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Archive for the ‘herbal’ Category

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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Today is simply a gorgeous day! The sun is strong, the winds mild and just a sprinkle of rain once in awhile. I did go out this morning and say hello to the world. Patted our maples, noted a darling pine sapling that must be relocated next summer. She is two now and strong enough to handle the move well. Also noted the things i can get a last harvest of and jotted down the things that would need divided and shared with others. I have to get back outside before tomorrow and “weed out” (not a phrase i am found of), a few more of our prolific violet friend. A couple of years ago i went around and transplanted violets all around our little pond and she loves it there! She keeps popping up anew and i might actually get a few more leaves of new growth to save and use. She reminded me of herself today while i was organizing the cabinets. There she was time and time again. In jellies in the food pantry, and in the medicinal cabinet as well. Not to mention she has been replicated through art in many of my everyday usage items like teacups etc. I wandered to the back of comfrey cottages gardens to say hello to the bees and to bring them a gift. I had a hive not make it last winter and i am certain it was due to them getting too wet in the fall,and not disease. i had saved back all their brood box frames that had honey in them. A good idea to always save back such honey as a rule, in case your bees need the honey fed back to them. I fed them back two of these frames today just for fun really. Oh, it will used by them, for certain, but i had fed them back the honey super that was just full of mostly uncapped nectar over the course of this last week, so i really don’t think they are light on winter foods. I did it just to share the joy of sunlight with them and to pay homage to them. I love my beautiful sunshine bees. They are in for another treat soon as i strained off some lemon balm honey and i have a plate of the strained balm and i am going to go out and share that with them when i am through with this post!

So, i suppose i should have been outside more today but i chose to open the windows wide and pull aside all the curtains and straighten my various cabinets before i got to work on a few things that needed done.

This is the cabinet i store mainly the dry herbs, roots etc.

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and in the bottom of it i store the kitchen appliances and tools like the sprouted. all the dried beans, grains, flours etc plus the seeds for sprouts

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this cabinet is mainly for the herbs and things i use for culinary reasons, foods as medicine reasons, smudging, and glycerites, vinegars, etc etc you get the idea

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that is my beekeeper suit hanging on the door there. plus lily’s little blue apron:)

to the left on the cat ledge, violet joy supervised. the milk jugs on the floor are kept refilled and the lid left off of them so the chlorine can evaporate. cats are healthier with dechlorinated water. we almost lost of kitty earl of eight a couple of times before i discovered that trick! now he is thriving and healthy.

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and the yellow cabinet. this has all the jars full of herbal oils and tinctures waiting to be used and to be stores in some of the containers you see. this cabinet has alot of containers and also where i keep the seeds i have collected for next year. i found this cool metal cabinet for a real deal at 10 dollars. the downside was the paint the peeps had on it just smelled foul, so hubby and i stripped it and he repainted it one of my favorite colors:)

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and david gould, my friend, if you will note the bag hanging to the left of the screen, it is the wonderful bakery bag you gave me last christmas. big hugs to you and liz:)

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now that i have taken the time to sort out from the helter skelter of summer, and organize, i can work more efficiently and know what just i do and don’t have on hand.  the whole experience was just grand with the sun shining through the windows, the breeze gently carrying the scent of the outdoors and our pine, and the whole aromatherapy experience of being immersed in dozens of herbal and spice smells at once… well i was just giddy i swear!

this is a picture of the lemon balm honey and the hops and honey straining.  i feel so empowered making lovely, healthy things for myself and my family and close friends. i am certain this hops infused honey will be a great treat and benefit for someone this winter with bronchitis. and the lemon balm will be a special joy on some wintery day when someone is feeling a bit blue or non vibrant. i am thinking it will be a great benefit to one who is in the process of recovering their strength from illness also.

the next cabinet has my microwave on top of it, but the drawers and cabinet is used for mainly my canning things. I am a bit ocd in always sterilizing every container, even when they are not going to be used specifically for canning foods.

