Hello, This is Amy

By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America

Rogers, Amy_AdjAmy Rogers calls herself an administrative assistant, but her responsibilities reach much further than one might expect. Certainly, she’s the initial point of contact for members and public when calling or stopping by HSA. She handles reservations for the Educational Conference and Annual Meeting of Members, solicits and processes advertisements for The Herbarist, works on the annual appeal and so much more.

With a Bachelor of Science degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and an MBA from Cleveland State University, Amy brings a rich business history to The Herb Society. After years working for various organizations she took time off to raise her daughter through middle school.

The Herb Society marks her return to an office, one so close to home that she’s ridden her bike to work.

Most of Amy’s herbs are grown in pots to save them from the deer around her Kirtland home.

“My favorite herbs are lemon verbena and pineapple sage. I love the fragrance and their look when paired in pots with other herbs and flowers,” she says. “I always have basil, thyme, parsley, dill, sage and chives on hand for cooking.”

When she’s not gardening, Amy loves to bike and read. She lives with her husband, Alan, soon-to-be 15 year old daughter, Lily, two calico cats. She has a horse, Sophie, that lives at a barn 5 miles away.

Meet Chef Savory Herbert, 2015 HSA Scarecrow

Meet Chef Savory Herbert, 2015 HSA Scarecrow

By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America

Scarecrow: I haven’t got a brain… only straw.

Dorothy: How can you talk if you haven’t got a brain?

Scarecrow: I don’t know… But some people without brains do an awful lot of talking… don’t they?

Dorothy: Yes, I guess you’re right.

  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum (1939)

chef savory holdenYou may not hear them, but scarecrows say a lot to creatures of the field. As such they have a long history throughout the world. Humanlike figures … usually made of straw dressed in men’s clothes … are posted in fields to threaten invading pests. They scare crows, among other creatures.

With harvest in mind, The Herb Society’s neighbor, the world-renowned Holden Arboretum, sponsored a display “Scarecrow Row” for the public. The Society’s creation – Chef Savory Herbert –was, of course, inspired by herbs. In fact, she was inspired by savory, the herb of the year.

Savory lends itself to cooking, and so it’s a star in the scarecrow’s soup pot of culinary herbs.

Chef was a group effort. Gardener Betsey Burrell, from Trowel & Spade, located the official chef attire. Megan Davidson, also of Trowel & Spade, created the soup pot and many artistic herbal touches. Executive Director Katrinka Morgan embroidered chef’s white coat. And, Administrative Assistant Amy Rogers gave up her crocs for authentic kitchen apparel (think Mario Batali).Scarecrow Herbet Holden

“Chef Savory was not in place for more than five minutes when visiting children came over to smell her soup and a woman inquired about our herb labels,” says Karen Kennedy, HSA educator. “Our goal is to raise awareness of both HSA and growing and using herbs. And after all, it is soup weather!”

Among the herbs used for Chef Savory are:

  • Eyes – rose hips
  • Lips – hyacinth bean
  • Hair – artemisia
  • Earrings – hibiscus

Chef savory closeupLike many scarecrows, Chef Savory doesn’t use words, but she says a lot symbolically.Scarecrow chef pot

Lavender Love: It’s everywhere

By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America

It’s synchronicity … a meaningful coincidence … that I’m finding lavender everywhere. Or perhaps a trend that I didn’t know about?

In August I ordered bulk lavender buds to make sachets for Christmas gifts.

Next thing I know my friend, travel writer Janet Podolak, posts a picture of herself in French lavender fields.Lavendar Janet

The weekend came and I was at a family gathering where the virtues of lavender essential oil became a topic.

lavender margharetaThen, at Barrio taqueria in Cleveland, the specials included a lavender margarita.  You bet that I ordered it.

A day later I was at a conference – Content Marketing World – and one of the vendors was treating us to lemon-lavender shortbread.

Back at the Willoughby (Ohio) Farmer’s Market vendor Maggie Fusco was selling aromatic, handcrafted lavender wands.Lavendar wands

Its as though the lavender gods were blessing me with my favorite herb. Now, if I could just get it to grow it without getting so spindly and sad in the limited sunshine over my Northeast Ohio parcel of clay.

