Lovely Chili Hot Chocolate with Rose Petals


Love-Me-Dew at Shine Restaurant & Gathering Place, Boulder, CO


On a recent visit to Boulder, I had the pleasure of visiting one of my favorite restaurants, Shine Restaurant and Gathering Place. And one of my favorite things about Shine is their offering of “potions,” which are a “thoughtfully and lovingly concocted array of fantastic, non-alcoholic brews, using a rich assortment of herbs, vibrational-essences, juices, spices, coconut milk and natural sodas.”

This time around, I tried the Love-Me-Dew, which is coconut milk infused with cocoa, chili powder, rose petals, raspberry agave and vibrational essence of rose quartz. It is designed to enhance feelings of self-acceptance and self-love. It certainly evoked feelings of love for this drink – since I tasted it, I have been craving it! So, I thought I would try making my own version given ingredients I had around the house.

Here is my version:

  • 2 cups almond milk (best when you have time to make your own)
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (more or less, depending on your taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ancho chili powder (Shine uses chimayo; you can use more or less, depending on how spicy you like it)
  • A few sprinkles of finely chopped dried organic rose petals for garnish (make sure you use culinary roses)

Heat the almond milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it just starts to steam. Lower the heat and add the cocoa powder, maple syrup and chili powder. Stir until well-blended and remove from heat. Divide into two ceramic mugs and sprinkle a half-teaspoon of rose petals on top of each. Share the love!


Please Join Us at Treat Yo’ Self Artisan Market on 2/8!

treat_yo_self_2_8_15We hope you can join us for Treat Yo’ Self, an artisan pop-up event at Derek Brown’s trifecta of Shaw Neighborhood restaurants Eat the Rich, Mockingbird Hill and Southern Efficiency. The event will be held on February 8, from 3:30-8:30, and we’ll be selling Valentine’s Day gift sets for him and her. Each venue will will offer food and drink specials for the day and will feature a music soundtrack curated by Derek Brown and One Love Massive.

Treat Yo’ Self is a pre-Valentine’s holiday market offering locally made distinctive gifts for from a hand selected group of DC-area artisans chosen for their consistency in quality, appearance and sustainability. It’s a perfect way to get something special and different for yourself or your boo this Valentine’s Day. 

Hope to see you there!

All Around the Parkberry Bush: Fresh Mulberry Cobbler


Back in 2010, I wrote a post singing the praises of mulberries (abundant in the Mid-Atlantic this time of year), after discovering a perfect foraging spot in a nearby park. In the post, I included a recipe for mulberry pie, which is just one of many great ways to use these berries.

Since then, mulberry picking has become an annual tradition for us, and besides pies, I have made sauces and syrups. This year, I thought I would try some quick and easy, and decided on a simple cobbler.


The berries were in various stages of ripeness, so we picked about 3 cups of deep red/purple mulberries, and may go back for another batch in a couple of weeks. We avoided the white unripe ones. Wildman Steve Brill warns that unripe berries, uncooked young leaves, and mature leaves are toxic and mildly hallucinogenic and cause terrible headaches and upset stomachs.

When foraging, it is also important to make sure that anything you eat hasn’t been sprayed with toxic chemicals. The park where we harvested these berries is in a pesticide-free buffer zone since it is within a 2-mile radius around a school.

IMG_9346To make the cobbler, I adapted Southern Forager‘s Totally Awesome Mulberry Cobbler recipe by using dairy substitutes, but you can use regular milk and butter instead of the almond milk and Earth Balance. I also added some vanilla extract and fresh lemon to give it some zest. Mulberries are tasty, but lack acidity, so the lemon adds a nice balance to the sweetness of the berries.

1/3 cup Earth Balance vegetable spread
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup organic cane sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups of mulberries (you can leave the stems on, as they will soften during cooking)
Juice and grated rind of 1/2 lemon

Preheat your oven to 325°F. Put the Earth Balance in an 8″x8″ baking pan and place in the oven until the spread is melted. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients. Mix in almond milk, maple syrup and vanilla until smooth. Toss the berries with the lemon juice and grated peel, and spread over bottom of baking pan. Pour the batter into the baking pan over the berries. Bake 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy!

IMG_9348Wildman Steve Brill offers a vegan mulberry crumble recipe, which calls for mint. I found this recipe after I had made my cobbler, but will keep it in mind for the next batch of mulberries we harvest.


Herban Lifestyle Store Grand Opening, Feb 8th!


At the end of November, we moved into a large studio space in the Merrifield neighborhood of Fairfax. The space has a showroom in the front, which we have turned into the Herban Lifestyle Store! To celebrate our new space, we are hosting a Grand Opening on February 8, 2014 from 3:00pm to 6:00pm. We will have food & beverages (including delicious treats from Thunder Pig Confectionary and Momme Meals), samples, product-making demo, discounts and a drawing to win a free DIY kit! For more information, check out our Eventbrite invitation or Facebook Event Page.

At the store, customers can see and sniff our entire line and learn about the various organic and Fair Trade ingredients that go into them. The store also serves as a gathering spot for people to share practical ideas about sustainability, self-sufficiency, creative reuse, and safer products. You are welcome to join events or use hands-on resources at the store, including:

• Workshops where you can learn how to make your own truly natural personal care and household products, as well as other green crafting techniques, including a Couple’s Valentine Craft Night on February 12 and Make Your Own Organic Spa Products on February 19.

• A learning library for those of you who want to make your own bath and body products, plus a variety of USDA Certified Organic and Fair Trade Certified ingredients and sustainable packaging.



logoWe hope you can join us!

