Herbs add flavor to our cooking and to our lives. It’s a shame to let that end with the first frost. Keep the magic growing indoors all winter! Imagine snipping fresh rosemary in the middle of winter and adding it to your soup or chicken. The aroma released smells amazing! Yes, herbs can be houseplants and just like other houseplants, the trick is to get the light, water, and humidity right.
Below, you’ll find the herbs that grow well indoors have been separated into three groups along with some growing tips.
Chives - Pot up in the fall and allow to freeze before bringing in. They need a south or bright west window.
Aloe vera - Grows best in moderate bright light. Avoid direct sun.
Mint - One of the easiest herbs to grow indoors! Give it moderate to bright light and consistent moisture.
Sage - Place in a south window that receives direct sun. Keep it on the dryer side. Water the soil, not the foliage.
UNDER ARTIFICIAL LIGHT
Cilantro - Needs 5-8 hours of light each day; also grows well under artificial lights.
Parsley - Grow in bright light or artificial light.
Basil - It needs as much bright light you can give it, or grow under lights. It’s best to start new basil plants from seed late in late summer. Always remove the flowers to encourage leaf production.
A BIT MORE CHALLENGING
Lavender - 5-6 hours of direct sun daily. Water soil, not foliage. Let soil dry out between waterings.
Lemongrass - Direct sun in a south-facing window is best. Reduce watering in winter, but never let the soil dry out.
Oregano - Needs 5-6 hours of bright sunlight every day.
Rosemary - Give it bright light with some direct sunlight. Set in trays of pebbles and water to increase humidity and never allow it to dry out. Misting frequently will also help.
Thyme - Pot up in fall and allow to freeze before bringing in. Give it 5-6 hours of direct sun. It may need supplemental artificial light.
So are you ready for an herbal adventure? You’ve got nothing to lose and so much to gain by growing herbs as houseplants.
"Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again". - Joseph Campbell
I've long had an affinity for the word 'sanctuary'. Maybe spending Sundays as a child and as an adult going to church has something to do with it. There's a feeling of holiness and awe when in the sacred part of a church, aka sanctuary, and no wonder as it's God's house. Even now, as Bella Botanica is housed in an old church, there's a sense of peace within these walls - a haven, if you will.
Our homes are another type of sanctuary. It was our safe place during the pandemic, and continues to be a safe place to come home to after a day at work. As an empty nester, I want my home to be a place where my kids always want to come back to, to feel welcome, loved, and safe. When days grow shorter and cooler, there's another yearning to turn towards home. We light candles, cuddle under cozy blankets, read books, watch movies, drink hot cider - all in our homes - our sanctuaries.
This fall I've been fascinated with the concept of minimalism. I began to clear space in our office in September, applied the cozy minimalist decorating guidelines, and I love the result! What a joy to be in that room where everything has a purpose and a place, and the clutter is gone - hallelujah! In this clutter-free space, I can think more clearly and feel less stressed. I want to do each room in my house now! But perhaps more important than decluttering rooms in my house, I need to declutter the rooms in my heart - my inner sanctuary. That begins with clearing space to determine what matters.
When we take the time to clear space on the inside to allow room for grace, peace, and contentment, it's called soul minimalism. Author Emily P. Freeman defines it like this: "A soul minimalist is a person who looks inward and intentionally elevates what she most values and works to remove what distracts her from it."
But how do we do that? From what I'm learning, it's paying attention to sources of stress, to what is positive and life-giving, and that sometimes it's ok to say no. It's setting aside time to reflect and take care of ourselves. We must fill our own vessel before we can fill others'. It's ok and necessary to practice self-care. Part of that self-care is pausing to listen to what our hearts are trying to tell us.
In her book 'Soulful Minimalism', Courtney Carver writes about a heart practice. This is what it looks like: create a sanctuary (a space) where you can sit for five minutes a day - in a cozy chair, on a yoga mat, outside in nature. Maybe light a candle. Sit quietly, holding one hand over your heart and your other hand covering both. Breathe deeply in through your nose, out through your mouth. Feel your heart beating. Continue to breathe deeply, almost like a sigh. She shares that a sigh is an acronym for Sitting In God's Hands. When I think of that, sitting there holding and listening to my heart, while God holds me, something happens, friends. It's a deeply emotional and spiritual experience for me. There is something there my heart is trying to tell me, or maybe that God is telling me. And I need to listen.