P.S. After I’d written this I stumbled upon Luvin’ Lavender Farm in Madison, Ohio. I’ll hold on to their story for another blog. Watch this space!

Share your synchronous herb experience in the comments below.

Handmade: Sachets from Vintage Hankies

By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America

Craft sachets (18)In mid-August I was at a garage sale full of 1940s and 1950s household paraphernalia. Among the milky salt shakers, bakelite jewelry and vanity sets were two tins of vintage hankies. Impressed with the old prints and even more impressed with crochet borders and embroidered designs, I wanted the colorful lot. So, $20 later, they were mine.

Unfolding my treasurers I counted forty hankies … about 50 cents each. Not a bad price in the Northeast Ohio collectible market.

Now what? I was waiting for inspiration. I, too often, buy stuff because it’s pretty and/or a bargain. Just ask me about those vintage patchwork quilts that match nothing in my home décor. But, I digress…

I washed the hankies on delicate and ironed them crisp. Folded twice, they’re smallish squares. Craft sachets (4)

I tend be OCD sometimes, so I organized them by color, then embellishment.

Eureka! Sachets!

Lavender-filled squares to scent clothing drawers. Hops-filled sachets for inducing sleep. Eucalyptus sachets for winter colds. Rose-filled sachets, well … just because. Gifts for everyone.

I decided to keep them folded, machine sew two sides, stuff them and close them. Then, overthinking I contemplated threadCraft sachets (7) color. Fortunately, I returned to my senses and went with white because it’s universal.

Finally, it was show time. The sewing went quickly.

With the first batch I was on a lavender high. I could just roll around in those. I picked the prettiest, frilliest hankies because the flowers seem so delicate despite the intense aroma.

The hops, meanwhile, had been vacuum sealed into plastic so I used my fingers to loosen the tight wads. Not long and my fingers were a bit oily-sticky from the herbaceous brewing ingredient. And, yes, smelling a bit like a bitter hoppy beer. I guess I won’t give these sachets to my lager swigging friends.

While roses haven’t been known to induce sleep, they’d make feminine drawer sachets. I could even see vintage ladies Craft sachets (14)tucking the smallest into their ample bosoms to release perfume in the summer’s heat.

Eucalyptus was a last-minute addition when all that herb sniffing left me with a stuffy head. Why not make sachets to tuck inside the pillow when you have a cold.

Forty herb packages later and I’ve started my Christmas crafting. I just might go with an aromatherapy basket for friends and family this year. Next up? Soap.

Stay tuned.

P.S. Be selective about hops. Seek out the sweetest. Those used for bitter India Pale Ales are only for the hardcore herb or beer lover. At first whiff, they smell like day-old, spilled beer. If you can hold out for 2 seconds the scent mellows into something sleep inducing. If your budget is tight, don’t bother.

What’s on your holiday crafting gift list? What are you making for friends and family. Tell us in the comments below.

Laurie Alexander organizes membership administration

By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America

Alexander_Laurie_144adjWhen you apply or continue your membership in The Herb Society of America, you become part of Laurie Kay Alexander’s work day. As Membership Coordinator she keeps databases for membership, processes all the unit and member-at-large renewals, manages all the current members’ profiles and oversees programs associated with membership longevity. She also assists with the logistics of the annual meeting and educational conference.
“My goal is to keep our records as accurate as possible, answer members questions as promptly and accurately as possible,” she says.

Before joining the Society’s headquarters staff, Laurie worked at Society for Rehabilitation in Mentor, Ohio, and the Greater Cleveland Chapter of The Alzheimer’s Association.

Laurie keeps a small herb garden during the summer months. Her favorite herbs are dill, for the taste; parsley and basil for their rich green (her favorite color); and chamomile and valerian because they’re soothing and helpful.
Laurie and her husband Tom live in Mentor, Ohio, roughly four miles from work. When she’s not busy, she spoils her three grandchildren. She also loves to cross-stitch, crochet, shop online and in consignment stores.

Book Review: Crafting Holistic Beauty Products

By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America

Lip balm is among the easiest beauty products to make, says Shannon Buck, author of “200 Tips, Techniques, and Recipes IMG_3182for Natural Beauty” published in September, 2014, by Fair Winds Press ($19.99).

“Folks are always pleasantly surprised to find out how easy it is to craft. Once you learn how inexpensive and enjoyable it can be to handcraft your own lip balm, you may never want to buy store bought again,” she waxes enthusiastically.

Shannon’s interest in herbs has been evolving since she was a young girl inspired by her mother. ”I remember wildcrafting with my mom in the mountains of Wyoming and the flavor of Horehound throat lozenges,” she says.

In 2011, she enrolled in the East West School of Planetary Herbology’s Herbalist Program in and the Aromatherapy Program at Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA. Eventually that led to a blog Fresh-Picked Beauty at www.freshpickedbeauty.com and teaching Therapeutic Uses of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy at a few colleges in Seattle.

”My present focus,” she says, “is how herbs can benefit the skin and help us age beautifully.”

Among her favorites is lavender, she notes. “I use the essential oil as a solution for tension, minor burns and other skin problems. I think everyone should have this herb in easy reach.”

Like many of us, Shannon is cautious of chemical-laden commercial products. “With my book you can create lotions and potions using all-natural, holistic ingredients. You’ll learn about carrier oils, butters, and floral extracts,” she says. “With step-by-step photographs, and expert tips, each recipe produces beauty products to use or give as gifts.”

book photoWhile that’s a succinct summary of the book, it barely captures the dynamic, valuable content on each of the 144 pages. Photos, charts and full-color visual organization make the content easy to reference. In fact, they entice you from page to page until you’ve accidentally perused the entire book. It’s a must-have.

If you’re not ready to buy the book, sample Shannon’s expertise at her blog – Fresh Picked Beauty.

For would-be authors, Shannon advises, “If you are passionate about a particular topic and would like to write a book, get in touch with a number of literary agents with your idea and see what happens. Once you get your book deal, remain motivated and transfer all your enthusiasm onto the pages.”

Shannon lives in Woodinville, Washington with her wonderful husband and two beautiful children. When she’s not writing, blogging or working with herbs, she enjoys spending time at her family’s lake house in Chelan, Washington.

“200 Tips, Techniques, and Recipes for Natural Beauty” is available at major retailers and online at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Indiebound.org, Target.com, Walmart.com and her blog.  She also sells products on Etsy.

Education coordinator Karen Kennedy will school you

Kennedy, KarenEducation Coordinator Karen Kennedy has one of the more interesting, and enviable, college degrees. She studied Agriculture at Kansas State University, with a major in Horticultural Therapy. For the past 30 years she has been a registered Horticultural Therapist.

The Herb Society of America tapped her talents as Education Coordinator just three years ago. In that role she coordinates educational webinars, gives presentations on herb topics and produces educational materials.

“My goals are to use educational materials and programs to increase HSA awareness and learning opportunities for our members and the public,” says Karen. For example, she contributes to The Herbarist and develops factsheets.

Before joining HSA, Karen shared her talents, for many years, with the neighboring Holden Arboretum. She continues to be active in professional organizations including the HT and Cancer Network Group, and the National Wellness Initiative.


A knitter, Karen made this sweater for a plush dog. The dog was given to a child by Hospice of the Western Reserve.

Karen grows herbs in raised beds and containers at her home. Her favorites tend to be seasonal, with basil topping the list. “I love the versatility and flavor of this herb,” she says. “It pairs well with savory dishes, desserts and beverages.”

“Lemon verbena is a close second since it holds its fragrance and flavor with drying and is lovely in a cup of tea,” she continues. “And, I can’t get through the holidays or grilling season without rosemary.”

Karen lives in Concord, Ohio, with her husband, 7-year-old daughter and a new schnoodle puppy.

In her free time she gardens and knits.