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this taking time to organize and take stock has really helped me already, while in the process of doing it. i managed to strain off some honeys, catch an awesome herbal buzz through all my senses and feel some satisfaction with my learning process this year, as many of the herbs in the herbal cabinet and on the seed shelf are the results of my own gardening or wild harvesting this year. i love my wild harvest friends val and katee:)

my lovely val shared some pears with me last sunday. I have been eating a few but they were going soft quickly so decided to make a nice pear jelly which i infused with star anise, cinnamon, and tarragon. very nice! did the trick of replacing some of the juice and sugar in the recipe with honey again and really love the results:)

well i am off to check on the bees and offer them the strained lemon balm:) i have a friend stopping by at 6 to get some of my feverfew to try for her headaches. I am going to offer her a healing touch session as the same time so i must go rest up a bit too!

herbal and honey blessings and hugs to all who visit comfrey cottages. and please do share your pics of where you store your things sometime! i love to have visuals when i am sending blessings to you all:)

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the harvester

I have read this book yearly whenever i am in a sweet mood it seems. the harvester by gene stratton-porter is one of my most loved books. it should appeal to many of you. the central character david langston has spent his entire lfe in the medicine wood living and harvesting with the seasons, so lots of good herbie related passages throughout. while for those who like a little romance and beauty, which again speaks to all of us with the love of nature and sweet innocent love. david has spent his life studying and cultivating herbs and plants and sells them to hospitals in the hopes of lessening the pain in the world. he is a noble man and this is an inspiring book, with a many love stories, interspersing and freely vining throughout the story.  the spots where we folklore and fairy lovers will smile are in passages such as this

“the harvester broke from a tree a large fan-shaped fungus, the surface satin fine, the base mossy, and explained to the girl that these were the ballrooms of the woods, the floors on which the little people dance in the moon light at their great celebrations. the he added a piece of woolly dog moss, showing her how each separate spine was like a perfect little evergreen tree. that is spine where the fairies get their christmas pines, he explained.

do you honestly believe in fairies?

surely! who would tell me when the maples are dripping sap, and the mushrooms springing up, if the fairies didn’t whisper in the night?….”

here is a nice link about the author

so go out and find a copy of the harvester! i am sure it is reasonable at amazon and also through library loan systems. go on, i dare you not to fall in love with david langston also!lol

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this is rumbley checking it out,

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wisteria and earl were interested too…

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patrick star snagged a leaf to roll on….

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as did rose marie…

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but she was soon joined by dandelion, violet joy and earl….

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she tried to escape to the bed with it, but hyacinth bouquet followed her…

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then hyacinth went to check out violet joys leaf.

if you guessed catnip, you would be right!!lol the one really great thing about all the rains and cooler temps as i have been able to get numerous cuttings from some of the herbs! i adore using catnip for the children and myself and as you can see, it meets with the kitties approval also!!

big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit comfrey cottages!

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Yesterday was an exhausting day. My grandson Evan had a terrible injury happen. He was at his dad’s visiting and jumped off something in the yard and landed on some pipe and layed open his upper part of the front of his left leg. My daughter got a phone call saying he was being rushed to the emergency department in another town. So she came and got me. To make a long story short, this town was having a festival and a parade and the way we entered town we couldn’t get to the hospital. Even after explaining our dilemma to one of the police at the roadblock, he wouldn’t let us across. I mean, we could see the hospital, but with the thousands of people there, not even a place to just park and walk across through the parade. After finding a parking place about a mile away, we started walking through the crush of people. When I spied a parade official in a golf cart and rushed over and begged a ride from him. Thank heavens he did give us a lift and while Evan did have a deep wound, 15 stitches and a couple hours later, we did get to bring him home.

So today, my hubby and I went over to Iowa to a flea market, and I was so happy to just get away for awhile and pretty excited about a few finds.

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These beautiful decanters were a real find! I got all six for a measly $2.00! My hubby asked what I was going to do with them and I said, well maybe mead, maybe herbal vinegars, maybe elderberry wine….

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the two bigger jars I got for .50 each and the others were in a freebie pile. Now I don’t know about you, but I love to find jars, recycle jars, etc, etc. because there is ALWAYS some thing to put in a jar!

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Then I found a really cool herb book for $2. This one is entitled Hints and Pinches. A concise Compendium of Herbs, Spices, and Aromatics with Illustrative Recipes and Asides on Relishes, Chutneys, and Other Such Concerns by Eugene Walters. A very cool and fun herbie type book. Collecting herb books is a great passion so always thrilled to find a new one!

