Recipe for Herbal Smoking Blend & Contest!

Last Christmas I gave my brother in law an herbal smoking blend for his pipe and he loved it! So he asked me to make a bigger batch of it this week. If you don’t want to make it yourself, you can always order a blend pre-made from Mountain Rose Herbs.

The herbs in the blend are relaxing, non addictive and legal. :D Here is a bit of info for you on each of the herbs that I use and the recipe will follow.

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) –  this herb is actually healing to the lungs for respiratory problems , clearing out the lungs, encouraging expectoration and soothing to the throat.

Damiana ( Tunera diffusa) –  A relaxing, blends especially well with mullein. It’s a nerve relaxer, mood enhancer and a digestive stimulant. Also known to be an aphrodisiac.

Raspberry Leaf (Rubus idaeus) – A delicious flavor enhancer to any blend. Full of antioxidants.

Marshmallow Leaf (Althaea officinalis) – Is used to help ease sore throats and dry coughs mainly as a tea but soothing in a smoking blend.

Skullcap (Scuttelaria lateriflora) – a comforting herb to relieve nervous tension and relax the body.

Gather all your herbs!

Gather all your herbs!


1/4 cup Damiana

1/4 cup Mullein

a bit more than 1/8 cup Raspberry Leaf

1/8 cup Skullcap

1/8 cup Marshmallow Leaf

Mix together and keep in an airtight container. If you like it to be moist add a sprinkle of water before smoking.

Mix well.

Mix well.

20150322_093140_resized (1024x576)

END of Contest!!!!!!

Alright – NOW if you received the newsletter earlier this month, you know about the contest for the copy of Grow It, Heal It book and I added a reminder about it last week. So the first person that tells me on this post, in the comment section the answer to the following question – you will be the winner.

Question – what plant has been mentioned most in all of the posts this month? Sometimes a clue is hidden in pictures. Good Luck!


Posted in herbal remedies/recipes, recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Happy St. Patrick’s Day With a Bit Of Folklore

Growing up in New York, St. Patrick’s Day was a BIG deal especially coming from a family that was almost half Irish. If you have seen any of my family on my mom’s side, almost everyone has or had red hair. Sigh…except me, my brother, my Gram and my Aunt Carol.

irish rose

We ALWAYS had corned beef and cabbage, red potatoes, giant size Irish soda bread and of course everything except the bread, was cooked in beer. All bars, restaurants & bakeries celebrated St. Patty’s Day offering all kinds of goodies. It was like Mardi Gras in the north. :D

When we moved to the south back in 1990, the next March we wanted to go out for St. Patty’s Day and eat corned beef. There was no where near us that served it, they looked at us like we were NUTS! On top of that – our little grocery stores at the time did not even sell corned beef to cook at home. What a bummer!!! That has changed as there is a corned beef cooking in ale in the crock pot as I write. I no longer eat it but my hubby and son do.

Someone posted a cute pic today about the holy trinity and St. Patrick. This in turn got me inspired to write this post. Weird huh… That’s me!

St Pat's

So why is the tradition a meal of corned beef and cabbage and other questions??? Well I found the answers to all the questions at International Times.

Contrary to what many people might think, corned beef and cabbage, a staple at almost any St. Patrick’s Day celebration, isn’t the national dish of Ireland. The custom was started in the U.S. among the first generation of Irish-Americans, according to Immigrants yearning for familiar tastes of their homeland craved boiled bacon, but had to settle for beef brisket, the cheapest of meat cuts.

Irish immigrants adopted a technique popular among Eastern Europeans of brining their meat, a method they encountered in New York. Cabbage was the least expensive vegetable at the time, so it, too, became a staple food among Irish-Americans. “Corned” simply refers to the size of the salt crystals used to brine the meat.

Shamrocks. In Catholic tradition, the shamrock represents the holy Trinity. Irish folklore says that St. Patrick, Ireland’s renowned Christian missionary, used shamrocks to explain the doctrine of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and how they represent three components of the same God. The shamrock became the national emblem of Ireland and is considered a good-luck symbol.