Those moments of silence can teach us something. " In the act of silence, you're not waiting for God to make a move, you're becoming aware of the moves he's making", writes Brennan Manning. Doesn't that give you goosebumps? There's something else, too. When I found the photo above, of the girl in the field of daisies sitting in sunlit rays, I instantly connected with it. That young girl - she could be the young version of me or of you - she's there, too. In those moments when my hand is on my heart, and I am listening, her voice is there, too. What is she telling me? I must be still so I can hear.
I've long struggled with living in the moment. For as long as I can remember, I've had a to-do list. And the reality is that that to-do list is creating my life. Is this the life I want? What if instead of a to-do list, I live from a to-be list. Learning how to just be is not easy. It doesn't come naturally to me, so again, I need to intentionally practice it. I'm finding that one of the best ways to live in the moment is to employ the five senses. Become aware of the sounds around me, the aromas that fill the room, how that cup of tea really tastes on the tongue, and open my eyes to the beauty in. this. moment.
This moment. This season. Each has a sweetness all its own. As we begin a new month in this lovely autumnal season, let's discover how to experience it in a soulful way. In her book, Creating Sanctuary, Jessi Bloom suggests setting seasonal intentions. So I ask myself, and you, to consider these questions:
1. What am I ready to let go of?
2. What is waiting to emerge in me?
3. What is calling for my attention deep in my soul?
4. What quality do I want to embody in this new season?
5. What do I want to do in this new season and more importantly, what do I want to stop doing?
So I ask you to be brave with me, to breathe deeply, and to hold your heart in your hands. Be still and listen. What's in your heart? Do you need to make a decision? Is it time to make some peace? Be gentle with yourself and show yourself some grace. Take one step towards making space in your soul. You are a treasure and worth far more than rubies. Blessings to you.
The Next Right Thing Podcast #193: A Soul Minimalist's Guide to Autumn
The Soulful Minimalist by Courtney Carver
Creating Sanctuary by Jessi Bloom
The fall season is upon us, and after a dry spring and summer, many are ready to throw in the trowel and call the 2021 gardening season a wrap. But I urge you to take a close look at the perennials in your landscape this fall. We tend to rely on trees and shrubs to give us the lovely orange, red, and yellow hues that delight us, but perennials can offer an autumnal beauty of their own. Take time to observe if any in your yard offer fall interest or do they offer perpetual problems? Here are a few problems that I commonly see in the fall landscape along with solutions:
Problem: Black-eyed Susans with black spots on leaves
This is known as Septoria Leaf Spot, and no matter the precautions and cleanup methods used, it always returns. The solution? Replace those cheery yellow flowers with newer cultivars that are resistant to that disease.
Solution: Rudbeckia ‘Sweet as Honey’ (shown above) is a brand new black-eyed Susan cultivar that is a great performer and is covered with blooms from July through September.It’s narrow foliage is disease resistant. Plant it with Sporobolus heterolepis ‘Golden Prairie’ for a lovely fall display.
Problem: Asters with bare legs
This embarrassing problem is prevalent with many older, taller varieties of Asters. You can camouflage those bare stems by planting shorter perennials in front of them, but there are better Asters that hold their leaves and have beautiful blossoms in September and October.
Solution: Aster macrophyllus ‘Twilight’ (shown above) is my pick for one of those better Asters. The showy purplish-blue flowers attract bees and butterflies, and it serves as host and nectar plant.
Problem: One-season Sedum
We wait all season watching the sedum grow up and finally begin to flower in early fall. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a sedum that shows color earlier?
Solution: Sedum ‘Sunset Boulevard’ (shown above). I have fallen in love with this sedum, with it’s mauve stems and hints of pink through the summer months. Raspberry-colored flowers appear in early fall and the leaves change to shades of orange and red. What more could you want?
Problem: Lack of good fall foliage color
I’m always on the lookout for perennials that offer interest in more than one season - especially foliage with fall color.
Solution: Penstemon ‘Pocahontas’ (shown above) is one such plant and checks several boxes on the list. It’s quite the sight to behold when in bloom, and it’s burgundy foliage remains from spring into fall.
Problem: Lack of Fall Flowers for Pollinators
Solution: In addition to the perennials mentioned above, there is one more to add to the fall garden, and that is Vernonia also known as Ironweed. V. ‘Southern Cross’ (shown above) is one that has caught my attention the last couple years. The plant grows 3’ tall and wide in full sun. The fine, narrow foliage stays fresh all summer and purple flower buds look like little jewels before opening to the purple blossoms that are loved by butterflies. Ornamental grasses are a great companion to this must-have perennial.
There’s much to enjoy in the fall landscape, so maximize yours with better, smarter perennial selections.
It's time to harvest your basil! Hopefully you have been snipping some all summer, but now it's time to get serious. Basil is pretty touchy when it comes to cold temperatures which can dip down into the 40's on September nights.
Here are a few tips:
- Early morning is the best time to harvest for the best flavor.
- Cut back up to half of the plant.
- Keep cuttings in a glass of water if you can't get to them right away.
- There are several ways to preserve basil. One is to freeze it with olive oil in an ice cube tray.
We recently had the two women from Hickory Grove Farm here at Bella Botanica at our Afternoon Herbal Tea event. Marge Koenecke and Beth Malliet shared the following recipe for making pesto with basil and parsley. Following their demonstration, they used the pesto to make Pesto Pizza Rounds which are a super quick hors d'euvre to make. So yummy! Enjoy!
¼ c. pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, or pecans toasted at 350 degrees for 8-10 min
2 cloves garlic
1 c. fresh spinach, packed
1 c. fresh basil, packed
½ c. fresh parsley, packed
½ tsp. salt
½ c. good quality olive oil
¾ c. freshly grated parmesan cheese
In food processor, puree nuts, garlic, spinach, basil, parsley, and salt. Add olive oil and blend Add parmesan cheese. Pulse briefly. Do not overblend.
PESTO PIZZA ROUNDS
2 baguettes, sliced ½” thick
½ c. pizza sauce
½ c. parmesan cheese
Lay slices of bread on cookie sheet. Spread a little pizza sauce and a dollop of pesto on each slice of bread. Top with a sprinkle of the remaining ½ c. cheese. Place under broiler about 3 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and bread is toasted. Serve hot or at room temperature.
What's your favorite basil recipe, and how do you preserve basil?
Enlightenment dawned during a recent thrifting trip to Goodwill. I love the hunt for a forgotten treasure, but as I walked down aisle after aisle, I was overwhelmed with the sheer magnitude of stuff that we accumulate as a society. So many knickknacks, choochkies, dishes, clothes, and the list goes on. I know that donations like these can help many people who don't have much, but it has made me stop and think.
I had to ask myself this question: How am I, as a consumer, contributing to this problem of too much stuff. Admittedly, I have over-consumed to a certain degree. There are closets and a basement to prove it. But why? Why do I have so much stuff? Why do I buy things in the first place? Are these things essential? Do they add value to my life? Do they bring me joy after the first day or two?
I've started listening to a podcast called 'The Minimalists' by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. I've got to say that I'm hooked! Here are two quotes by Joshua which inspire me:
“Minimalism is a tool we use to live a meaningful life. There are no rules. Rather, minimalism is simply about stripping away the unnecessary things in your life so you can focus on what’s important”.
The other is this: "Addition by subtraction". Simplifying our stuff can be the first step to simplifying our lives. And by doing so, we add more meaning to them. It's the 'less is more' concept. A simple lifestyle offers us more time, more creativity, more freedom, more contentment. . .
This art of simple living appeals to me, but where to start? I decided to begin with something tangible - something I could see tangible results in a short period of time - simplifying a room in my house.