Artist of the Month: Anne Ferrari of Vita Pulita

055_0The following post was written by Anne Ferrari, Owner and Founder of Vita Pulita, the first Herban Lifestyle Store Artist of the Month. During the month of December, Anne’s soaps will be featured at our new brick and mortar store in Fairfax, VA.

I was always fascinated by soap. As a child growing up in the Bronx, NY, I didn’t have many soap options, but I was still fascinated with making soap pretty. My holiday gift to my first grade teacher was an ordinary bar of soap on which I pinned a homemade pompom. The obsession with soap remains. It wasn’t until my good friend Mary Kearns shared with me that she had started making soap herself that I was finally inspired to give it a try. And once I did, there was no turning back.


As a professor with a PhD in psychology, I am accustomed to using research in my work experience. This serves me well as soap ingredients need a great deal of research too. One customer of mine confessed that she didn’t worry too much about what she put on her skin as she believed that it was not absorbed by her body. Unfortunately, research on breast cancer and the use of parabens in beauty products shows us otherwise. Vita Pulita products never contain parabens, as they never contain artificial fragrances or colors. They are products that I feel confident using and sharing with my family. In fact, Vita Pulita was born of necessity, when my pregnant daughter could not find a safe yet still luxurious body butter. I whipped up a combination of unrefined shea butter, unrefined cocoa butter, rice bran oil, and essential oil. I still sell that body butter, and it is a customer favorite.

Although I am not an artist, one of my favorite things about making soap is making it beautiful. Many of us assume that” beauty” and “natural” do not go together and quite frankly, there are some colors that simply cannot be made naturally in soap, such as a vibrant blue. However, natural soap can be just as lovely, especially when one dives into her creative side. Check out my White Wedding Soap, Carrot Orange Soap with Cocoa, Black Charcoal Facial Detox Soap, Cupcake Soap or Pink Sea Salt Bar and see what you think. All of the colors and scents in Vita Pulita Soaps are from natural and healthy sources, such as plant essential oils and ground up spices. If a color or scent cannot be made using this method, then it will not be made.


It wasn’t until recently that my father shared with me that his mother made soap in Italy from olive pomace left over from the farm. I was shocked, but not surprised. I was named for her after all (over the protests of my mother who did not care for the sound of “Anna Maria”), as I was born on the anniversary of her death. And I chose to name my company Vita Pulita, which means “clean life” in Italian, although I don’t speak Italian myself. Perhaps the founder of analytical psychology, Carl Jung, would say that my need to “soap” is part of my family collective unconscious, inherent in me. It certainly feels that way at times.

You can find Anne’s products online at the Vita Pulita website, on Etsy and seasonally at markets in Westchester County.

Minted Lemonade: Recipe for a Perfect Summer Drink


In my opinion, two of the quintessential flavors of summer are lemon and mint. And when combined, they create a harmonious flavor combination that is bright and sunny. One of my favorite summer recipes is homemade lemonade, a tasty tonic. Lemons provide us with healthful amounts of Vitamin C and potassium. And mint is, among many other things, uplifting, breath-freshening and soothing for the digestive system.

Homemade minted lemonade is simple to make, requiring just 4 ingredients! Here’s my recipe:


  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 cup organic evaporated cane sugar
  • 2 cups freshly squeezed, strained lemon juice
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 4 cups of filtered water


Combine the sugar and 1 cup of water in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is clear. Set aside to cool.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

Place the lemon juice in a large pitcher with the mint leaves (you can crush some of the leaves to release a bit more mint flavor).


Add the remaining water to the lemon and mint, then sweeten to taste with the simple syrup. Refrigerate for at least one hour to allow the flavors to blend.


How to Make Violet Cordial

It’s that wonderful time of the year when violets make their brief appearance, and my yard is filled with the beautiful little deep-purple flowers. A few years ago, I posted a tutorial on how to make violet syrup, and I thought it would be fun to revive that recipe with a twist. I made the same basic syrup, but added some vodka to the mixture to make a lovely violet cordial that can be sipped by itself or added to other beverages to make a light floral cocktail. The variety of violets I have in my yard are only slightly fragrant, so the cordial has a mild floral flavor. Different varieties will yield different tastes.

violetsyrup02I began by gathering 2 cups of violets, making sure to choose only those blooms that were open and free of bites and blemishes. When you are harvesting edible wild flowers, make sure that you are picking them from locations that are free from pesticide or other chemical applications.


I placed the violets into a colander and rinsed them thoroughly.


Then placed them in a Mason jar and covered them with 2 cups of boiling water. The water almost immediately began to turn a gorgeous sapphire blue! I let the violet infusion cool, then placed it in the refrigerator and let it steep for 24 hours.


After 24 hours, I strained out the violet blossoms, squeezing them to get out all the gorgeous purple hue. I placed some in a bowl so that I could show you what a brilliant color it made.violetsyrup07

I placed the strained liquid into a heavy-bottomed saucepan.


Then added 2 cups of organic cane sugar and let this mixture come to a boil.

violetsyrup11I then turned down the heat to medium and let it cook at a low boil for about 10 minutes, stirring often.

violetsyrup10I removed the syrup from the heat, then added the strained juice of half a lemon. The acid from the lemon made the syrup go from deep violet to a beautiful magenta color.violetsyrup09

I then mixed the syrup, 50/50, with organic vodka and bottled it in sterilized capped glass jars, which I bought at the Container Store.

violetsyrup12After letting it sit for 2 weeks, it was ready to decant. It is very sweet by itself, but makes a lovely addition to champagne or sparkling water. Enjoy!