Sunday, July 31, 2011

Full Disclosure!

It had been at least four weeks since Eric and I last visited the veg garden we put in at our nephew Scott and his wife Dawn’s, garden. Friday nite, there was a small break in the horribly hot weather we are having so we went to visit and found this…


lets see some more angles, just so you know the full truth



Not surprising with the relentlessly high heat and humidity we have had. The same weather that I simply melt in and develop shingles in. Really, it wasn’t devastating to me or anything, even though our corn did poorly, the beans disappeared we still are getting plenty or squash, gold potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli and other things:) Besides, I am fond of a few of these “weeds”. Poke, sheep sorrel, cleavers, ground ivy, chickweed, lamb’s quarters and others have been providing a playground for some adorable baby bunnies who were running around like little dervishes!

We went ahead and did a bit of tidying and harvesting and yesterday we started putting things up for winter by doing some dehydrating of tomatoes while enjoying tomato sandwiches and elderflower cordial:)

the potatoes that got speared with the fork, while digging, were cut up and frozen in the freezers. the others we are going to put up in buckets full of sand and store in the basement for the future. We have lots of squash and some we are going to go ahead and bake, scoop and freeze, some will be sliced up and frozen for later.  We are going to try and arrange root cellar type pallets or something in our basements to store some and this will be a first for us also, so will share with you all when we do.

To reward ourselves for our valiant foray into the wild and wooly garden we escaped to the lake for awhile and enjoyed harvesting a bit of monarda while there

More disclosure on the gardens around Comfrey Cottages soon. Including the beautiful burdock that is the official greeter at my front door:)

In the meantime, I disclose that my husband periodically goes to the store and lays in his supply of soda, plus many other unhealthy things! lol! I do indulge every so often, I must admit!

The kittens are 8 weeks old now, and I seriously should start trying actively to find them homes while they are still little… seems that is when people want to adopt but I find it so hard to consider when Peppermint still allows them to nurse


So I also disclose I have too much on my plate… I always do, and wouldn’t have it any other way! lol! Having a full plate is not something we always actively seek, but is sometimes just given to us by the web of life.  My gardens and a home are far from tidy, but all creatures and people within my sphere are happy and healthy so I am content.

My darling little herbie apprentice and granddaughter Lily celebrated her 7th birthday by getting feathers in her hair! lol! The apple of my eye! xxx

Big hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx I hope I haven’t scared you off from visiting again! :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Herbal Thirst Quenchers – July Herbarium Blog Party

Danielle Charles, of The Teacup Chronicles, is hosting this months Herbarium Blog Party. She chose the topic of Herbal Thirst Quenchers for the Dog Days. Well it certainly is the dog days around Comfrey Cottages! It is scorching and extremely dangerous heat index in this neck of the woods! Luckily, we still have a few lemon balm popsicles left in the freezer


I do not have a precise recipe, as I am a “by taste” kind of cook, but I will try to give you a rough guideline of how I make ours.

After harvesting, and sorting through lemon balm from the gardens, I chop up enough to fill about half way, a gallon or 3.78 liter glass jug of some sort. I use my sun tea pitcher. Just loosely fill it with the chopped leaves, don’t mash it down. Then fill it with fresh, hopefully non -chlorinated water, and place in the sun, just like you would any other sun tea:)


For this batch I just brought the tea pitcher back inside, strained out the leaves, tasted it, and decided to add some fresh lemon juice to it to give it even more of a lemony taste. Now if you decide to add sweetener, this is up to you. I did by adding some sugar infused with lemon balm and some lemon balm infused honey. I just took some of the lemon balm infusion and gently warmed it on the stove, adding some of the honey and some of the sugar until dissolved and then adding back to the pitcher. I have made these before with just the honey, (about 1/2 cup or 125 ml. per jar , but I had made the lemon balm infused sugar and just felt like adding a bit:) The added lemon juice is to your taste also, and is optional.

Then just pour or ladle into cups and then put into freezer. When they are a bit frozen insert the popsicle sticks and let freeze until firm. Putting the cups into the deep sided baking pan helps keep the whole thing easily transferable from counter to freezer:)

Now I like to make this same lemon balm sun tea type infusion then for each cup or 250 ml, add about a teaspoon or 5 ml lemon juice, same of honey and a little pinch of sea salt. Electrolytes can be made and retained with honey, acid in the form of lemon or vinegar and sea salt, combined, so the presence of all three in this drink, is  very beneficial if one is going to be out working, playing or exercising in the heat. 

Thank you for visiting Comfrey Cottages xx

oh! you ask how Peppermint and the kittens, also Max and Ruby and the ducklings are? Well….

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ooooo I would like some vodka please!

When birthdays come around and family starts asking me what I would like, I always have a huge list of books and other things for them to choose from:) I love presents! This year Eric asked me and I immediately said, “ Ooooo I could use some vodka please!”


The lemon balm was at the perfect time for harvest and I was out of vodka, and wanted to make some alcohol herbal extracts… so Eric bought me two bottles for my birthday this year:) Nice huh? LOL!!!


So on a quiet Saturday I harvested about sink full at a time of lemon balm, came inside and plucked through the leaves one at a time, discarding the less that perfect, while watching the Victorian Pharmacy series I received from my friend Debs:) A totally pleasant day:) Debs wrote quite a bit about lemon balm in this post. I know you will enjoy reading it too.

Other lovely birthday goodies


Son Tommy and his family gave me wonderful Burts Bees products, presented inside that cute ladybug toy, (plus souvenirs from their Florida vacation). Buddy Marci, in Washington state, sent me oh so lovely grapefruit scented soap, lavender eo and the nicest ladle ever! My sweet Rita in Belgium sent me a darling friends magnet and some viola seeds from her garden!

Daughter Michelle and her family gave me balloons, flowers, some much needed clothes and made me the most wonderfully delicious and gorgeously decorated cake





Also included in the package from Marci, was a sample of her black cottonwood buds infused in olive oil. I sent her a sample of mine also, which is made from eastern cottonwood buds. Hers is the one on the right which is much redder in color and I thought, more piney smelling. We know I harvested mine a bit later than I should have for this area, but I did try to get some earlier, (wrote about that in this post), and even then my type of cottonwood buds while resinous, seemed to be more sweet smelling than particularly, for lack of a better word, piney.  It will be great fun for us to use the oils in various ways and compare our impressions:)


Big hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Forgive Me!

I have to ask all my fellow bloggers forgiveness! For the last two months, I have been unable to comment on other blogs when as home. And home is when I generally have a moment to check on and comment to everyone! When I am at my children's homes during the day, I usually just don't have a moment on the computer:( So I have been feeling bad not commenting and carved a few minutes of time and found there was a blogger post about this in the help section, and they suggested just not checking the box that said remember my info. So, after unticking that, I seem to be able to comment again! Whew! I will steadily work my way through commenting on your blogs, that I have only been able to read and not comment to for the last two months!! Big hugs and again sorry!! Love you all:)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Elderflower Cordial and a Roadtrip

I had a chance to harvest some elderflowers and try the lovely elderflower cordial recipe, my sweet friend Rita shared with us:) It is so delicious!

My hubby, Eric and I took a daytrip and first went to Burlington, Iowa where we saw something weird. The mayflies had hatched and there were piles of them either dead or dying everywhere around the visitor center!

Weird huh? There were still a lot of them flying all over the place!

We then decided to go back over to the Illinois side of the Mississippi River and take The River Road to Navoo.

My favorite historic building there is the apothecary and variety store

We had been to this historic village before, so I had just wanted to briefly swing into revisit this apothecary and revisit their medicinal gardens. Was I disappointed! They had ripped out all their huge mature plants and put in new ones, which were really more annual types so not near as interesting to me:( Also, Eric found right on the outside of the gardens a trap with a poor raccoon which had obviously been in there a long time and was very thirsty, hot, and probably hungry! So inside the building I tromped to raise hell and insist someone let the poor thing go, and if they must trap and release them, to check their traps more often! ggggggrrrrrrrr!


Poor little fellers big offense was raiding trash cans! I suggested those folks might do better to bunge strap their cans, then to trap and torture poor critters! These building are by a river and a woods, for pete’s sake! Do they really think raccoons won’t try and raid their cans?!

I frankly was glad to get out of there after that, so we just travelled on down the river road, looking at this and that until we ended up at Quincy, Illinois. There we discovered an unusual building Villa Kathrine, so we took a tour.

So a little bit of herbal deliciousness and a glimpse at our road trip:)

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


Friday, July 8, 2011

The Apothecary's Daughter( book) and Victorian Pharmacy (video)

I have such dear friends! Beautiful Debs turned me on to a great video series called Victorian Pharmacy:) Even if you just fancy history, but not so keen on medicinal, this series is for you! I harvested lemon balm and worked with it, while watching this series for hours last Saturday:) If you have ever wondered what sheep intestine condoms, fireworks, lead nipple shields, and plaisters have in common, this is a must watch for you! lol! I learned so many things and was thoroughly entertained and enthralled so I hope you can make time to enjoy it also, if you haven't already watched it:) You will find the full documentary at this link:)

 This series was timely in relations to the fact I had recently read a good book called The Apothecary's Daughter. This book was set in the Regency Era, so its historical references, such as the laws pertaining to an apothecary, are in the era before the Victorian Pharmacy. So you see, I was able to get a taste of the apothecary business in a sequential manner which was most helpful to be able to see the progression of ideas, culture trends, laws, medical advancements, marketing, women's issues and a whole host of other things that made me understand and appreciate the labor and dedication of this profession of apothecaries! The Apothecary's Daughter, by Julie Klassen, is a delightful read I think you will enjoy:) A bit of romance also! As usual I would write more, but 3 children here and two on the way! lol!

Big hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages! xx

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Birth House


I wanted to take a moment out of the day, to share with you a really good book, The Birth House by Ami McKay. When I am searching for a book to read I usually plug in the words; bees, beekeeping, honey, herbs, herbal, midwife, and similar ones and then read the librarian review and decide whether to pursue it.  This book was the fruit of one such recent search and I found it just an excellent read!

The story is set in Nova Scotia, and is a result of the writer of this novel discovering that the house she was living in was originally a birth house! The lead character Dora, comes to the art of midwifery through her apprenticeship with a local midwife/herbalist. The book is a sometimes gritty, often hilarious, touching, moving story of a time in history when women still were in charge of the health and welfare of their own families and themselves. The story develops as a new doctor and medical facility moves to the community and comes in odds with Dora and her midwifery. I could go on and on about how much I loved this book but two of the little grandchildren just arrived so must keep this brief! The Midwife’s Garden poem and excerpts from Dora’s stillroom book at the back of the novel are true gems!!

Big hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages and happy reading! xx