to honor this by not sending them anymore emails. Give them a chance to think. But, don't stop spreading information to friends, family, and retailers, and keep collecting signatures. Make sure people are aware.

A Message From Rosemary Gladstar
I emailed Rosemary last night, and was not expecting a response, but I got one. This was not sent to just me, but several others:

"Dear Lisa,  thank you for contacting me. I just found out about this situation a few days ago and, of course, was surprised and extremely disappointed that someone would think they had the right to trademark a name and product that's been in public use for over 3 decades.   I had written to the gentleman directly, hoping to be able to persuade him that this wasn't his name to trademark as I didn't want it to go public without giving him the opportunity to rescind his trademark. Unfortunately, he seems pretty set in his 'right' to own the name even though I first made  fire cider and gave it its name over 35 years ago.  In the meantime I've taught hundreds if not thousands of people to make it, who have them taught others….this product is clearly a 'peoples medicine' and isn't to be 'owned'.   Of course, as with most herbal products, its based on old formulas, so it's even pretentious for me to say 'I made it up'.    My grandmother used herbs, vinegar and honey and she probabily learned from her grandmother.  We all learn from one another….. 

My guess is that this man or his sister (I think its actually his sister or sister in law who makes the product) learned how to make it from someone who read the directions in my book or from one of my classes, or, perhaps, one of my students.   They thought it was a great recipe, which it is, and decided to make it for others, as so many others have done, and have been doing for centuries. That's the beauty of herbs, learning and passing the information on. Like so many others, he, too,  decided to make it and sell it. All great, but then to lay claim to something that's clearly not his to lay claim, is wrong.  And to then tell others they can't use the name anymore!! What am I suppose to do, remove it from all of my literature, copyrighted books, class handouts and correspondence course?! 

Personally, I don't think that a good response is necessarily anger, but rather a clear message that this isn't to be tolerated in the herbal community.  That we  as a community are here to teach, educate,  heal, and share information,  recipes, and ideas.  Furthermore,  with something like Fire Cider that's been in use for so long, and a product whose name is already well known and circulated in the world, he nor anyone else has the right or privilege to take ownership of it.   He can certainly make the product and even call it Fire Cider, but if he wants to trademark it, he needs to make up his own name, and, ideally, a product that's uniquely his own.  If we allow Fire Cider to be trademarked, then it sets a precedent.  Next we'll see Rosemary's Famous Face cream trademarked or Kloss's lineament, Kava Chai, Chaga Chai, etc etc. Its one thing when you make a totally unique product and give it a name that's not been used before. But this clearly isn't the case in this situation.  He may have brought the trademark and thinks he owns the formula and name, but  he's doing it at a great cost to himself, and his company.  

I spend hardly any time on the internet or Facebook so am behind the times in what information is being passed along  in 'cyber space'.  But please do feel free to post this response. What I would suggest is for people to actively respond to this person with a kind but clear and straightforward  that this isn't going to be  tolerated.  He needs to rename his product.  Fire Cider was around long before he ever starting making and using it and that unless he recinds on the trademark, we will spread the word like wildfire. He may end up owning the name but he won't  have a very popular or successful business.   We also needed to cc Etsy on all correspondence, as  they too, need to understand the situation.  

Thank you again for contacting me.
With you in herbal ways, 
Rosemary Gladstar"


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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Annual Birthday Sale

It's another year for Wunder Budder!

Ok, it's another year for everyone, but January 2014 marks the end of our fourth year and beginning of our fifth year.

What? You thought we started in 2002, not 2010, you say?

That's true. Someday we'll figure out a way to make this not confusing.

If you haven't heard the story yet... From late 2002 to late 2009 Wunder Budder was a seasonal home business, and products were only available through me directly, in person, or through someone I knew. It was more of a hobby that I paid taxes on, a dream I didn't want to let go. I'm glad I didn't.

Through a series of events in late 2009/early 2010, I decided to make it a full-time thing, left school, rented a studio to work out of, and made my first website. The rest is Wunder Budder history.

January of 2010 is when Wunder Budder became "real", so that's when we celebrate Wunder Budder's birthday.

It's our birthday and we're happy you're here (here, as in part of it all!), it's the new year, it's wintertime (aka Wunder Budder season), and it's the perfect time to start making changes.

It's also the perfect time for a sale. So that's what we do.

Once a year everything on our website goes on sale. Everything is 5%-25% off.

It's the perfect time to stock up on items, try out new things, or just pick up a couple of your favorites.

The Annual Birthday Sale runs from 01/01/14-01/15/14 or as supplies last. The sale is on our existing stock only, so get it while you can!

I hope you all have the happiest and healthiest 2014, 

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Winter Aromatherapy Quick Tip

Winter Solstice is coming up,
but the cold, dry weather is already here.
We need all the help we can get to keep our insides and outsides from becoming dehydrated.
One easy tip?
A simplistic, passive humidifier using just a bowl of water on top of your radiator.
Bonus: add essential oils to the mix.

Although this works best with the old-style radiators, even small baseboards radiators can be used by using ramekins or finger bowls instead of full-sized bowls (just fill them up more often).
Just fill your bowl (or ramekin, or mug, or whatever heat and water-proof vessel you choose) with water.
Add 3-5 drops of essential oils.
Put on your radiator.
And that's it!
Check every couple days and refill as needed.
The radiator gently heats the water, and the water gently heats the oil.
Water vapor and a subtle aroma are released into the air.
Don't know where to start? Try one of these combinations:

4 drops eucalyptus
1 drop peppermint

2 drops peppermint
3 drops bergamot

2 drops juniper
2 drops lemon

3 drops lavender
2 drops rosemary

1 drop German chamomile
3 drops lavender

Happy winter!


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Friday, October 11, 2013

DIY Natural Air Freshener

DIY Natural Air Freshener

Make Your Own Natural Air Freshener at Home

in just five easy steps:

  1. add 1/4 cup baking soda to a glass bowl
  2. add 5-10 drops essential oil
  3. mix and crush lumps
  4. stir in 1/2 cup dried flowers
  5. pour into decorative bowl or vase
In this example I used lavender, but any dried flower or herb will work. Match up the essential oil for best results (e.g. dried rose petals with rose absolute or essential oil, cedar chips with cedar essential oil). For a light oil like lavender, 10 drops is better, but for heavier oils like rose or cedar, less drops will work. Mixing the baking soda with the essential oils before adding the herbs allows for better blending.

Once in the bowl or vase, this freshener will help pull the bad aromas from the air while releasing the good aromas. How does that work? Magic! No, just kidding. I don't know how it works, I just know it does, and it's long lasting. A blend I had in my bedroom (it was lavender) lasted for six years before a spill caused me to stop counting. Just give the container a little shake whenever you want to release fresh aroma.

Although this is a natural air freshener, keep the mixture away from kids and pets, or anyone who might think it's a good idea to eat it (don't eat it).


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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

You Don't Know What Homeopathic Means.

Ok friends, it's rant time again.

I'd like to scream this to the world...

Homeopathic is not the same as natural.
Homeopathic is not the same as holistic.
Homeopathic is not the same as botanical.

If you use this word for anything other than one small branch of holistic medicine,

you don't know what homeopathic means,

so please find out what it means or stop using it. Especially if you're a writer/blogger. Or any part of a natural healthcare or natural skincare field. (If you're a person not involved in these fields, and you're misusing this word, it's no wonder since "authority"-types are doing it.)

At a herbal conference earlier this year I continuously heard people call small doses of tinctures "homeopathic doses". I don't know what teacher is telling their students that small means the same as homeopathic, but it's wrong. So wrong. This was especially disturbing because if anyone (other than a homeopath) should know what homeopathy is and isn't, it's a herbalist.

But, this rant was brought on by an article on natural beauty products. Not quite as disturbing, but just as annoying.

Why does it bother me so much when this word is constantly used incorrectly? Because it would be like calling all colors blue, or all foods pizza, or all mammals cats. It's just wrong. Completely.

So, what is homeopathy?

It's a branch of holistic medicine using remedies made in a very specific way. These remedies are the only things that can be called homeopathic. A homeopathic remedy is created by making a "mother tincture", and then repeatedly diluting the tincture using a technique unique to homeopathy. The end result is an energetic medicine with none of the original (botanical or other) ingredient left in the menstruum (the liquid). It's a fascinating and controversial field, but unless you are practicing it or using it, all you need to know is this:

All homeopathy is natural (some are even made from natural poisons), but not all natural is homeopathic; all homeopathy is holistic, but not all holistics are homeopathic; all homeopathy is not botanical (there is even a remedy made from fire!), and not all botanicals are homeopathic.

So, please, help me stop this insanity.

If you hear or read someone incorrectly using the term, gently let them know that homeopathy is a branch of holistic medicine, not a general term. With bloggers and other writers, some herbalists, and others continuously misusing the term, it's no wonder that so many people are confused by the terminology.

Lets set the world straight.

Also see 5 Most Commonly Misused Natural Terms for more terms commonly confused.


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Monday, August 26, 2013

Martha Stewart's American Made Nominee!

Martha Stewart's new American Made program (this is the second annual) supports handcrafted, American-made business. This year, Wunder Budder is a nominee!

There are six categories: food, craft, design, style (this includes skincare, and is the category for Wunder Budder), technology, and garden. The winner of each category will win a gift basket, a feature on the American Made website, and a mention on Sirius radio. The exposure alone could change the life of a business (hopefully Wunder Budder's!), but these category winners will go on to compete for the grand prize: $10,000, a trip to the American Made Workshop, and a feature on marthastewart.com!

Wunder Budder stands a chance to win it all, but not without your help. The contest is entirely based on votes. Entirely. The only way to win is to get the most votes, and the only way to get the most votes is to ask all of you, my friends and Wunder Budder fans, to cast yours. You can vote daily, and you can vote up to six times per day (yes, you can cast them all at once!). To get people involved, American Made is entering each vote to win a prize (AmericanExpress gift cards and Martha Stewart books, some signed).

During the voting period (08/26/13-09/13/13) I'll be posting on Facebook and Twitter daily to remind everyone to vote, and to make sure I catch everyone. Twitter feeds are so fast moving, most people probably won't notice all the tweets promoting the contest, but Facebook is more personal. If I pop up in your feed five times a day, you'll probably get sick of seeing me! But, on average, each Facebook post is only been seen by 2-8% of fans. At best, it's 20%, and that's only with a LOT of interaction: comments and sharing. So, although a few of you will see every post, the majority of you will see maybe one. Because of this, I'll have to post a lot to make sure the link is seen by a large number of people. To make up for all the posts, I'll be offering daily specials starting tomorrow* - a different special every day (except for Labor Day Weekend). The code will be posted in the first comment every time the American Made contest link is shared, so keep an eye out for them. That you for all your love and support...


*Unfortunately my profile page, along with many other nominees', has been down for most of the day. This very frustrating turn of events means that I didn't promote today and lost almost an entire day's worth of votes (who wants to be directed to a page that won't load??). Things seem to be back up now, so hopefully they stay up. But now I need to catch up with all the people who could access their pages all day!

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