Sunday, January 30, 2011
Danielle, of The Teacup Chronicles, suggested to relieve the tedium of January, that we might like to make an inspiration board. I thought it was a lovely idea to make a spot for plans, dream and inspirations, so I follow suit today. I have my list of seeds to order, vinegar ideas to make soon, herbal remedy recipe to make, pictures and memorabilia from friends and little sayings, amongst other things on my board so far.
“There are souls in this world which have the gift of finding joy everywhere and of leaving it behind them when they go” Frederick William Faber. (I strive to be that sort of person.)
“This whole life of man is but a point of time; let us enjoy it.” Plutarch
“There is no satisfaction that can compare with looking back across the years and finding you’ve grown in self-control, judgment, generosity and unselfishness.” Ella Wheeler Wilcox
I put my board on one of the apothecary cabinets sides, facing where I work at my table and computer. Right next to my five generation picture. My maternal grandmother, my mother, my only daughter, her only daughter and myself. My ancestors, my present and my future inspirations all together makes for a powerful influential corner on my life. I am going to enjoy fulfilling dreams and aspirations with the help of this inspiration board! I will take things down as I do them, add new things as I visualize my dreams and aspirations.xx
Today I had several extract tinctures ready to be decanted. I would be using several of them to make the Digestive Distress formula, Others were just ones I was low on or additions for the herbal medicine first aid kit.
I managed to get a few other things done today, including a few herbal vinegars, other tinctures, and a few herbal oils started. You might notice that I decided to go with the 1/2 ounce bottles for the first aid kit. Things were a bit crowded with the 1 ounces. I will just have to be vigilant to refill things from the home apothecary, as I use them from the kit.
I have exciting news! Remember when I went to my friend Jill Reed’s house and she taught me to make soap for the first time ever? Well, when we picked her up for our beekeeping meeting this week, she shared some of the soap!
Feels, looks, smells and suds just lovely and I am so chuffed to have finally done this! Thanks again Jill!
Now Marci , of Herbal Nature, has been putting together the loveliest, instructional blog posts on soap making for the last couple of weeks. I have learned so very much and am gathering my supplies to start making soap at Comfrey Cottages. Marci and her hubby are wanting to start bees and I am wanting to make soap, so we are exchanging books via the mail. This is so much fun folks! I highly suggest doing this book swap with a friend. Helps you get further along quicker in a subject, than if you were gathering all the books yourself first:) Thanks Marci for all the great posts and for being my book swap buddy! xx
Been enjoying the grandchildren this week. Dylan built his first train track (all by himself), Evan and Lily and I visited our new store that has an old fashioned soda fountain part to it, and we also spent an evening playing Cat-o-poly, which is like Monopoly, only we play for cats, not properties with this game:)
Herbal Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Lucia Ferrara Bettler is the owner of Lucia’s Garden, in Houston, Texas. I would love to live near her shop, as she works with many healers with different specialties, and hosts many workshops and events. She is past president of the International Herb Association.
Lucia had taken a Bible Tour of the countries shown in the map on the screen above her in the pictures, and shared with us many things. I had studied herbs of the bible before, but still very much enjoyed her thoughts and shares. She talked about how herbs were very much a part of Biblical cultures. They were used in the practices of religious ceremony, food and medicine. For instance, Hyssop was used for purification rites from the first Passover, to ritual purifications. Bitter herbs were talked about and she explained the bitterness is not directly associated with our notion of bitter, but rather referring to the strong flavor of the herbs. Herbs such as Parsley, rue, dandelion, chives, chicory and others. She talked about the foods mentioned in the bible: fish, beans, honey, melons, milk, yogurt and nuts.
This is one of the recipes she shared.
1 cup honey
1/2 cup melted butter , or almond oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
4 cups whole wheat flour
Cream together the butter (or oil) and honey. Add the milk and eggs and stir. Sift flour, cinnamon and salt and add slowly to the creamed mixture, alternating with the milk. Pour into two oiled 9 inch cake pans and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 35 minutes
I really enjoy having her handout of the presentation and am certain to refer to it again. Another great presenter I feel lucky to have heard!
Herbal and Honey Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx
Friday, January 28, 2011
Terry Hollembaek, of Nancy’s Meadow Herbs, gave a wonderful presentation, on his thoughts about sustainability.