The color green. Green didn’t always represent St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, blue was traditionally the color associated with the famed patron saint. Given that Ireland has the reputation as the Emerald Isle, green was adopted as the national color and appears on the Irish flag. The wearing of green on St. Patrick’s Day became popular sometime in the 19th century and was a statement of solidarity with the Irish-American community, according to National Geographic.

Leprechauns. Leprechauns are wise beyond their years, bearded and notorious hoarders of gold, but what’s their significance to St. Patrick’s Day? The word leprechaun comes from an Irish word meaning shoemaker, according to LiveScience. In folklore, leprechauns are anything but dignified. Leprechauns traditionally play the role of tricksters in Irish storytelling. They can be ruthless, nasty and unpredictable.

Their connection with St. Patrick’s Day is purely American. People often dress up to look like leprechauns, but many Irish believe the image only perpetuates ethnic stereotypes and don’t appreciate the character being associated with the holiday.

Guinness. On St. Patrick’s Day, the number of pints of Guinness consumed around the world nearly triples. The renowned Irish stout, which originated in Dublin in the early 18th century, was brought to the U.S. hundreds of years ago along with the first Irish immigrants. It remains one of the most popular and successful beers in the world.

The beer appears black or dark brown to many people, but it’s actually a dark ruby red. Guinness is made of roasted malted barley, hops, water and yeast.

Parades. St. Patrick’s’ Day parades are part of almost every major holiday celebration in Ireland and beyond. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in 1762 in New York City and was meant to honor St. Patrick.

To this day, the parade has remained a true marchers’ parade. Floats and vehicles are not allowed in the parade, staying true to the holiday’s 18th century roots.

I just realized I have had no green on me all day long!!! My eyes are green, does that count?

Oh and if you like Irish Soda Bread – here is a recipe that my dear child has made – it is pretty darn delicious!!!

Enjoy your day –



Posted in homesteading | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Medicinal Uses of Roses

Herbal Lesson on Roses

(Rosa spp – usually damascena, centifolia, rugosa)

Wild Rose

Wild Rose

Description – A deciduous bush growing to 7 ft. tall(damascena) with light pink to red flowers. This species is where most of the rose oil comes from. For wild roses, the flowers of native roses are nearly all single five petalled blooms ranging from thumbnail size to perhaps 2 inches in diameter in some shade of pink – rarely white. Centifolia – the rose with a hundred petals, a hybrid climbing rose, highly scented.

Do NOT use knockout roses!!! While they are beautiful, there is no scent and they do not make good medicinal preparations. I tried it and the smell was horrible. :D

Knockout roses in full bloom

Knockout roses in full bloom

Medicinal Properties: cooling, astringent, antidepressant, antiseptic, nervine, creates sense of security, emmenagogue, aphrodisiac, alterative.

The flowers are used for emotional distress, inflamed eyes, grief, PTSD, uterine hemorrhage, amenorrhea, vaginal tears/irritations*, hemorrhoids*, yeast infections(topically)*, add to cosmetic recipes.

Edible: Good source of vitamin C in the rose hips(the fruit of the rose), petals are edible or can be used in teas. A fun and elegant project with rose petals is to paint the petals with raw egg white or if your concerned about salmonella, use meringue powder mixed with water, and sprinkle with sugar. Let dry completely and decorate cupcakes or cakes or just eat them!!! I once made a wedding shower cake with these, years ago and it was beautiful!


*RAW for topical application – Mix equal parts of rose water/hydrosol, witch hazel and aloe vera gel(commercial variety best). Store in the refrigerator and apply as needed with a cotton ball. ** Recipe from the Herbalista**

Tea for the Heart
one part rose petals
one part hawthorne leaves and flowers
one part linden leaves and flowers
one part lemon balm
Blend in a jar. Steep two teaspoons in 8 ounces of water for 15 minutes. Strain
Add honey or stevia to taste.
A fabulous monograph on roses with recipes – here from Methow Valley Herbs.

If you need dried rose petals, Mountain Rose Herbs has some incredible ones.

