The Herb Blurb – December 2022

I love the holiday season for all of the long-treasured festivities. Mine include the sumptuous array at the Christmas Eve appetizer party followed by a night walk in a local mountain park with my rowdy family, the pageantry of the Nutcracker Ballet, the zoo and botanic garden light displays and the lighting of the Yule log.

It is a wonderful time of year to celebrate. Go to a chapel and hear a choir sing. Craft Christmas decorations or cookies with the kids. Go ice skating or cross-country skiing. Make some spiced hot cider or cocoa and watch a Christmas special by the fire. Bundle up and take a walk out in the hush and beauty of a star-filled, snow-covered winter night. There are so many ways to enjoy this season, put away the credit card and computer and try something different.

Fun Things to Do!

Light Shows
What fun to bundle up and go out for some amazing light shows. The closer you get to Christmas the more crowded it gets so reserve early, weeknights are best. Make your timed reservations online.

Denver Botanic Gardens, through January 7. Two locations, Blossoms of Light at the York St. location downtown, and Trail of Lights at Chatfield Farms, C470 and Wadsworth. Entertainment and lovely light displays. 

Denver Zoo – Zoo Lights, through January 15.Fantastic lights, ice sculpting, treats, and live animals.

Hudson Gardens, select dates through December 31, wagon rides, Santa, and a one-mile illuminated trail through the gardens.

9 News Parade of Lights, December 3, the big guy in downtown Denver. Go early to get a spot.

Boulder Lights of December Parade, Dec. 3, downtown Boulder, 6pm. Floats, marching bands, carolers, and Santa.

Georgetown Christmas Market, December 3-4 & 10-11. An old-time mountain celebration, entertainment, hay rides, craft vendors, food, and roasted chestnuts on an open fire.

Check for more fun things to do.

Holiday Gifting, So Overrated

Instead of succumbing to the annual tradition of copious consumption and January regret, give some thought to your gift-giving this year. Other than the kids and my 94-year-old Mom, my family is celebrating Christmas by just being together. How much of what we give and receive is really appreciated? I’m looking forward to having some great meals, snowball fights, and catching up without all the pressure of gift-giving and receiving.

You can also consider concert or theater tickets. How about a membership to the Zoo, the Botanic Gardens, or a museum that provides a year of fun and interest.

Remember those coupon books you gave to your Mom when you were little? Or was this only me? How about a coupon for babysitting? Cleaning out the garage? A home-cooked meal or carryout? There are also movie tickets, a salsa lesson, a massage, or a mani/pedi at the local salon. If you are always too busy to meet with friends, treat them to lunch or a happy hour date. This will be more appreciated than some gift hastily ordered on Amazon. Cut down on the waste and bedlam of the holidays. An interesting article:

With all the misery and hardship in the world, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and just focus on ourselves and our own little world. Every act of kindness, no matter how small, gives light to the darkness. Who can you reach out to this season? A homeless shelter? A friend in hard times? A family in need? Give the gift of kindness, it helps us all and will soothe your harried soul.

Holiday Gifting, So Overrated
 Every act of kindness, no matter how small, gives light to darkness.

Plan Ahead - Upcoming Classes!

First classes of the New Year and a good start on those New Year’s Resolutions.

Nourishing Self-Care Mini Retreat and Workshop, Denver Botanic Gardens
It’s a new year and a new beginning. Take a day away for pampering, fun, new friends, and starting the year off right. Consider what you want to bring into your life this year. We’ll cover setting intentions, herbal tonics, health-boosting superfoods, and natural skin products you can make yourself. Learn simple self-care practices to regain balance and vibrant health. Make and bring home a soothing skin salve, a cleansing face mask, and a tonic tea, along with recipes, a comprehensive handout, and lots of new ideas for becoming your best self. Superfoods lunch and all materials included. Treat yourself!

Saturday, 1/28/23, 10am - 2:30pm.

Denver Botanic Gardens, Price: $113, $105 member.

Art of Pressed Flowers, Denver Botanic Gardens
Can't wait for spring flowers? Spend an enjoyable morning creating your own masterpieces with gorgeous, pressed flowers. Create beautiful floral bookmarks, unique cards, and a lovely botanical-dipped candle to take home. Learn the best flowers to grow for future projects, and how to press for optimal color, durability, and long life. Handout and all materials provided.

Saturday, 2/4/23, 9:30am to noon.

Denver Botanical Gardens, $75, $70 member.   


Care of Fresh Christmas Trees

Avoid a bristly fire hazard by New Years Eve with a little care for your Christmas tree. Be sure to make a fresh cut before you put it up, essential for water uptake. Fresh trees need lots of water, so check them daily. Keep them away from fireplaces and heat vents and if you love your tree, you’ll put a humidifier near it. You can mist it with water whenever you think of it and keep the room on the cool side.

If you have a lot of lights on your tree, keep them off when you are not actually enjoying them. Your tree will appreciate the break from the heat.

Indoor Gardening

The poinsettias are back. Long-lived, reasonably priced, and low maintenance, they definitely give you a lot of bang for the buck. Put in bright light and water when dry for best results.
Do poinsettias hold the same allure for you as Aunt Betty’s fruitcake? Then try cyclamen, my personal favorite. Keep them cool and lightly moist and they’ll bloom for months. Remember to remove the dying flowers at the base to accelerate new buds.


PomegranatesYes, they can take some time to process, you can buy them pre-seeded, though I prefer them fresh. Pomegranates are a true superfood full of antioxidants and a natural holiday garnish with their gorgeous ruby colors. Pick heavy, dark-colored fruit.

I love pomegranate on salads with goat cheese, roasted beets, and toasted pine nuts. The seeds pair well with pork tenderloin and ground lamb stuffed in eggplant. The juice is great in salad dressings and makes a great cocktail blended with vodka, champagne or prosecco, a squirt of lime, and a splash of seltzer.

You can extract the seeds by cutting the fruit in quarters and releasing them by pulling off the white membrane, thumbing out the seeds, or by holding the cut fruit over a bowl and hitting the outside skin with a wooden spoon. The juice stains, so keep that in mind.

Herb of the Month – Juniper

Juniper has been used since ancient times for its cleansing properties. Used to purify temples and protect from evil spirits, today the smoke from juniper branches is used in sweat lodges. It is said to cleanse the air of bad energy and make it easier to commune with our higher powers.

The berries are also highly aromatic and used in the production of gin. They have been used medicinally for indigestion and urinary problems.

Juniper berries are sold in high-end kitchen shops for seasoning hearty stews and game. I like to pick mine outside in the garden. Wait until the berries are dark blue and use with constraint, they can easily overpower a dish.


Juniper, Ginger, and Orange Peel Simple Syrup

Recipes of the Month

Here are some tasty treats for last-minute gift giving or just for you. They are all easy and inexpensive to make. Package with flair, we eat (and assess) with our eyes first.

Wishing you and yours a glorious holiday season.

Wishing you and yours a glorious holiday season.


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