Archive for the ‘book recommendation’ Category

LeClaire is also the home of the now famous antique shop, Antique Archeology, made famous by the History Channel’s television series, American Pickers. We enjoyed exploring the shop and it was a pleasure to meet Danielle. She is just a sweetheart, who happily autographed publicity handouts, the shop provided.

After exploring LeClaire, we travelled on up the River Road and explored a bit in a few more towns, briefly, on the Iowa side of the river. One of the towns was Clinton and I would like to go there in the spring to visit the Bickelhaupt Arboretum located there. Then it was time to cross back over the river, which was frozen over from to shore to shore ,on a different bridge, and head home.


Imagine my delight when we got to the Illinois side of the river and found ourselves in the town of Fulton, Illinois. It was late in the day when we were there, so we just had time to locate and look through a couple of the antique shops and discover that this is a richly historical town also. One we would like to explore more thoroughly on another day trip. I really want to go there during the first weekend in May, when the town celebrates its rich Dutch heritage with the Dutch Days Festival. This is a picture of the working grist mill that was closed for the day. Another reason to come back as I have a thing for historic grist mills:) This one has a nice museum associated with it.


I found a very interesting book also. I will love reading about Susan La Flesche, the youngest daughter of an Omaha Indian Chief, who felt the call to medicine. About Bethenia Owens Adair, who traded in laundry work for a successful medical practice. And dozens of other women who lived and treated patients in the frontier-era West.


Speaking of that era, we saw the loveliest cupboard in one of the shops. It was reputed to have been crafted around 1800 and to have travelled, over the Atlantic Ocean, with an European immigrant. What a history associated with this piece! I can well imagine it being many women’s prized possession, through the ages.


Thank you for visiting Comfrey Cottages xx

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All About Thyme

Just thought I might share this in case some of you are unfamiliar with Susan Wittig Albert’s newsletter All About Thyme. It is free and gets delivered weekly right to your inbox:) Susan is the author of many of my favorite books including The China Bayles mystery series, The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, and a wonderful series of Victorian/Edwardian tales she and her husband wrote under the pen name of Robin Page. Here is a link for the mystery partners page. It is a joy to just explore all the links here! Where else can you enjoy a tea party with either China Bayles and friends, or Beatrix Potter and her friends? LOL  Make sure and sign up for her e-letter if you haven’t already. And the Book of Days is just a must and great fun to read each days entry throughout the year! Have any of you started reading her new series the Darling Dahlia’s yet? You can also register your book reading club with Susan and get the benefits of having her suggest questions and other ideas as your group reads each book. Also, your club will be eligible for free book drawings, book marks, recipes, herbal hints and other goodies sent out for you to distribute to your group. Comfrey Cottage reading club is registered!


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One of my facebook friends, Plantain Patch, shared this wonderful video. Doug Elliott shows us how to use Tulip Poplar,Liriodendron tulipifera, to make our own baskets! Now if you are unfamiliar with Doug Elliott, I highly recommend his books. They are just a joy to read! He is down to earth and full of useful and fun information on a huge variety of natural subjects. The book he wrote, Wildwood Wisdom is one of my all time favorites.

When Plantain shared about these baskets, I was immediately interested. You might remember I shared earlier this year about this trees medicinal uses. We have a huge one overhanging our yard, and this year I have found a couple saplings started from it. Making these baskets don’t look hard at all and when my saplings are bigger I am going to give it a go. Who knows, I might find a sapling to use soon during one of my woods rambles:) Will share about it when I do get to make my own baskets. Enjoy the video!

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I love to read. I just had to share with you all about the novel Anthill by Edward O. Wilson. This book should especially appeal to anyone who loves nature, is interested in ecology preservation, and loved a fine story with an admirable lead character:) An inspirational story of how a boy, in love with local beautiful wildlife spot, explores and learns natures secrets and determines to follow a career path that will help him save it from the most savage ecological predator: man himself. Now if that mini review hasn’t convinced you to read the book.. consider this line…
“They were obedient to a simple truth that separates our two species: where humans send their young men to war, ants send their old ladies.”
Food for thought, don’t you agree.
The author, E. O. Wilson is such an interesting person. You might enjoy checking out his Biodiversity Foundation.

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tulip tree

My neighbors have a huge tulip tree which overhangs Comfrey Cottages on the north. It’s flowers are so absolutely gorgeous! The bees have been very busy gathering nectar from it and I can hear them buzzing happily high up in its branches. I have always appreciated this trees for the shade it provides and its nectar and pollen it provides the bees. The squirrels are eating the mature buds also, with apparent relish. Well I decided to research and find out whether this tree might have edible or medicinal qualities, that we could benefit from also. What I found was most interesting indeed! While I can find no references to eating the Tulip Tree, in any form, Henrietta’s Herbal had a couple pages chock full of historical references to it’s usage as medicine. It seems that it has been basically ignored in years though. I think that I will explore some of the medicinal uses listed this year since I have a very keen interest in using the trees and plants that are easily available in my area. Luckily I have some Amish friends that harvest trees, so I can ask them to share some of the inner bark of the root the next time they cut one. I will share about it whenever I get a chance to work with it. Of course, I don’t intend to do anything but enjoy the blessings of the tree overhanging our gardens here:)

One of the pages Henrietta has is information from John Scudder on this tree.


“The bark of Liriodendron tulipifera.—U. S.

Preparation.—Tincture of Liriodendron.

Dose.—From five drops to one drachm.

Therapeutic Action.—The bark of the Tulip Tree is tonic, stimulant, diaphoretic, diuretic, anthelmintic, aromatic, stomachic. It may be used in all cases of anorexia and impaired states of the digestive organs, where a stimulant tonic is indicated. It promotes the appetite and facilitates digestion; for these purposes it will be found fully equal to the simple bitters. It is often used with some advantage in intermittents.

It is employed in gout and chronic rheumatism, and in the declining stages of the acute form, after the irritated action has subsided, as a stimulating diaphoretic and tonic. If administered freely in the form of a warm infusion, it evinces conspicuous diaphoretic properties; and not unfrequently its diuretic powers are equally manifest.

The American Eclectic Materia Medica and Therapeutics, 1898, was written by John M. Scudder, M.D.”

Very interesting, right? lol



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This was our five generation picture taken when my mom and her mom were both still alive and my first born grandchild, Evan, was a wee one, about 8 years ago. We lost my mom to cancer 4 years ago today, and G.G., as my vain grandma liked to be called (lol), the very next spring. That is my beautiful, and only, daughter Michelle Elizabeth holding her son.

My mom would have just loved all the natural healing and herbal knowledge I have been learning these last few years. The family used to tease her as she read her wisdom garnered from sources such as Prevention magazine, and others. I always listened to her though, (in those matters;-) ) , and always had a bent toward our natural world. If she were here today I can see us truly finding our common ground, besides family, with herbal/plant medicine and also with the foraging for wild foods, that I doing more and more. Well, mom this post is for you, in honor of the strong, warm, loving, giving person you were. I miss you so much!

I read herbal and wild foraging books constantly and even my dreams have me walking through woods and fields searching for the knowledge I am sure other women in my family had at some time. Some how it was lost a few generations back and I crave to recapture it, to share with all those following in my footsteps. Life is busy with so many things, so finding the time to apply what I have been learning is sometimes hard. I am trying to make it a point to do a few things every week.


Tonight, after getting home, I went out in the gardens and gathered some whole plants of violets. Roots, leaves and flowers for a tincture. I am going to use the tincture, at times, for fevers, to break up mucous and respiratory complaints. The pretty yellow jar is dandelion flowers in safflower oil. I have some infusing in olive oil and thought some in safflower oil would be pretty and useful also. These both will make nice moisturizers and massage oils, that help release tension and emotions in the muscles. I also started some plantain tincture. This tincture will be good for gastric complaints, ulcers, and also for diarrhea. It will also be soothing for any complaints throughout the urinary system. As plantain is a relaxing antispasmodic to the mucous membranes, coughs, asthma, and other bronchial problems, are another way this tincture will be used.

Last week I managed to sneak in a few medicine making moments also.


I made angelica root tincture and honey. Licorice tincture, concolor fir oil, dandelion vinegar, and peppermint oil.

Mom would just love all this and I think of her often as I learn more and more about our natural world and her gifts to us. We just need open our eyes and our hearts to what she has to tell us!


I have found this book by herbalist Gail Faith Edwards, to be most helpful in my herbal journeys. I love what Gail has to say in her forward

These words are the ripened seeds that spill from my wild heart to the dark moist soil within your own.”

I highly recommend this book to those of my readers who are on their own herbal journey. Gail writes with a warm, welcoming style that encourages me with its insightful, yet non complicated information and uses of many herbals and trees. I have found this book to be another that is right here in the kitchen while I make herbal medicine, on my bedside table at night, and in my backpack at all other times. Gail has shared with us what it took her many seasons of intimate contact with the plants, to learn.  And yes, I do especially recommend it to those of you, who like me are at the beginning of our herbal journeys, although it is certain to be of benefit to the experienced herbalist also.

big herbal and honey hugs to all of you who take the time to visit here at Comfrey Cottages


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I want to share with you all a wonderful herb book that has found a place in my kitchen, where I keep the ones I refer to the most often. It is called Herbology At Home and it was written by Anke Bialas, of Brisbane, Australia. Anke’s herbal web community, Herbology, is wonderful and I like what she has to say about it.

“Herbology is an online information site dedicated to raising herb awareness with an emphasis on reviving old, once common, herb lore to enable readers to make their own basic herbal products and herbal remedies. Herbology provides inspiring, educational, high quality information in a virtual space. It delivers informative, entertaining reviews, feature articles and resources.

The Herbology goal is to create an environment where traditional herb lore which used to be passed on within families from generation to generation can be revived and shared in a virtual setting.”

I very much enjoy this free herbal community and suggest you all check it out! I was very fortunate and won a contest Anke was holding for a copy of her book and I wanted to tell you all about it!

The whole title is Herbology At Home Making Herbal Remedies. Anke says that she considers herbology an amateur interest whereas herbalism is a professional pursuit. I was glad to hear someone else make the same differention as I do! I always consider myself an herbologist, one who studies herbs and no way would I be ready to consider myself an herbalist, if ever! But as Anke says, just because we consider herbology for amateurs does not mean it is any less effective or important! What Anke does say it represents is a continuation of an ancient tradition whereby herb lore is practiced by everyday people in everyday situations! Now that was truly speaking to me folks! Anke’s aim is to help guide everyone in taking back our heritage of herbal medicine and passing it on to future generations!

The book is very well written and easy to read with clear instruction for making internal and external remedies. There are sections on infused oils, creams, first aid, children, tinctures, food as medicine and many others! Each is very helpful ready reference when you are making your own remedies at home! What I consider very useful is the fact I finally have a book in my home library that is so easy, and fast to use. Let’s just say you have gathered some St. John’s Wort and you can’t remember right away how to infuse it in oil or fresh tincture it, just grab this book and you can immediately find the sections of the book to help! A ready reference with sound advice right at my fingertips! I am in love! Thank you so much for all you do and share Anke:)

Anke’s blog is just great and I just love all she shares there also:)
She has shared wonderful herb videos here
and growing herb videos here

Big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages and get your copy of Herbology At Home today!

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