I've been wanting to change the paint color of the walls in the office for awhile now. With starting a new business and becoming empty nesters, we don't use the room in the same way as we once did. So it's time for a redo, and I want to do it with a minimalist mindset. What better to listen to than The Cozy Minimalist by Myquillyn Smith.
Friends, this book is AMAZING! Her method of redecorating a room goes something like this:
1. Determine the purpose of the room.
2. Start a Pinterest board of inspiration and pin with passion! How fun is that?!
3. Quiet the room. This means take everything out of the room except large pieces of furniture and let the room speak.
This is the point where my husband thinks I'm off my rocker as he finds me sitting in an empty room - just sitting and listening to the room 'speak'. But it works! Having everything off the walls, no rugs, no chairs, no 'stuff', allows you to imagine all the possibilities.
Then the order goes something like this: arrange the furniture different ways until your find the best way; add in necessary seating and surfaces; then on to rugs, drapes, and lighting. I can't give the rest away, because you should read the book, too! But, I will tell you that changing the paint color on the walls is one of the last things you do, as is adding in all the decor and meaningful mementos that personalize the room. I'm still in the middle of this project, but I'm determined to follow her recommended steps, and to only put those things back into this room that are essential or that bring me joy.
In her book. Myquillyn asks this question: Are you a stuff manager or a home curator? A stuff manager is one who does this: "look through stuff, put stuff away, organize stuff, feel guilty because I haven't organized other stuff. . . pile up stuff, pack away stuff, and move around stuff." A home curator is one who makes careful decisions about what is brought into her home, and adds style with less stuff. Ouch! I want to be a home curator, but often I find myself a stuff manager. How about you?
This whole process has inspired me to put more thought into my purchases, not only as a home owner, but as a shoppe owner. I definitely don't want to contribute to this problem of consumerism and overspending, so I'm carefully and thoughtfully curating goods in my shoppe that will help YOU become a home curator. And support other small businesses in the process - bonus!
I'll leave you with two practical decorating tips from the cozy minimalist herself that have had the most impact on me as I decorate for the seasons:
As a home curator, purchase less seasonal store-bought decorations, and use more of what nature offers. For example, invest in a lovely vase that can be left out year-round (aka attractive even when empty), and add a faux botanical stem or foraged branches. Beautiful and simple.
As a home curator, consider the five senses as you decorate for fall:
1. Smell: Candles! What are the fragrances of fall? Pumpkin, apple, spices . . .
2. Sight: Autumnal hues can be reflected in pillows, in pottery, and a simple arrangement of mini pumpkins, pinecones, and bittersweet in a wooden bowl; a planted fall container on the front porch accompanied with a fall wreath on the door. . .
3. Touch: It's all about cozy and about texture. Soft blankets in rattan baskets, holding a book in your hand as you read, touching pen and paper as you handwrite a note to a friend, or enjoying the feel of your favorite mug in your hand. . .
4. Sound: Maybe it's a crackling fire, geese migrating, or certain songs. I love classical music in the fall and am working on a Spotify play list for fall. What would your fall playlist sound like?
5. Taste: This is a fun category that includes pumpkin desserts, fall-flavored coffee, caramel apples, soups, harvested vegetables, preserved fruits. . .
Simple living is made up of simple pleasures. For me, it's about connecting with nature, making memories, spending time with those we love, and showing kindness to everyone. It's putting the focus on people, not on things. It's about making thoughtful, intentional decisions when it comes to stuff. And it's about being content with what we have. To me, that's the art of simple. What does the art of simple look like to you?
Below, you'll find a few resources that I highly recommend if a cozy minimalist lifestyle appeals to you, along with an easy way to fill your home with all the fall smells. Blessings as you transition from one season to another, and may you find joy and contentment in the simple things life offers.
The Cozy Minimalist by Myquillyn Smith
Love People, Use Things by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus
The Minimalists podcast
Follow @thenester on Instagram
AN EASY SIMMERING POTPOURI FOR FALL
In a saucepan or slow cooker, combine the following:
1/2 orange (sliced), 4-6 cinnamon sticks, 1 tsp. vanilla, 2 tsp. whole cloves. Simmer in water. Check frequently and add water if necessary.
ENCOURAGEMENT FROM GOD'S WORD:
... I say it is better to be content with what little you have. Otherwise, you will always be struggling for more, and that is like chasing the wind.
I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have and with everything that happens. I know how to live when I am poor, and I know how to live when I have plenty. I have learned the secret of being happy at any time in everything that happens, when I have enough to eat and when I go hungry, when I have more than I need and when I do not have enough. I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength.
Sunflowers and dragonflies. That's August.
Growing up, August days were filled with the essence of summer. My childhood was spent roaming the untamed woods and fields on my parents' property with my four siblings. There were August gatherings of family and friends to celebrate birthdays, meadows in which to sit among wildflowers and watch dragonflies hover and dart, and always a quiet spot to get lost in a good book.
Looking back, those days were a gift, and I'm so grateful for a childhood that held love, contentment, and joy. Today, now in my 52nd August, I have to admit that lately, joy has been allusive - a bit like the dragonflies. There has been a deep sadness that fills me due to a loss of relationships, and there is some grieving that goes along with that. Grief has replaced joy, or at least has stifled it. I could easily allow that sadness to dwell inside me indefinitely. But after a month of intentional reflection and collecting the quiet, I've come to realize that I cannot let outside circumstances consume me. I cannot let them control my life. I have a choice! I can let the sadness pull me into depression, or I can choose to fill that void with something uplifting.
So I choose joy. Just saying those words is empowering, like taking the first step forward. Joy. It's different from happiness which is based on circumstances - like a rollercoaster of emotion. But I can be joy-filled despite circumstances. Joy comes from a spring deep within, drawing life from a well of gratitude and contentment. Author Ann Voskamp writes, "Being joyful isn't what makes you grateful. Being grateful is what makes you joyful." In her book, One Thousand Gifts, she shares a profound connection between gratitude and joy. Are you ready for it? The Greek word for joy is chara and the Greek word for thanksgiving is eucharisteo - euCHARisteo. It's right there! Joy (chara) is literally found in the word thanksgiving (euCHARisteo)! I read those words for the first time several years ago, and I still get goosebumps when I read them.
There's one more missing piece to the joy puzzle, at least for me, and it's another Greek word - charis. It means grace. Grace that comes from a God who loves unconditionally, and who is the source of a deep, holy joy. Charis - eucharisteo - chara. Grace, thanksgiving, and joy. I want that again. I NEED that again. So I choose to be joyful and it starts right now - today - at this moment. And it will be how I start every day, no matter what is happening in the world, in our country, in my family, or in my personal life. Those things are beyond my control. However, I can control one thing, and that is my response.
Did you know that sunflowers follow the sun from east to west as young buds? Then, when fully mature, their flowers face east to greet the sun every morning. And did you know that dragonflies begin life in dark water before rising up to the light? When sunlight hits their colorless bodies, they become beautiful, colorful, and iridescent - transformed by the sun. They continue their homage and begin each day drying their wings in the warmth of the sun. Like sunflowers and dragonflies, I invite you to join me and begin each day this month with gratitude. Let's be thankful for at least one small thing, because that one small thing will lead to a little bit of joy. Speak it or write it - it doesn't matter. What matters is acknowledging it. Let's mark the days of August by listing more and more small things, so August can become filled with joyful moments. Each day a step forward. Each day a step towards transformation and a joy-filled life.
I'll leave you with this thought:
"If you let something steal your thanksgiving, you let something steal your joy, and if you let something steal your joy, you let something steal your strength." - Ann Voskamp
and this encouraging scripture:
"Be joyful because you have hope. Be patient when trouble comes, and pray at all times." - Romans 12:12 (NCV)
Two books I recommend:
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and the devotional companion
The book of Philippians which is known as the Letter of Joy
At the top of today's gratitude list: sunflowers and dragonflies. What's on yours?
Hi, I'm Tracy - horticulturist, beauty-seeker, Word-lover, and blessed to be the owner of Bella Botanica. I also love to write about plants, gardening, and about my faith journey. Thanks for reading!