Sunday, May 29, 2011

Respiratory system

Learning about the Respiratory system. When  my throat began to feel as if it were swelling and was thick…. my niece Stephanie, had asked me to go morel mushroom hunting with her and I had to regretfully decline as I just knew I was conjuring up some sort of illness. I was so lucky that a week later my nephew Scott, brought me over a nice mess of mushrooms as I never did get out to the woods to hunt any this year…
Back to the story:) It was not but a few hours and I knew I was in for a rough time. Throat getting sore, nose dripping constantly, continuous coughing, sweating, weepy eyes, headachy.. yup, I was a mess so had myself to document!
I took my temperature every few hours, and never did get more than a tiny bit above normal, so was not concerned about making sure the herbs I decided to use were specifically anti- pyretic, (fever preventing). This lack of fever also helped me decide I was going to probably be experiencing a cold and not the flu. Either one is due to a virus so the first thing I need to do was decide which anti-viral herbs I would use. I started by making a big pot of tea with elderflower (also an anti-catarrhal) , lemon balm ( also a decongestant) and mullein (also analgesic,anti-inflammatory and and anti-spasmodic)in it. Mullein is one of the herbs of my Materia medicas . Mullein is an old friend of mine. It grows all over our area and was easily encouraged to grow in the gardens of Comfrey Cottages a few years ago. With the calming effects of the tea I was able to think clearly and get things ready for this journey. I don’t know about you, but when I start to feel unwell I also get a general feeling of nervousness so I really was grateful when I started to just relax and accept the fact I had to slow down and rest.
Before I got feeling completely in the thralls of this roller coaster ride, I made sure and placed in my bedroom boxes of tissue, my teapot  a pitcher of water, and laid out handily several changes of bed linen. When someone is sick it is important to keep the room as fresh as possible, both for the sake of cleanliness and to encourage the return of health, but also to make the unwell person feel fresher, cleaner and thus better also:) Time to pamper myself! I keep spray bottles of just plain water and lavender in the kitchen and in the bath room, as an everyday anti-viral spray for surfaces and the air, so I decided to make a third one for the bedroom to freshen the air periodically and also for the surfaces I touched. I also spritzed the sheets with it when I left the room so that was nice to return to when forced to lie back down:) Since my everyday scent was lavender, for this spray, I added essential oil of lemon to my sick room spray. Lemon is a bright and cheery scent right? And strong enough I could actually smell it! On the stove I kept a pot of water with hyssop essential oil added it to it. Hyssop is also an anti-catarrhal herb and one that really helps me when I have the type of cough that is spasmodic and continuous.
 My throat was just a mess! The constant draining of mucous and coughing was keeping it so raw and was making me so gaggy and my glands were swollen so decided the next thing to do was to make throat spray. No picture of that as I just didn’t think to take many pictures at all during the illness:(  I made the spray from tinctures of plantain, cleavers, yarrow, mullein and horehound. I took spoonfuls of the different honey infused herbs I had on hand such as horehound,(another herb I have grown for a long time and one of this lessons Materia medica herbs), marshmallow root, and hyssop. I sucked on homemade lozenges made with both horehound and mullein leaf. This is my recipe:) It is more taffy like than like a hard candy
1 cup honey ( I use herb infused honey. For this batch I used horehound and mullein infused honeys as I am studying those two herbs and both were useful for my condition)
3/4 cups water ( I use a decoction of both horehound and mullein)
1 teaspoon vinegar (I used an herbal vinegar of sage and thyme I already had made in the larder)
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
2 tablespoons of real butter
2 cups organic sugar
In a heavy saucepan I combine the sugar, vinegar and salt. I stir in the honey and herbal decoction and stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Continue stirring over heat until the mixture starts to boil, and then just let it cook undisturbed until it reaches the soft crack stage at about 270 degrees. Then add the butter. Have a buttered and lipped cookie sheet at the ready, and pour the mixture into it. After it cools enough to handle, butter up your clean hands and stretch, pull, and fold the taffy onto itself, repeatedly for about 15 minutes. Then roll it out into snake like rolls of about 1/2  inch in diameter. Butter a knife or pair of scissors, and cut these rolls into one each pieces, wrap them in small pieces of waxed paper, twisted to close:)
A nice recipe for a respiratory syrup , which I found to be very beneficial. I did take pictures of that:)
Another herbal helping action I took was to use herbal steams and saline rinses. For the herbal steams, I would cook a pot of mullein, horehound and water until it boiled, added some essential oil of hyssop, poured it all in a big bowl and tented my head with a towel as I leaned over the vapors and inhaled.

Big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx

Monday, May 23, 2011

Michelle’s Birthday Trip to The Farm and The Oaks on Seventh Tearoom

Every year, (at least for this last decade),  for my daughter Michelle’s birthday, we take a special trip to The Farm. Usually we go to a certain tearoom near there, but this year we decided to try The Oaks on Seventh. What a beautiful tearoom and wonderful food! We ordered three different sandwiches and split them between ourselves. My favorite was one with pears and provolone on grilled cinnamon bread:)




Uncle Eric and daughter Michelle


See the little ad that says Love a good mystery? The tearoom is part of a Bed and Breakfast which hosts mystery weekends! We are thinking to stay there and participate in the fall!