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Next find were some gorgeous hankies! I like to make tussie mussies with them!

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A cool vintage serrater and a tea strainer (can we ever have too many?), were the next finds for cheap!

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and while I don’t collect teddy bears, once in awhile one just calls out to me and says please give me a home. This little darling was honey colored, a handmade by a woman from my home area, and just $2, so I said sure sweet bear, I will take you home!lol

So … thinking about making meads, wines, herbal vinegars, tussie mussies, and filling jars with herbal goodness and feeling much more relaxed tonight!

Big herbal and honey hugs to all of you who visit Comfrey Cottages!

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Hopping for Joy About Hops!

Oh I do so love learning about new herbs! Learning about the benefits of hops has been an adventure and such a joy! I never knew a thing about hops, except it was used in beer. Seems this herb has quite a history of other uses. I will share some of what I have learned with you all. So far, I have  several bottles of hops steeping in vodka for tinctures, some bottles full of olive oil and hops for use as just the oil or for blending into beeswax for salves, and also some jars of hops and my honey.

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Identification was not hard with hops. And I found no “look alikes” to beware of. I am excited to work with this herb as I am mainly interested in working with herbs that are know as being generally safe. I will not going into detail about how to id the plant because if you are interested, that is something i am sure you all can figure out! I have been scouring my herbal books, online herbalist sites, etc . and of course, i always consult my mosby’s handbook of herbs and natural supplements, to be certain of any drug interactions. I suggest you do the same if you consider working with any herbs.

The tincture is going to be so helpful in so many ways. Insomnia (I have),  cramps or pain with  periods, (hops anti spasmodic qualities), anxiety or nervous tension (sedative qualities) , IBS, on a compress pad for varicose ulcers and other topical conditions (antiseptic qualities), and it has estrogenic action, which will help with all sorts of menopause related complaints. Also may be used as a gentle diuretic and for liver cleansing. These are just a few ways I have found to enjoy the qualities of hops as a tincture!

The hop infused honey was mentioned time and time again as excellent for bronchitis. Herbal honeys are a wonderful way to get the benefits of herbs into our children!

The hops infused oil will be used both as just the oil and infused into some of my beeswax to make salves. Hops has anti-rheumatic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that will make it very useful for several members of my family.

The next things I will do is make an infusion of agave syrup and hops, for my daughter, who is a diabetic. thinking of the bronchitis bit, (which she seems to get every winter). will have to maybe refrigerate this as i can’t seem to find any info on the preservation qualities of agave syrup, although, hops has been used as an ingredient to help preserve things. Will keep you posted on that. Agave syrup has a low glycemic index and she does well with it.

And of course, I am drying some for sleep pillows;)

Well, that is what has been so far with the hops!

Remember folks, this blog is for linda and I’s own personal journal of our herbal journey. Research and research some more on your own herbal journeys;)

Herbal and Honey hugs to all of you who take time to stop in for a visit!

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Had a simply lovely day! I went wildgathering with my friend valerie, specifically for elderberries. Val had found this lovely stand of them in a nice little spot, so off we went with pruners, scissors, a ladder, gathering basket etc. That was lovely and i will post about the berries soon but for now I want to invite my herbie friends to this hop! To explain further, I am so excited… we found a beautiful wild american hop growing up this tree!! I didn’t know there was anything like an american hop and was so excited. Being an insomnic, i had always read where pillows stuffed with hops were helpful for that condition, but, was very disappointed with the hops i had found at my herb store. Well, now i have a lovely basket full of fresh harvest hops and i am looking for ideas and inputs from all of you seasoned herbalist on how best to use this harvest. and if there are other things i should be doing with them. so…. the herbie hop to me would be a sort of mental dance of all our ideas!

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As you can see Patrick (on the left) and Wisteria (on the right) were quite interested in what i brought home! lol imagine that, a cat interested in a possible intoxicant!lol

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I have been reading where hops are very good for removing pain and inflammations. Also for neuralgic and rheumatic pain, so thinking maybe to oil infuse some for salve making. I am wondering about tincturing some for a time when its sedative properties would be useful. And of course, thinking of the soothing dream pillows. Since this is my first time working with this herb any advice will be welcome. Especially since there is more where these came from and I can try several different things! So lay it on me herbies! What would you do with this lovely herb?

Big herbal and sticky honey hugs to all of you who visit Comfrey Cottages!! 🙂

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Daily Harvesting of Something!

most evenings find me spreading herbs to dry on screens and in baskets, or freezing them in single layers to add to bags in the freezer. seems no matter what, each day has at least a few things to harvest! i am garden space challenged here at comfrey cottage. there isn’t alot of spots that are very sunny so i can’t put in as many veggies and fruits as i would like. but, between what spots there are, and the patio pots almost daily there is something to harvest! i also take daily walks with the children and harvest from some of the neighbors yards (with permission) for additional things. todays harvest was bountiful (on my modest small scale). here is a sampling in this pic. i have these darling fairy eggplants, yellow tomatoes, romas, parsley, yarrow, orange and chocolate mint, lemon verbena, chamomile,echinacea blossoms, and calendula all from my yard today. the walnuts are from a tree at one of our rentals. some of the hibiscus flowers are from my father in laws and some from my bushes. i just gather from wherever i can!

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i have screens and baskets throughout my little den and kitchen.

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even though earl (the black striped kitty) and rumbley, have both taken over two of my best baskets! now how is that for a table centerpiece?!

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there are jars of comfrey oil, yarrow  tincture and st. john’s wort oil all steeping along on top of the herbal medicine cabinet

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and the honey bucket, which still has a basket of wax draining in it, does double duty by hosting a plate of cucumbers waiting to be dealt with!

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my brother has a friend who likes to garden, but can’t eat it all, so i get some extra things from him. gosh, i have bags and counters of these big whopping cukes staring at me!

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luckily, for those who aren’t on facebook and didn’t see this link before, i found a good site with tons of cuke recipes. these are mostly too big for pickling, so did a web search and found tons of cool recipes at that site! i think some of them can be used for bread and butter pickles though.

now if there were just more hours in the day….

big herbal hugs to all who visit comfrey cottages!

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i had to hold this jar of st johns wort oil up to the light to show you its wonderful red color! for the first few days it really just looked a kind of ugly darkish color, but i have had this jar sitting out to absorb the sun and moonlight for about a week now, and suddenly, beautiful red! st johns wort oil has a place in the home medicine chest, being useful topically for bruises, strains, srapes, nerve pain and burns, soothing repairing damage. very easy to make. the fresh flowers and some of the plant leaf and stem is just cut up and put in the jar and then filled with olive oil. i just shake mine daily and it just sits out in the garden gathering the sun and moon energy! drying some also as it is a special helper for menopausal women like me. here is a lovely recipe for a tea
2 parts lemon balm
2 parts chamomile
1 part St. Johnswort
1 part red rose petals
i will probably use some of this oil in salves with my home harvested beeswax also!
hugs to all who visit comfrey cottages

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awwww my sweet melissa officinalis! harvested some this week and steeped 1 part of the lemon balm to 3 parts boiling water. this infusion can be strained and used for lovely teas, jellies, sorbets and other lovely things. i am just going to freeze some to use as i have the time and the inclination for using it in jellies. making lemon balm popsicle for those times when the kids are wild. lemon balm/melissa is a wonderful calming herb. humming the allman brothers song melissa all the while working with this lovely herb

raspberries are ripening daily now! washing, and then freezing them on trays to be put in bags in freezer to use later too. freezing them on the trays first keeps them from all sticking in a big clump in freezer bags. makes it convenient also, to just reach in the bag and take a handful as needed to add to fruit salads, etc. have the prince song raspberry beret flowing through my mind while harvest these berries!lol

checked the hives and found they are both ready for new honey supers. put one on the yellow hive and cobbling together the frames for the new one for the pink hive (the newest bees). the yellow hive had all their honey frames mostly capped. lovely white wax there! the pink hive honey super still hadn’t finished capping their honey is why i chose to go ahead and put the prepared new box on the yellow hive. figured i still had a day or two to finish putting together this other box for the pink hive.

peeking down in between the frames i pull out i can usually get a good idea how many frames are already capped and if they are ready for a new super.

so what are you doing in your gardens dear friends? big hugs to all who visit comfrey cottages

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