Friends, there’s been a big shift in me. A few weeks ago I submitted my monthly monograph to HerbRally, that time for Mugwort, Artemisia vulgaris. Mason, my friend who runs the site, told me by day two that the monograph had had 600 views. Six hundred. That is exceptionally more than any of my Hotel Wilderness food posts have ever had, and it occurred to me that maybe I had been mistaken about my audience? Then last weekend I had the absolute pleasure of meeting and teaching eight vibrant people how to craft their own herbal body care at the Wildcraft Studio School above the windswept curves of the glittering Columbia Gorge. For six hours we talked about and experimented with healing plants and natural ingredients. I can’t remember the last time I talked to anyone for six hours about anything, that would normally have the introvert in me running for the nearest deep, dark cave. But teaching that class felt completely natural. In fact, when it was over, I felt like I could have done it all over again right then. Talking about plants, teaching others about how to use plants, and then sending them off with the tools and the confidence to make their own future decisions about plants, to empower people to pursue self study and self exploration: that is what I love to do. And those people that are equally as interested in how many cups of leaves and petals go into something like Gluten Free Chive + Rosemary Dandelion Pancakes, as they are interested in what those leaves and petals are actually doing for their body… those are my people.
I fooled myself into thinking that I wanted to only be a food blogger because I love food photography. I love cooking, I love eating (duh), and I love the opportunity for narrative that food photography allows. There’s so much variation in food, and when shooting it I am inspired every time. But I’m not best serving you by offering another recipe for Buffalo Cauliflower or Buddha Bowls. You don’t need me for that. There are a hundred people on the internet already offering those recipes and are probably doing a better job than I ever could. Where I thrive, where I am most happy, and where I truly believe that I can offer something special is in the space between plant medicine and daily life. There will still be plenty of food recipes in the future pages of Hotel Wilderness, but they are going to be more directed and better curated. I want you, my inspiring, badass readers to know what to expect when you come here. And that’s herbal exploration for a happy home, a happy body, and a happy you.
So, today we’re going to take a literal page from the Hotel Wilderness book and bring a little of the outside in.
I’ve always been drawn to cedar, but it’s increased tenfold since I started exploring the forest lands of the pacific northwest. I usually glimpse fallen clues first: gorgeous, deep auburn chunks of trunks left behind from storms or lazy loggers. Then I smell it. If you’ve smelled it before then I don’t have to tell you it’s glorious: perfectly woodsy but somehow also light and floral. I can’t get enough. The last time I was walking through a cedar stand I thought to myself “I wish my house looked and smelled like this.” Facepalm. Of course it can.
Luckily for us, cedar can be gathered at any time of year, though it is reportedly most fragrant in the warm months. Take care to harvest from an abundant area, and only from mature trees. Take no more than what you absolutely need. With both smudge sticks and wall hangings in mind, I harvested about 1/4 densely packed fill of a reusable grocery bag this last time. It’s a small enough amount to not harm the multiple trees I harvested from, but was plenty for my personal use.
Cedar wall hangings are an easy and beautiful way to bring a little of the forest into your home. In addition to your harvest, all you need is a little string or twine or even a rubber band. Arrange your branches in a shape that you like, then tie them together and hang them on whatever wall in your home needs a little extra green! They will dry as they hang, and once dried can be used for medicinal preparations, or can be left as a stunning decoration indefinitely. Dried botanical bunches like this are also a great way to add some green to low-light (or no-light, in my case) bathrooms.
I currently have one of these bundles hanging above the desk I’m writing from, as well as one above my bed. So I feel like I succeeded in making my little cottage look like a cedar stand. Now let’s make it smell like one. Assemble whatever cuttings you have left into small bundles and wrap well with string or twine. The tighter you wrap, the better the bundles will burn. That’s it. Make as many as you please and enjoy often!