After our wonderful brunch, we went to The Farm.  Many of my original herb plants came from there.

I love the way Gail has used puffy paints to make these little garden signs. She has just recently added the herbal usage to some of these signs. These pictures are from the Powder Room themed garden

The huge wisteria in the middle of the gardens, makes for a nice shady spot to relax in

The greenhouse has many different plants for sale

The checkerboard thyme garden is attractive


Other themes such as Baby Bed, Mint Bed and Medicinal Garden were featured

Everywhere you look, these gardens are enchanting and beautiful:)

The shop has dried herbs, arrangements, linens, cooking herbal packages and more

I feel very blessed to have such a lovely, thoughtful, caring, intelligent daughter. xxx I love her so much and look forward each year to celebrating her birth, with her, in such a special way . Love you Michelle Elizabeth!! I know Uncle Eric feels the same way:)

Herbal and Honey Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx

After Some Weeding

Borage, to the right of the paver, sage in front, calendula behind it. I used sand to outline things:) The bush is the Julie Child rose, which is suppose to have a tidy shape.
More calendula at the back, more borage to the right of the bee paver and rosemary in front of the borage and thyme to the left of it. You can just see some of the strawberries that have been moved to pots this year (for now)
at the front, (in front of those bricks), another rosemary and pineapple sage, lemon verbena and lemon grass to the left at the back, st. john’s wort

And then another rose bush to the left of everything. I need to work on the path way right through the middle of this.  Gerald told me he has to mix up some concrete to set a fence pole soon, so I will be breaking out my Poetry Stone kit, and making path stones with hand and feet prints of the children:)
On the other side of the chain link fence, my friend and neighbor Claude, and I  have discussed landscaping that area too:)
This is what the garden bed looked like to the south of the old strawberry weed patch. Believe it or not, there is monardo, two different milkweeds, elderberry, rue, lovage, horseradish, elecampane, st. john’s wort, joe pye weed, feverfew, boneset, more strawberries, daylily, Echinacea and others in this mess:)
Most of that is what is locally known as Creeping Charlie, but ever since I got into herbie things, I have known it as Ground Ivy, Glechoma hederacea. Lucinda wrote a lovely blog post recently about this plant. xx I have some of it juiced and frozen, alcohol tinctured, and honey preserved:) I am blessed with this plant in abundance, and leave it to grow where it will until I need to evict it to allow other things their turn to grow. The honey bees forage it extensively :)
So what can we see after some maintenance?
Joe Pye Weed, Eupatorium maculatum, (the tallest one), Bee Balm, Monarda fistula, Echinacea purpurea, and the Boneset, Eupatorium peroliatum seedlings will be transplanted near this spot too.
Feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium, Butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa …
Elderberry, Sambucus nigra, Common milkweed, Asclepias syriacea, Rue, Ruta graveolens, Violets, more Bee balm and Echinacea
That is just another angle of the elderberry, feverfew and butterfly mildweed, and common milkweed, and lovage
That is a currant bush with raspberries behind it. I might end up moving it…
The next part of this side garden goes all the way to the beehive corner and around the south fence. Rose of Sharon, more Ground ivy, raspberries, and the big stand of plants before the hives is sunchokes, from Kristine:)
I am making progress:) Removed a couple of elderberry and raspberries this morning, and passed them on to nephew Scott, to put in over at his house, where we are gardening also:)
Well, that is this weeks garden update! Some of these plants have been established for awhile. Many were originally planted as they are natives, and thus benefit our wild life, besides having herbal usage histories.
Big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Road Trip Fun in Manito, IL

Wanted to share with you all some unusual lawn art my hubby and I found by accident on a recent road trip. We had stopped at an antique shop in Manito, and were driving around the town just gandering when suddenly we spy elk, buffalo, and tigers, oh my!




We spotted these from a few streets away and couldn’t resist going to see what they were! They were at a landscape business named Artistic Landscapes. We learned that these pieces are cast aluminum that the resident artists paints! Amazingly cool to say the least!

This is also the place where hubby bought my Julie Child rose bush for part of my Mother’s Day presents.


Herbal and Honey hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Divide, Thin and Replant

On the west side of the pond area, the daylilies, violets, and marshmallow have grown so much I couldn’t even find the soapwort! I decided the next project would be to thin out that area


A bucket full of daylilies and violets to transplanted elsewhere


Found the soapwort! LOL


The cattails at the pond need divided too, but that will have to be on another day as I noticed this


I couldn’t see the lily of the valleys for the bleeding hearts and hostas! So…. thin and trim time there also and suddenly


They are blooming and I didn’t even know it! Lily of the Valleys are my daughters birth month flower, the flower for May, so especially dear to me:) My friend Debs, of Herbal Haven, wrote extensively about this lovely flower.


the pictures above and below show the area after the cleanup. I can now see and enjoy the lily of the valley now:) Btw, another reason to love this flower, my little granddaughter Lily Lynn is named for her xx

Now the strawberry bed… or should I say weed patch?


I have since removed the strawberries and put them in pots for the time being. Thinking to make a strawberry tower like my friend Anke did and posted about! Did manage to get most of this area tilled up before full dark and intend to plant it with my rose bushes, and probably plant in the front with rosemary, calendula, borage, and lavender. Will share with you when completed. It is raining today which is probably a good thing because my back needs a break. Between the garden work, the trellis revamp, my back is pretty sore!

I brought some flowers in to press. I am suddenly enamored with pressing flowers and maybe making my own cards etc with them. I don’t  think Mrs. Maude Grieve’s would mind a bit her book being used for this purpose, do you?:)



If this fascination continues, I might have to build a real flower press:O

Well off to an auction! have a great day:)

Big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottagesxx


Friday, May 13, 2011

Congratulations to Anke Bialas and Herbology at Home

Wow, my friend Anke’s Making Herbal Remedies (Herbology at Home) is #5 on Amazon’s bestseller list in the herbal remedies category! Congratulations Anke! 

I wrote about Anke and and this first of a series of three books Anke will be writing, (Making Herbal Remedies, 50 Herbs for the Home and Growing Herbs), previously on this post.


For those of you who don’t know it, a few months back I asked Anke if Comfrey Cottages could hook on to her Herbology site. I just wanted to do something to help support her efforts, and thought that might be one way:) I am honored that there is a button on the site with Comfrey Cottages name on it now:) So whether you access Herbology  via the computer, iphone or ipod, you can also follow Comfrey Cottages via Herbology through those gadgets also:) For someone who didn’t even own a computer before 6 years ago, this is quite heady stuff!!

If you haven’t visited Herbology yet, I suggest you do and see just what all you have been missing! Simply a lovely site keeping the old herbal traditions alive, with cool modern touches and applications:)

Again, congratulations Anke! xx

Big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx


Next UK Herbarium Blog Party May 20th! Flower Essences

Sarah, of Tales of a Kitchen Herbwife, is hosting this months UK Herbarium herbal blog party! She has chosen for the theme:) How fun right?! Sarah says…..

What are they? How do you make them? What do they mean to you? The aim of this set of posts is to discover how you relate or don't relate to flower essences. How do you learn the energetic property of the plant? Do you read a book, discover an internet article or ask the plant to tell you? How do you use the finished essence? Do you use the original infusion or do you use a homeopathic dilution? Have you noticed any difference? What do you use flower essences for? What are your stories? Can you share them with us, no matter how strange or bizarre.
Please let me know if you wish to take part in the blog party (the more the merrier). Once you've written your blog post, send me the link to the article by email at sarah at headology dot co dot uk by 20 May. I know there isn't much time, but this month is proving frantically busy both on a work and gardening front for me, so please bear with me.
If you don't have a blog, but would like to write an article, let me know and we'll arrange a host blog for your post. I look forward to reading everyone's thoughts.

I hope you won’t be shy and will consider submitting your thoughts and pictures!

Big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx

Congratulation to The Herb Channeler!

My dear friend Nancy Heraud deserves a big congratulations! She now has her own blog called The Herb Channeler on The Herb Companions blog!! Way to go Nancy, congratulations, I am so happy for you and proud of you!! For those who haven’t met Nancy, she is a lovely fellow herbie lady who hosts a lovely blog already, Lemon Verbena Lady’s herb garden, (you can reach it at the above link). She has had many articles published in The Herb Companion magazine also:) Quite a talented, vivacious, friendly woman who I dearly adore and hope to meet some day! We don’t live too great of a distance from each other, so this will for sure happen xx


This virtual rose is for you, Nancy! From the rose bush my hubby gave me for Mother’s Day! Meet Julia Childs! lol How appropriate a butter colored rose, for a woman who thought no dish was complete without real butter! :) I somewhat agree with her on that! lol!



Finally started vegetable gardening

After fits and starts due to mechanical difficulties, we started our garden a bit later than we wanted to. Finally last weekend we did get some things planted. My husband was kind and just went and bought me a new tiller and cultivator. We had the old tiller to shop 3 times to no avail. I told him I thought they made lovely Mother’s Day presents:)


this is a new area so first year of digging will be the worst. Looking forward to next year already, as we will be able to get an earlier start (fingers crossed for weather). So far we have black raspberries started, peas, tomatoes, potatoes, corn, and three sisters (corn, with beans and squash planted in the mounds), green peppers, green beans and a few other things planted. We will hopefully be finishing up the other things this weekend.


Scott and Eric

And then the three of us!


Will keep you updated as the season progresses. I am so thankful for this space to garden in!! Now I don’t have to try to veg garden in my shady garden at my own home. It was a lesson in futility! lol

And thank you for all of you who sent prayers and good energy toward my friend Anke during the horrible tornadoes in the south recently. I have heard from her and she and her family are fine. The tornado devastated 80% of her neighborhood, but thankfully, missed her street, so her home was saved also! xxxx

Herbal and Honey Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages