About Irene

Irene Wolansky is the Customer Experience Director at Mountain Rose Herbs. Born and raised on the Oregon coast, her interests include crafting body care products and herbal medicine, harvesting mushrooms, gardening, brewing herbal mead, fermentation, and exploring wild areas.
  • Spring Recipes: Stinging Nettle Harvest

Spring Recipes: Stinging Nettle Harvest

    Nettle (Urtica spp.) is one of my all-time favorite herbs. Yep, that weedy plant that stings! This nutritious botanical can be cooked, steamed, baked, pickled, brewed into tea or beer, and it can even be made into hemp-like rope, woven into fabric, and used as a natural dye. Stinging nettle grows wild throughout North America. They usually grow in the same places every year, so once you find a good stand, you can return to it every year or grow it in your garden.  Look for nettles in rich soil and partially shaded areas, often in moist forests, along rivers, and in disturbed areas. It’s important to harvest the plants from clean and unpolluted areas, not in industrial or agricultural areas, roadsides, or where pesticides have been sprayed. The plants […]
  • Learn to make your own soap!

DIY: Herbal Soap Making From Scratch

                  Handcrafting soap from scratch is a mesmerizing and enchanting process.  Watching the transformation of oil and water makes you feel like a scientist, chemist, alchemist, or perhaps an herbal magician.  There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of lathering up with a luscious bar of your own homemade soap, and I’m beyond excited to share this DIY skill with you! After bathing with your homemade soap, you’ll be hooked.  Industrial soap companies remove the glycerin from soap in order to produce bars that are firmer and longer lasting.  Glycerin occurs naturally during the soap making process, providing a moisturizing quality to soap. Since handmade soap retains glycerin, it is gentler and more moisturizing to the skin than conventional store-bought soaps.  This is also why handcrafted […]

Herbal Laundry Formulas: Part 2

Find Part 1 here!      Herbal Dryer Sachets Conventional dryer sheets contain synthetic fragrances, chemicals, and known carcinogens and neurotoxins.  These unnatural substances have been linked to disorders of the brain and nervous system, as well as headaches, nausea, dizziness, depression, loss of muscle coordination, fatigue, drowsiness, and even cancer of the pancreas.  Plus, they’re unrecyclable and end up in landfills.  Consider ditching the toxic dryer sheets and using homemade herbal dryer sachets instead! Homemade herbal dryer sachets can be used in exactly the same manner as commercial varieties, but don’t contain the synthetic chemicals or artificial fragrances.  Besides making your laundry smell wonderful, they are reusable, and completely natural.  Best of all, this recipe is highly customizable, allowing you to add whatever herbs and essential oils you […]

Herbal Laundry Formulas: Part 1

                        When I was young, my mom always hung our laundry outside to dry. I adored the way that they smelled afterwards, infused by the enchanting aromas of lush green grass, fragrant flowers, tall evergreen trees, clean country air, and warm sunlight. I treasured drifting off to sleep amidst bed sheets permeated with these sweet scents and loved the way that the freshly laundered clothing smelled against my skin.  One afternoon, my mom found me pinning all of my stuffed animals and dolls on the clothes wire and snapped this photograph. When she asked me what I was doing, I told her that I was hanging them up so that they would smell like […]
  • Make Your Own Kombucha Part 2 by Mountain Rose Herbs

Brew Your Own Kombucha: Part 2

How to flavor your kombucha! Start here if you missed Part 1! The combinations of herbs, spices, fruits, and juices that can add flavor to your kombucha are almost endless.  Here are some of my favorite blends, but feel free to be creative and add whatever flavors you enjoy!   Elderberry, Rosehip, & Cinnamon A standby, this is the blend that I make most often. Sometimes, I’ll add Hibiscus flowers or use Ginger root instead of Cinnamon.  Feel free to experiment and make this recipe your own! 1/3 cup organic dried elderberries 1/4 cup organic dried rosehips 1 tsp organic cinnamon chips   Sparkling Ginger Pear This recipe is simple, yet delicious.   Is it light, refreshing, and reminiscent of champagne.  Use whichever fruit is in season: raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, apricots, and peaches are […]

Brew Your Own Kombucha: Part 1

  If you’ve never tried kombucha, then you’re in for a treat!  This delightful fermented beverage is revered for its probiotic qualities and many purported health benefits.  With a unique flavor, it is fizzy and tingly like no other beverage in existence. Fermenting foods and beverages at home was a common necessity for centuries.  Thankfully, we’re now seeing a return to these roots!  Healthful traditional foods and fermented preparations are making a comeback and have become somewhat trendy in recent years.  Kombucha can now be easily purchased in health food markets nationwide, but most of it is pasteurized and the cost is often restrictive.  Fortunately, it’s easy, inexpensive, and fun to make at home!  Plus, you can adjust the flavor and sourness to your liking. Like other […]

Mama & Baby’s Massage Oil

Selecting the best products and ingredients for skincare can be daunting, and baby’s skin is even more delicate and sensitive than our own.  The lists of ingredients on baby care products are often a mile-long and contain hard-to-read and unrecognizable ingredient names.  Many commercial baby care products even include toxic ingredients that have been linked to allergies, cancer, developmental problems, and organ dysfunction, in addition to many other harmful side effects. No thanks! This soothing and gentle massage oil is perfect for nurturing mama’s and baby’s sensitive skin.  Apply after bathing for massages, cradle cap, or anytime that skin feels dry.  You can also pour a small amount into bathwater for a luxurious pampering bath. Organic Sunflower or Sweet Almond Oil 2 parts Organic Lavender flowers 2 parts […]

Essential Recipes for Late Summer

  These are some of my very favorite tried-and-true recipes for the summertime.  Essentials for the home medicine chest, these simple remedies come in so handy during the warm summer months.     Herbal Relief Oil This botanical-infused goodness soothes and helps occasional aching muscles, sprains, and bruises. 2 oz Calendula flower herbal oil 1 oz St. John’s Wort herbal oil 1 oz Arnica herbal oil 10-15 drops organic Lavender essential oil (optional) Pour all ingredients into a 4 oz glass bottle and roll between palms to distribute the oils evenly. Massage into sore and tender muscles as needed. If you'd like to make your own herbal infused oils, you can learn how to make them in this blog post:     Herbal Cooling Mist Apply this mist on sunburns or whenever in need of a little cooling off. […]

Measuring in Parts (with Recipes)

One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is the opportunity to share recipes with others.  Making herbal medicine and natural products can be overwhelming at first, and I love showing people just how easy it can be! Measuring in parts is a perfect example of how simple and forgiving herbal recipes are.  Often referred to as the “simpler’s method”, the beauty of measuring in parts is that the formula can be easily scaled up or down, and you can use almost any utensil as a measuring device. In addition to measuring cups, teaspoons, and tablespoons, you can improvise with shot glasses, Mason jars, yogurt containers, your favorite tea mug… you get the idea!  The most important thing is being consistent with your measurements […]

Herb Infused Witch Hazel

This recipe is such a convenient preparation which either can be used alone or incorporated into cosmetic and medicinal recipes.  And, it couldn’t be simpler to make! Witch Hazel extract is produced from the leaves and bark of the North American shrub Witch-hazel, Hamamelis virginiana. It has astringent, antimicrobial, and anesthetic properties, making it an invaluable ingredient for many different medicinal and cosmetic preparations. I especially love using herbal infused witch hazel as a facial toner, often incorporate it into facial wash recipes, and a small dab works great on blemishes.  Beneficial for all skin types from oily to dry and mature skin, Witch Hazel is often used as an aftershave, to cleanse oils from the skin, remove make-up, decrease bags under eyes and skin puffiness, reduce […]

Dandelion Fritters

Dandelion Flower Fritters Spring is such a magical time!  Plants which lay dormant throughout the winter become alive again with fresh and vigorous energy, actively emerging up through the earth, pushing out fresh new shoots, proudly displaying vibrant tender tips, and bursting into colorful blossoms. Dandelion flowers are one of my favorite springtime herbals.  Not only are fritters a perfect way to use Dandelions before they burst into seed, but their mild and slightly bitter flavor is dangerously addictive! Ingredients –  Dandelion flower tops (Taraxacum officinale) –  1 organic and free-range egg –  1 cup organic milk –  1 cup organic flour (Brown Rice flour can be used for a gluten-free alternative) –  Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil How to: Gather Dandelion tops during the day, when the sunshine has opened up the bright […]

Springtime Formulas

Spring is the classic time for deep-cleaning your home, but it is also a perfect time to cleanse and nurture the body.  These herbals gently cleanse, nourish, and are perfect for providing energy and warmth after the cold, winter months and before the busy summer months begin.   Nourishing Infusion                 These nourishing herbs provide essential vitamins and minerals, are so nourishing, taste delicious, and give a nice caffeine-free energy boost.  Perfect as an afternoon “pick-me-up” or when the body feels run down or in need of nourishment. Nettle leaf Oats, milky tops or oat straw Red Clover herb or blossoms Use one of the above herbs, or a combination.  Simply place a handful of dried herbs in a glass quart jar, pour boiling water over them, cap the jar, and then let the […]