Terry suggested to feed the organisms that live in the soil, not the plants. He advocated for keeping a deep layer of fluffy straw on your garden beds, never allowing the soil to be exposed to the radiation from the sun. He says not to dig, plow or till your soil. He believes composting in the usual manner is a waste of time, and that we should just throw our compost offerings on the beds themselves, tucking them under the straw, if we think it is too unsightly on top. Terry also advised us to just let our weeds and grasses grow amongst our plantings, as they are a valuable habitat for predator insects, which will feed on our damaging types. He sighted studies where it had been shown that there was 60% less bug damage to crops in a garden where the weeds had been allowed to grow around it. Terry said we could just tuck the whole plant under the straw to compost when it was in the way, or before it sets seed.
Terry was an engaging and knowledgeable speaker, who presented a convincing case for his sustainability thoughts. He went into great detail about how microbes, fungi, worms and other soil dwellers did their own job of composting our offerings. He also shared many examples and tidbits along the way. He shared that to further enhance and encourage decomposition of bones and egg shells, for the garden, to first soak them in vinegar for awhile:) This is sustainable for us now that we have constant batches of vinegar brewing both at Eric’s home and mine. Comfrey Cottages 1 and Too (2) lol! He also threw out there, that in India, it is a government law that any trees planted in its cities, must be a fruit bearing tree! How cool is that? Wouldn’t that be lovely to be able to walk around town, in the right season, and just pick a fresh fruit if you desired?
Seed germination, was another subject he talked about. We have all seen directions for, or tried ourselves, cold stratification by using the refrigerator. Terry said he had great success just doing fall or very, very early spring plantings of seeds like chervil, dill, cilantro, and dandelions. He expressed thoughts I had before, that the refrigerator just doesn’t completely mimic natures freezes and thaws.
Terry also spoke of the 10 Rules of Landscaping. Saying you can never have too much variety, suggesting lots of places to sit, plant close together and other bits:)
He spoke about natural farming in Korea, and Janong Farms. I loved this part of his presentation and the site is well worth a look through:)
One Straw Revolution, by Masnobu Fukeota, is a book, Terry recommended highly. He told us the story of Masnobu and how he changed his family farm around from traditional farming methods to totally sustainable and organic methods. The website is another one to thoroughly enjoy, with a nice video.
Ruth Stout, was another writer Terry spoke about. Her No Work Gardening book was highly recommended. Ruth is the “Mulch Queen”!
So if you see an event with Terry as one of the speakers, I suggest you go to it!
Terry’s wife gave a presentation on micro greens, that we had to miss. Poor Eric had been at work daily for three weeks and we just had to go get him laid down in our hotel room!
Herbal and Honey Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx
Thursday, January 27, 2011
One of the presenters at the Herb Day event, was Dianne Noland. Her presentation was on floral design and how to make hand-tied bouquets and vase arrangements. The only herb I saw were a couple of bay leaves… but she did provide many tips and had an unusual way of working her designs…
Thank you for visiting Comfrey Cottages xx
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
The third Saturday in January, is the time for the yearly Herb Day, hosted by the University of Illinois, Urbana – Champaign. The event is held at the Holiday Inn and Conference Center, in the city of Urbana. Eric and I went for the first time, two years ago, enjoyed ourselves, immensely, planned on going last year, but the weather conspired against us. I was so disappointed as Susan Hess was scheduled to be one of the speakers! Well, this year, when Eric and I started making plans to go, he offered to treat us to overnight accommodations, which I readily accepted! It takes us two hours to drive there, so after leaving our home at 5:30 AM and attending the conference until 4:00, it was going to be a treat not to drive home in the cold and dark, like we did last time. Besides, Eric’s best buddies from college, Jackie and Brad, live close to Urbana and it would give us a chance to visit longer with them:)
There is a nice vendors room and we went there first, after checking in to the event, and getting our name tags and notebooks with the schedule of events and flyers about each presenter. These notebooks are just chocked full of recipes, information and nicely done pieces about each speakers speech. So we have 45 minutes. Let’s go stroll through the vendors area.
One of my favorite vendors Is Carolee Snyder and Chris Ferguson of Carolee’s Herb Farm. Eric and I have this farm on our list of places to visit:) We both got one of these gorgeous t-shirts, Carolee designed.
Farmbrook Designs were another vendor. Made me resolve to try my hand at the art form of hypertufa this year. There were such lovely pieces!
There was a total of 15 vendors, and something for everyone:) From beautiful art work, to plants and seeds, tools for gardening, sheep poo fertilizer, books, lotions and potions and more!
I will be telling you more about Herb Day over the next few days.
Herbal Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages!
Friday, January 21, 2011
and life on earth, as we know it. I would like to share with you the fact that the House of Commons will be debating the subject of neonicotinoids. From The Independent:
“The House of Commons is to debate the impact on bees and other insects of the new generation of pesticides that has been linked to bee mortality in several countries.
The Government will be called on to suspend all neonicotinoid pesticides approved in Britain, pending more exhaustive tests of their long-term effects on bees and other invertebrates. The subject will be raised in an adjournment debate in the Commons next Tuesday on a motion tabled by Martin Caton, the Labour MP for Gower.”
Beekeeper Phil Chandler shared this link on how to write your MP, with your opinions. There is much more information on that link also, and I invite you to explore it thoroughly. There is a link there, where you can ask your MP to support an Early Day Motion about this suspension of neonicotinoid usage.
Thank you for visiting Comfrey Cottages. And thank you for caringxx
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
…We should all be informed. I am writing this blog post today, in hopes of reaching my readers with the message, it is time to act. Not just read about this atrocity committed on our world, but to understand, be versed in, and be prepared to do your part. It doesn’t matter where in the world you live, this an important global issue.
I am certain most of you have at least become aware, that there was a leaked document, that showed the United States Environmental Protection Agency, was doing anything but protecting our environment and us, when they allowed bee-toxic pesticide usage, despite their own scientists report. For those of you who have not already been made aware of this, I invite you to read this article, and the document itself, (there is a link to the document in the article).
This video, is the beekeeper/ document leaker, Tom Theolbold, telling us about how the EPA ignored warnings about the use of chlothianidin, a pesticide produced by Bayer that mainly is used to pre-treat corn seeds. The pesticide is used on corn, canola, soy, wheat, sunflowers and sugar beets also.
So what can we do? Those of us who do keep bees, need to do so naturally. Those of you who have been thinking about keeping bees, get started. They and we need all the help possible to increase their population. As Tom says, be informed, talk about it, be aware. Make some noise people. Share this with your friends and family. We are not just talking about the fate of the bees, but the fate of our world, as we know it. Do it for the future generations.
I invite you all to sign the petition, to urge the EPA to remove chlothianidin from the market.
Chlothianidin has already been banned in the countries of Slovenia, German, France and Italy. This toxic chemical needs banned worldwide.
I also invite you to read this link and see how the company Bayer AG (the makers of Chlothidanidin) , is involved in GMO’s, and many other environmental dangerous interests. Scary to read of how much money this company spends on lobbying and contributions to political parties. They should be banned from doing so. I consider them traitorous to the entire world. Please join with me in boycotting any product from this company. Search for alternative products, if you find that you customarily do use their products. Become informed on which products they do produce or subsidize. This is a list of some of the key products they have.
Thank you for the time and consideration you put into this subject. It affects us all.
Bright Blessings to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx
Monday, January 17, 2011
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
On weekends, my husband and I like to do daytrips. Yesterday found us exploring some new areas in the state of Iowa. Illinois and Iowa both border the Mighty Mississippi River. We are both very drawn to rivers, and living between the Illinois River and the Mississippi River, we enjoy exploring the history of the towns along them. Today, we headed for LeClaire and then we going to follow the The Great River Road on north to Clinton, cross the river back into the Illinois side and visit Fulton, Illinois.
LeClaire is just a lovely town. The main street runs right through the center of town, and while travelling it, the river is always in view on the east side. The river was still open, from all the barge traffic, so there were many types of birds all over it. We saw all sorts of ducks, and geese and it was a generally refreshing scene to see that life was still abundant and busy, even in the deep of winter
Although, these Canvasback ducks, were quite content to tuck their heads under their wings and just bob along the water taking a snooze:)
LeClaire is a perfect town to visit. It is rich in historical sites with lovely museum’s and points of interest. We decide to visit the Buffalo Bill Cody Museum. I will share in pictures some of the things we saw and learned about. And do visit the site link also. There is much more than simply artifacts relating to Bill Cody. There are many historic displays of events and peoples who have inhabited this region.
The history of an Elm tree that used to grow along the river, and was used as a navigational marker and landmark, by many peoples, throughout the history of this community, appealed to me deeply.
More about this lovely community and our day trip, in another post.
Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Snow on the ground, 4 degrees Fahrenheit outside, so what’s a body to do but… revisit the design an herb garden, which we will be planting in the spring. Adding 21 herbs we will be primarily focusing . Learning about their different soils, water, sun requirements and their different propagation methods. I wanted to incorporate many of the 21 herbs, but also incorporate others herbs and edibles in my design. After hours, upon hours of making graphs,( in order to match up soil, light, growing room, etc plants with others needing the same thing), I came up with the above plan. Eric (Comfrey Cottages Two) and I will be putting in the above design in at his gardens. This works out just lovely as I am across the road at my son Tommy’s house almost daily tending Dylan, so Comfrey Cottages Two is as convenient as my own gardens:) For anyone who hasn’t room to garden or keep bees, I highly recommend considering if you could do so at a friend or relatives home, that might be nearby. So, I am re-exploring the garden design. I spent a good bit of time yesterday getting some seeds ordered and will be looking for the plants of a few of them.
Earlier this year, Eric, my hubby and I went to Burlington, Iowa to the junior college. Once a month from April through September the Southeast Iowa pigeon club, hosts a large flea market kind of affair, on the college grounds. We love to go over as you never know what you will find! On one of our trips, we luckily found a little portable greenhouse for seed starting this year. Similar to the one in the link, only ours has a zipper. Now for the perfect place to put it…
Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Robbing the Bees, by Holley Bishop is just a must read! Holley writes engagingly about the history and lore of beekeeping, along with her own personal experiences and delicious recipes, this is just a honey of a read:)
Following the Bloom, by Douglas Whynott. Necessary read to fully understand the subject of migratory beekeeping. The book is an excellent, interesting read.
( I have to admit I do not condone modern mono crop farming and the necessity of migratory beekeeping, (at least not done the way it is now). Big subject for me to even touch on modern farming methods….could get on my soapbox, but if you are reading this, I am preaching the choir anyway, so just read the book. You will be better informed on the subjects….)
Right, so off to the apothecary
My little kitchen/apothecary corner for things that need shook daily:) Decanting a yarrow/calendula spray.
My children Michelle and Tommy and their families, gave me a gift of money intended for herbal things for my holiday present. I was able to order, several extract tinctures I have been wanting to try and some more tools for the apothecary. I had luckily found one little metal funnel at a flea market earlier this year, and so ordered one to give to Eric. The little dispensary cup with pouring lip is just what I needed! I used it several times today while mixing up different herbal remedy recipes:)
Look how handy the dispensary cup and metal funnel are for filling bottles
So, I spent a part of the day mixing and bottling this and that for the herbal first aid kit I am working on . Notice the jar of vinegar in the above photo. Do you remember when I shared with you about making our own apple cider vinegar? Well, that is some from our first batch, Eric took the second batch with a Mother, to start the process at his house also. I just realized, it is time for me to strain off the one that is working in the crock now and then start my fourth batch of apple cider vinegar! Yea! For me, it is a lot about sustainability. I love it when I am able to use ingredients that I don’t have to buy. Not only for my pocket books sake, but because of saving those carbon footprints:)
I am a candy cane nut, especially when they are corn syrup free, with no artificial colors or flavors. Good for the tummy and nice to have wee ones suck on when distressed and needing treatment from the first aid kit. Take their minds off things, you know;-)
Another look at the dispensary cup
Did you notice the cool 3 spout cup Eric gave me? I have probably already shown you this! lol I just love it so:)
Good news, Earl is acting his old self now:) Who knows what was wrong the other day?! Just grateful he seems fine now. Thank you for all your wishes and prayers for his recovery, they helped!! xx
Thank you for visiting Comfrey Cottages xx
Monday, January 10, 2011
Woke up this morning to a bit of a problem, physically, that made me miss seeing my Dylan and Zoey today:( Maybe something I ate.. who knows! But what makes it a stressy kind of day wasn’t that I felt under the weather, it was because of our 4-5 year old, Earl of Seven
I noticed first thing this morning that Earl just wasn’t himself. He was acting uncoordinated, brushing into things, missing when he leaped, restless, whiny. But, I couldn’t figure out why. Pupils were equal and responsive, and looked just like the other cats eyes looked in the morning sun. I did a thorough body palpitation bit, flexing his joints, checking his responses to stimuli, etc etc. Outwardly, I could see nothing wrong with his ears to cause unbalance. No recordable pain responses anywhere. Eating-check, drinking- check, jumping-check, walking-check. Take a temp- check. Follow him to the box and check out his bodily eliminations. All seems the appropriate amount, color, etc. Exposure to a chemical? I don’t see how. Nothing in the house he could get and I use very safe, natural cleaning products. Not even one plant in the house, too many big trees surrounded us.I am flummoxed and getting a bit uneasy. It appeared his back legs would slide a bit, he would walk through a doorway and head would rather glance the door jam… What the hell is this? I decide to make a vet appointment. I drag my not so well self off to the vet with a very freaked out puddy cat. The vet finds… nothing! Ugggh! So we are home and he actually is resting a bit without me sitting near him so I am thinking it is time to relax, not clean, cook, nothing, just chill a bit. What say you? Clean or go take a nice long soak, and enjoy soaping up with one of these lovely soaps my friend Marci shared with me
I agree the soak it is! Marci has been such a sharing, generous friend and has just today shared exquisitely detailed directions on making soap. Just visit her blog Herbal Nature and see what she has shared:) I am so grateful for her for posting all about soap making:) On my list to do soon, the proper way, this time:)
Now clean and relaxed from the tub, I think it is time to evict Patrick Starr from my roosting spot and relax with a double tea bag cup of chamomile, and have a shot of valerian flower extract tincture as a chaser:) My nerves are a wee bit fried. I do so worry about my furbabies:) I will keep you posted on how he does.
For the meantime, I am hitting the couch and will soon be smothered by a purring, furball. It might be…
Wisteria, Hyacinth Bouquet, or maybe Violet Joy
or Dandelion, or maybe Rose Marie’. Or any combination!
Earl seems to be a bit more comfortable resting at the moment. I open the closet for him in case he felt like a hidey hole, as cats do when feeling poorly. Guess he must not feel as bad as I do just watching him as he hasn’t went and hid. Sigh.. will keep you posted.
Big hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages
Sunday, January 9, 2011
When you click on the picture to enlarge it, you will see the tools and herbal helpers I used. I love the little blue flashlight. It is a very powerful light that is just the right size and is useful for these older eyes when I am examining something up close, like the splinter. The lovely old magnifying glass has been passed down on my mother side of the family. I love its design, connection to my ancestors and the nice long cord to drape around my neck so I don’t drop it or loose it. Another useful tool for the older eyes ;-) The chamomile tea was used to calm down Lily, the victim of the splinter:) Then the pine salve was put on the area were the splinter was under her nail, to help draw it out, with a bandage on top.
I will continue adding some things to the herbal first aid kit and replacing things as they are used. Some of the items are inspired by the list in the lesson, but I am making it my own and adding a few things that I find useful:)
And my last ethno botanical book from my wish list came in! In love:)
My last news, but not least, is I have a new grandpuppy! lol This is Dylan, my soon to be 3 year old grandson, with new puppy Zoey:)
Thursday, January 6, 2011
So this morning I was exploring another new to me site, when I ran across this one, The Self Sufficient Gardener . I am very impressed with the content of this site, and wanted to share with you all:) The page I just linked you to, has some text posts and podcasts leaned toward the medicinal uses of plants. Jason Akers site is one I am sure I will be exploring more, and thought you might enjoy it also:) I giggled at his video The Passion of the Bumblebee
Thanks for visiting Comfrey Cottages xx
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
It was nice to be able to go to my herbal oil cabinet and see that I had made, this last season, from either wild crafted or home grown herbs, the three oils I would need. I had also, previously poured some of our own melted beeswax into little molds that each end up being the perfect amount for this particular recipe, 1 tablespoon.
So I melted the beeswax and then added the three oils, in the given amounts, into my little cast iron pan.
After the melted beeswax and the 3 oils were mixed together well, it was time to remove the pan from the heat and let it cool down. Then a small whisk was used on the mixture and lavendar essential oil was added and it was re-whisked and put into containers and labeled.
The next recipe I made was one for both a sunscreen and a burn ointment. This recipe calls for using only one oil. I was happy to learn I had infused the right herb in the right oil, for this recipe, also last year!This recipe, was made using shea butter instead of beeswax. The same method as above was used. I melted the shea butter, added the oil, cooled and whipped with lavendar essential oil.
I ended up using 3 tablespoons of the shea butter, to get the consistency I wanted, and putting the pan in the freezer for a few minutes to hurry up the setting up process before I whipped it.
This is my herbal first aid kit, with the additions of the two new ointments and a thermometer.
In order to complete some of the recipes and I started 6 new tincture extractions, .Chamomile, Fennel, Burdock, Yellow dock, Catnip and Elderflower. Again, from herbs I either grew or wild crafted last season:)
When these tinctures are finished I will be making some more recipes and bottling some of them as is, to include in the kit. This is a work in progress, so stayed tuned for more additions to the kit:)
In the meantime, I am slowly adding more books. The ethno-botanical books are just lovely and I am so thrilled to have them
Very happy to have received Maude Grieve’s, A Modern Herbal. I refer to the online site constantly, so excited to have it in book form:)
Well, that is what is happening at Comfrey Cottages today! Big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit!