Gifts From Wise Women

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Writing by Raisa Tolchinsky, Poet and Herbal Crafter

One of the best gifts I’ve ever received is a pair of used blue jeans. At this point, they have years of grass stains on the knees, holes everywhere, and a penchant for ripping at the pocket. They may not be pretty, but I call them my “lucky” pants because they are infused with the people and places I love. A beautiful, wise woman at a small shop on a side street in Italy gave them to me for free without any explanation as to why she was giving them away. They felt imbued with magic since the get-go, and this magic has only proven  true— while wearing them, I’ve climbed a mountain, I’ve gotten a job, I’ve kissed someone I loved. Repairing them has been a collective effort— my best friend from college has stayed up late, more than once, patching its holes with a pair of her old jeans (filled with its own stories).

I’m telling you about these pants because the best gifts, to me, have a story. Or at least, a potential for story: where they came from, what they are made of, who made them. Think the opposite of plastic objects, which you can dispose of quickly and which have no warmth or life.

Plastic or electronic objects aren’t reminders (like wood or copper or marble or glass) that things adapt or absorb or change over time. We keep them until the newest version is released, and then we replace.

We have a tendency to buy quickly and often. But there is a beauty in an object breaking or ripping, and caring enough to repair it. There is beauty  in how objects show the journeys they have been on, if we let them. We don’t abandon the people we love every time they are in a bad spot or they mess up, so we might as well treat our objects the same.

As a kid, I remember that so much of what I wanted for the holidays was made of plastic: PlayMobil, dolls, etc. But the gifts I still have from when I was little are all made of natural material: a wooden box carved by a teacher, stones from a friend’s journey to an ocean far away, paper made of plants from my great-uncle’s garden in Israel. These are the objects I refuse to let go of, that I carry with me to each new place I call home.

This holiday season, we at Brooklyn Herborium encourage buying gifts that are made of materials that are good for us and good for the planet (aka won’t sit in landfills). These objects will nourish us and the world around us over time.

Here is a little holiday gift guide for our loved ones (or for ourselves)!

  1. A yoga class at your local studio or a chemical-free holistic facial at our place
    Tis the season to over-do things, so give the gift (for yourself or someone you love) of self-care. We offer gift certificates for any amount.


  2. Art made by brilliant local Brooklyn Artist Krista Dragomer
    We carry her prints at our locations, or order directly from her site. We adore her earth positive explorations, plus she’s part of our herbal crafter team!
  3. A relaxing or exfoliating Soak or Scrub
    This beautiful bath soak (Soak Your Wild Oats) is healing for many skin ailments. Wonderful for small children, adults and daily use. Add two scoops to the bath or one to a foot bath. Ancient Secrets Body Scrub is made with Dead Sea Salt, Turmeric, Fair-trade Shea Butter, and a touch of pink grapefruit seed oil. It’s excellent for smoothing rough skin and eliminating body blemishes.

    Sow Your Wild Oats with scoop and oats on wood

    Ancient Secrets overhead

  4. West Wind Orchard Honey & Maple Syrup or Hand Crafted Vanilla Extract Organic bourbon-extracted vanilla using whole vanilla beans and Bulleit Bourbon. We make this lovely vanilla in our very own workshop in Brooklyn with ingredients from Madagascar and Kentucky (a killer combo).
  5. Wooden Instruments for preparing food – We prefer teak, olive wood and bambu. First, lessen your exposure to toxic plastics by keeping them away from heat and food (which is how they get into your food!) Non-reactive to acidity, won’t scratchy your pots, plus a pleasure to use and beautiful to look at. Wood lasts a long time with a little care. 
  6. Beloved books, such as
  7. Pure Beeswax Candles
    Slow burning, almost dripless, paraffin and toxin-free, clears the air AND smells like honey. They create an incredible atmosphere of comfort.
  8. Baby Moon Collection Five gentle products rooted in holistic methods to care for your baby’s needs. We use them for our tots too!

    Baby Moon Collectionjpg

  9. Between a Rock & a Hard Face: Shave, with Jojoba, Olive & Meadowfoam Shaving Oil for gentle and manly men. Conditions & protects skin from razor burn, while improving complexion. Incidentally, our guys use this as their beard oil as well since it’s the cold season and nobody wants to shave their whole face right now. 
  10. Edith Rose Cream Roses are symbolic of love and beauty. Emma made her first cream distilling roses from her father’s garden. He learned to grow them from his mother, Edith, who cultivated a garden and three children. Today, we use the hydro-distillation of traditionally grown Bulgarian Roses. We find that this gift is almost universally appreciated by mothers and mothers-in-law world wide.005_bklynherborium_.jpg

And to compliment your gifts, handmade watercolor gift tags by Aesthetician-in-training and herbal crafter Jen Jaffe (available at both locations). We love these little tags which are a gift in themselves.

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