Sunday, August 30, 2009

Calling All Herbies to the Hop!

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!


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



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!! :)

Friday, August 28, 2009

More Alchemy Courtesy of The Bees

Today I decided the time was right to decant the comfrey oil, st. john’s wort oil, and the yarrow tincture. I don’t know why but the picture color is not the color i saw with the st. john’s wort oil and the yarrow tincture! both were a lovely deep ruby color but turned out purplish in these pics!



trust me, they are a gorgeous ruby color. will have to figure out why the color in the pics are different than in real life. any suggestions?

the comfrey oil was a lovely green shade.


all of them smelled wonderful! so earthy, and wholesome!

the comfrey oil and the st. john’s wort oil are both going to be used in healing salves. the comfrey for the little scrapes and cuts we all get in are day to day lives. i will add a bit of thyme oil to the comfrey oil salves also. comfrey heals wounds so quickly that if there is a bit of infection present, it could actually seal the infection in, so the thyme will help prevent this with its antiseptic properties. the st; john’s wort oil  will help with the bruises, scrapes, nerve pain, and also for the basis for sunscreen. when i use these in salves i will be using some of the wonderful beeswax from the first honey harvest. this is the large baking dish full i have from the wax that has been draining since the harvest a couple weeks ago. most of the honey is drained out of it now.


i will gently melt this wax in a pot over boiling water until it is smooth and i can pour it into individual containers. some to mix with the healing salves and then some i am going to try something new. my beautiful daughter michelle is a diabetic and just plagued by dry skin. i am going to try a couple different oils added to the beeswax to see if i can make her a good moisture rich skin salve/ lotion. thinking to see how organic coconut oil mixes with the beeswax for one.

so more alchemy happening here at comfrey cottages courtesy of our bee friends. both for the lovely beeswax and also the lovely plants i am working with. will post more as i work with these things with pictures also.

big herbal and honey hugs to all of you who visit here at comfrey cottages!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How do You Spell Love?


Love! There are so many ways to express and show love. One of the most beautiful ways I have ever been able to see love in action, occurred yesterday morning. My wonderful son Tommy, his beautiful wife Lisa, their daughter Taylor, Lisa’s mom Michelle, and Lisa’s best friend Jodi and I all went to the courthouse for the adoption of Taylor by Tommy! It is a beautiful thing folks and I am still having happy tears!


ADOPTION is another way to spell LOVE!!!

Was so beautiful seeing Jodi, and seeing the love flowing from her to all of us! It has been such an honor and pleasure getting to know Jodi:)


So another way to spell Love is FRIENDSHIP!

(that is jodi on the left and lisa on the right)

so gentle readers, sorry to be away from you all a few days, but we have been a bit tied up with family joys for a week! we have also experienced birthday parties, loosing our first two baby teeth, and first days of school!



that is of course, if you are a regular visitor, my lily lynn. i miss her so much!

and this is thomas, another grandson. my hubby’s daughter tammey’s son. We celebrated his birthday Saturday when he turned 9.


Soooo, one more way to spell Love…FAMILY!

So many ways to love! May all of you have many ways of feeling love in your lives daily also! big herbal and honey hugs to all of you who visit Comfrey Cottages!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Canning With Children

I love to involve kids when canning the sweet things! Lily helped me with applesauce yesterday. She faithfully washed each and every apple and…. enjoyed the fruits of her labor!



wow, am i going to miss her next week when she starts full time kindergarten!!

Small Space Gardening

I am always inspired when I see peeps that are gardening, in less than ideal spots. I guess it is because my own yard, while roomy for an in town situation, is very shady. Anyway, I just wanted to share with all of you my lovely Katee , and some of the small space gardening she does, as well as some of her neighbors. Katee lives in a single story apartment complex, with I guess maybe a total of 10 units. Katee specializes in growing mints and chives and shares with me generously!! This pic is of Katee in front of her chocolate mint bed. She makes the most wonderful chocolate pudding with her chocolate mint! Maybe if we ask nice she will share the recipe!


On the west side of her building, she has chives, peppermint, spearmint and the new orange mint!




I am so impressed with this urban, small scale gardening that Katee and some of the other residents do. Some peeps have cantalope vines running up onto their porch


while others have pumpkins, tomatoes, and other fresh veggies growing!



Do any of you face any challenges with your gardens? Space, light, water, etc? Seeing these small space gardeners at Katee’s apartments, really made me happy and I wanted to share with everyone and give a big shout out to Katee and all her neighbors..

“Proud of you all!!”

Friday, August 14, 2009

And the Winner is.....

hootie! you really can't read it on the paper though, sorry!lol hootie email me you addy at and i will get your happy honey bear mailed out to you! thanks to all of you who stop in to chat here at comfrey cottages. big herbal and sticky honey hugs all around! lol

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Personal Heroine this Summer

Lily Lynn, my little granddaughter that just turned five in july! she has learned to swim like a fish and ride without training wheels, all in the last month! this little lady is full of determination, brave and is just a little bulldog when she sets her mind to something! she had a blast today as her best friend mya came over to swim. this is a little video of lily (the blonde), mya and cousin taylor swimming today. i am very proud of my little heroine!

The Shell Game

this video is hilarious! my grandson evan, decided to play his version of the shell game. he used some wooden boxes for “shells” and a red plastic box for the “coin”. now his version entails having me close my eyes so i can’t watch him!lol watch and see how he is busted by being caught on tape removing the red block from the table and then… dropping it!lol he didn’t know i was still taping and didn’t know he was…. caught on video! been singing “bad boys” song to him all day!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

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!


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



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?!



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


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!


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!


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!

Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down!

i was delighted to find dylan's sister taylor and cousin evan playing this old timey favorite game today. don't worry, they are careful with dylan! lol he sure seemed to thoroughly enjoy it!

More Great Gardens Giveaways at Thyme for Herbs

wow, this is such a lovely blog and so sweet to be hosting such cool giveaways! thyme for herbs is certainly with visiting!

Great Garden Giveaway at Thyme for Herbs

one of my favorite blogs is hosting a series of giveaways! thyme for herbs is so lovely, do check it out!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Happy Little Honey Bears!

started bottling honey yesterday. just thrilled with the color and taste of this years harvest!



to celebrate i want to offer one of these little cuties as a giveaway! just leave a comment on this post and i will have lily draw a name out of the hat on friday! thanks to all of you for your support and for visiting comfrey cottages! big herbal hugs to all of you! :)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Honey Harvest August 8th 2009!

whoo whoo! starting the honey harvest! below is a picture of a capped honey frame taken from one of the yellow hives honey supers(the box which holds 10 frames for the bees to build wax on and store nectar in). isn’t it a gorgeous white?!


now i am harvesting using the crush and strain method. first i remove a frame of capped honey (the bees flap their little wings and evaporate some of the moisture from the nectar and when the moisture level is right, they seal each cell with wax, thus the name, capped honey). i am using a glass dish with a silicon flexible mat in it. first i cut off the honey comb from the frame


then i use a pestle to crush the wax and honey.


i then pick up the silicon mat and let it all ooze into my new bucket with a strainer in it. this bucket also has a gate at the bottom for using when time to bottle the honey that has filtered through the screen.


these following pics are close ups of the bucket and the screen



when i am thinking i am close to capacity i will put the bucket in the sun with a lid on it with a brick on the lid!

very excited as this is the first year i am going out on my own from the normal way of beekeeping in my area. i did no supplemental sugar feedings and went to foundationless frames, and of course, no chemical intervention or brood building patties etc, so… i can now say my beekeeping methods are organic! the bees did a beautiful job of creating their own wax and the honey is light and delicious! i will keep you posted on how much i actually get harvested and bottled. thinking to make some herbal infused honey with some of it.

the harvested wax will be put to good use in herbal salves, which i will tell you about when the time comes. good fall/winter time activity.

when i have cut the comb off the frames i am just leaning them into another pan to finish dripping and then i will save the frames to use next year! i won’t trim off the excess wax on them as with foundationless frames,  you really need to leave a little on the frame so the bees will hopefully cooperate and build their comb in the direction i need to easily harvest from! lol

big thanks to wendy at midwest green for turning me on the live writer as this post looks alot nicer than previous ones!

huge herbal hugs to all who visit comfrey cottages:)