“The Wild Rose is my most important plant ally, and one that I am continually amazed by. If there is a single plant who has provided me with the most healing, it is this one. My relationship with this thorny beauty deepens each year, and every season the briar teaches me more about boundaries, vulnerability and self-expression. This plant teaches raw, wide open love complete with scars, thorns and an abiding sense of self-knowledge. She teaches that beauty is a bone deep quality, one that we hold in every cell regardless of the pain we’ve lived through or the battles we’ve weathered. In hard years, her petals unfurl skewed and wrinkled but this doesn’t mar her attractiveness. Rather, they add to an already complex character and give her more of the strongly scented medicine she’s known for.”

                                                                         Kiva Rose, herbalist

By Anne-Marie Bilella

Don’t forget for those of you that receive our newsletter by email – one lucky person will win the book “Grow It, Heal It”.

grow it

By reading each blog post this month and being first to answer a question on the last day (I will give a heads up the day before!), someone will get the book. So pay attention to each of the blog posts this month. If you do not receive our monthly newsletter by email here is a link

Have a beautiful day :D

Disclosure statement: While I may recommend certain herbs and foods for any illnesses, allergies, skin conditions, natural beauty care and household cleaning, as a reader and a consumer use what I say to research further on your end. I am not a doctor but I am an herbalist not a licensed practitioner but  always learning to improve our lives and to relay what I  have learned on to you!

Sometimes this site includes affiliate links from trusted companies that I personally deal with and approve. By clicking on the links provided in my posts, I do receive a small commission with each purchase at no cost to you. It helps pay for my time spent writing, exploring new products and to bring you the best content that I can. I hope to provide giveaways that are provided from our affiliates soon.

Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question. Whether you use the link or buy the product is entirely up to you.

Posted in herbal remedies/recipes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

NEW Herbal CSA!

Bella Vista Farm is excited to offer a quarterly share in our new Herbal CSA.

Here are the basics of a CSA if you are unsure of what it is.

While we will not be offering fresh produce and meat, we will be offering a quarterly basket of Herbal Remedies and Fresh Herbs that relate to the season in which it is purchased.

For example, a winter share might include: Elderberry Syrup, Echinacea tincture, Winter Immune Tea, Reusable Heat Pack, Infused Honey, Sugar Scrubs and a Lip Remedy for Chapped Lips.

Our Herbal CSA provides sustainable, healthy, locally produced plant medicines made by with the skill, knowledge, intention and love of your herbalist.

Our products are handcrafted with herbs that we grow, harvest from the wild or from a trusted ethically grown source, with the intention of using as many locally-sourced herbs as possible.

With each basket, you will receive 6 products that may include tinctures, tea blends, salves, lotions, sprays, fresh or dried herbs, infused honey and vinegars with an herbal information sheet showing each product and how to use it as well as recipes. Sometimes we will include a special surprise. :) Each yearly share purchase includes one free $30 class of your choosing.

20150310_092824_resized (1024x576)

Summer basket may include insect repellent, jewelweed salve, calendula tincture, sunflower rose lotion, lip balm and a 1.5 oz tea blend.


This CSA will be limited to 25 people. 2015 Baskets will be distributed in April/June/September/December

If you’d like to support grassroots herbalism consider joining Bella Vista Farm’s CSA today!

Yearly total cost $240. You will receive one basket each quarter for a total of 4 baskets. This is in one payment. If you need a payment plan, contact me by email:

To purchase your share use this link to paypal.

Thank you to friends that cheered me on during this start up process, getting an idea to a launch – you know who you are ;)


Posted in homesteading, shop local | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Oh So Yummy Banana Nutella Muffins

I felt like baking today, just because. Each I day I receive an email from Mavis Butterfield from She is like the energizer bunny of gardening, cooking, saving money etc.

Today she posted this fabulous recipe with bananas and nutella baked in a oh so yummy muffin. Yep I made them! Banana Nutella Muffins!!!

Here is how they are made –



2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 medium over-ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil(I used coconut oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup Nutella, melted (I used Aldi’s brand)

Preheat oven to 350o.

In a bowl mix the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.


In a stand mixer – mix up the bananas and the sugars.

nutella banana1

Add in the egg, oil and vanilla, mix well. **I did semi melt the coconut oil and let it cool slightly so as not to cook the egg. :)**


Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated, do not over mix!


Scoop into paper lined muffin tins. Spoon a bit of melted nutella on the top of each muffin batter. Take a toothpick and swirl it in.



Bake 18-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean BUT test an area without the nutella, if possible.


Let cool – maybe :D and EAT lots of them!!!



Posted in recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Trip to The International Market

Today was rainy, blah and the kid was home from school for Spring Break so I decided to take a trip to the Buford Hwy Farmer’s Market. Of course it took the old “will ya buy me lunch at the market?” Sometimes when you go out with a teen, you either get silence because they decided to take a nap or you get a really fun conversation. Well I got the really good conversation. :)

The trip took about 35 minutes to drive in the yucky, dreary, misty rain. I only had about twelve items on the list (mainly rose water, real rose water) to get at the international market, the market I only get to go to about once every two months BUT can you really only get just those TWELVE items?! HECK NO!!!!!!

I believe there were approximately 30 items in the cart including lunch – sushi and shrimp wraps in rice paper. The store was soooooo empty midday on a Tuesday, it was fabulous!

mkt veg

Just for fun, I took some pictures, just in case you’ve never been. :) Also if you only thought there were five varieties of butter, think again  there was butter from every corner of the world and all countries in between!


How about cheeses? –

mkt butter

This beautiful loaf of rye was calling my name, “Anne-Marie come take me home, you must get me sliced too!!!!” Yep it came home and boy oh boy, one of the most delicious rye breads with a super sourdoughy taste and chewy crust.

mkt rye

It is the loaf on the left, all crackly and giant! So stinking delicious!!!!

mkt rye2

I ATE 3 slices already :)

And how many kinds of kimchi do you need? how about like 37?

how many kimchi varieties can there be???

how many kimchi varieties can there be???

The beautiful fruit and veggie section is to die for!

And some random aisles. JUST because!


Fancy rice!

Fancy rice!

OK so these soups are not REAL FOOD friendly but the kid REALLY loves them :)

super spicy "fancy" ramen soups

super spicy “fancy” ramen soups

AND Turkish Delight – we all decided is quite, well icky to be nice – anyone want them???

mkt turk

mkt turk2

Hope your day was amazing!


Posted in shop local | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Farm Chores and Loving What I do!

What do you think of farm chores? Sometimes I wonder about those that live in a subdivision with a tiny yard, never wanting to step foot in a farm, what do they do all day? Most probably have the cleanest house – worth of being in the pages of Southern Living magazine with everything orderly, in perfect shape with pillows that have that puffed up look then a crease in the top, staged ever so perfectly on the sofa. HA!

You won’t find that here. :) Yes my house is clean, somewhat neat, sometimes cluttered but it only takes a bit of effort to make it “company” ready. I would rather go outside and clean stalls, move hay, plant, weed, hike – A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G but clean and primp for a picture perfect house.

It was freezing the day I took these pictures but I laugh now thinking back to the picture that went around facebook below – that is what I felt like and needed to get outside!

screw it gardening


I did go out in the garden to play with the beds adding food scraps, compost, layers etc…

garden compost hole


First I dug a hole in one of the raised beds with my small hoe/rake thingy(LOVE this tool!), then I dumped in the kitchen scraps.

garden compost


Covered it up with dirt and added a layer of straw –

garden layer straw


Covered that layer with compost – here is a pic of the compost pile but I forgot to take one when I covered the bed. :D



My hens do the turning for me –

manure chickens

Then a layer of leaves –




Look what I found growing?!

gardenbrussel sprouts!!!!

On to take the tarp off the hay and move it around cause it got wet a bit from the ice – boo. :(

Finally Tina does what she does best – EAT!



Love my horse :)

By this time my hands were frozen so done for the day! Hope you have a beautiful day today in whatever you do!




Posted in homesteading | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment