When folks show up at Kathy Mihalczo’s kitchen, they can’t help but feel welcomed. There’s always a pot of tea or cider ready to share. The air is filled with a light fragrance, and something is in the works. For Christmas, she’s been mixing up homemade bath and body treats as well as assembling fragrant herb decorations. Her kitchen full of natural light is one of the newer additions to 18-year-old Erin’s Meadow Herb Farm in rural Anderson County, Tennessee.
“Nature is a great inspiration for the holidays,” shared Mihalczo, “…just look for the beauty outside and bring it into your home.” She says her favorite holiday herbs are rosemary, thyme, lavender and sage, all of which can become part of a mantel decoration, centerpiece or place setting. The farm offers plants for anyone wanting to expand their garden. But for this season, the herb farmer offers simple advice, “just go into the garden and cut what you have.” She uses wet floral foam to keep freshly cut wreaths looking good for at least two weeks. Want something really hardy and versatile? “Probably the queen of your Christmas herbs is your rosemary,” said Mihalczo. She recently hosted an Herbs of the Bible class that shared traditional significance of herbs that have been around for centuries.
Visitors to Erin’s Meadow Herb Farm arrive full of questions about using herbs in teas, for cooking and for other uses around the home. They get personalized information whether a beginner making a wreath or a seasoned herbalist trying a new tincture. No matter the project, there’s often a natural ingredient from the garden available for it. Mihalczo calls herbs “Mother Nature’s air freshener!”
If you receive potted herbs as gifts this season, Mihalzco reminds you to give them plenty of light and let them reside on your porch, as most herbs in the South like cool temperatures. You can plant them in the ground by early spring.
A farm favorite is a mix that even the beginning herbalist can easily create. The recipe shared here with permission from Erin’s Meadow Herb Farm is called:
Erin’s Soothing, De-Stressing Herbal Bath Blend
1/4 Cup Dried Rose Petals
1/4 Cup Dried Lavender Flowers
1/4 Cup Dried Chamomile Flowers
1/4 Cup Dried Calendula Flowers
1/4 Cup Whole Oats
Mix all ingredients together, store in an air tight container. To use place 1/4 cup of mixture into a cloth bath bag. Toss into warm bath, and enjoy!