Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bent by the Wind and Pricked by Thorns

This year rose has been my number one ally with my SSA. I have found much common ground with my beloved rose…and learned so much about her and myself in the process…

“A rose, bent by the wind, and pricked by thorns, and yet has its heart turned upwards.”   Huna of Babylon


Life offers so many challenges.. some of them not very pleasant… the trick is to be like the rose, and accept the thorns and their lessons, and bend with the wind.. all the while still opening our heart to what the Universe is teaching us and coping by turning our faces to the Sun….

For those less than pleasant times, rose in any form will help you cope. She supports us on an emotional level with a softening action. She helps us be open to love and open to giving love, not only to others, but also ourselves.

I have learned for myself, simply applying some rose otto to my pulse points, chakras, and a bit under my nose, or rubbing safflower/almond oil I have double infused with rose, into my skin, I feel a centering and opening.

A personal story, one day, a few years ago, something had happened that just had my nerves feeling frayed, I was scattered emotionally and shaky physically, so I went in the bathroom to do my rose oil ritualistic application… I ended up totally naked, slathered from top to bottom in rose oil! Time had disappeared, or at least as I know felt as if I simply left my tired, exhausted, frayed soul behind and came back refreshed, calm and centered… a true metamorphosis had occurred.

In Ayurvedic medicine, roses are considered cooling and tonic for the mind. My own experiences with rose verifies this. One of my lessons learned on this year long journey is that rose is an important emotional supportive herb, a nervine that is steadfast in helping depression and anxiety.

chakras        ( I can’t give credit for this photo, as it is a fb foundling… if it is yours or you know whose it is, please tell me so I can give credit for this lovely photo)

Being an energy worker, I will share that physically rose works on the first chakra, symbolizing vitality and strength. Rose can help you overcome fear. Remember, fear can manifest as feeling you have no control over something…For harmony and balance I place rose scent over my fourth chakra. A dab on my third eye, helps me meditate, center, have understanding, and become one with the universe. I like to dab my third eye with rose before bedtime as it helps me to explore the dream world, and expands my intuition..

Herbal and Honey Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xxx

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Year with the Rose - History

I had a list of 20 herbs to study, with Rose being my number one, as part of my Springfield Sanctuary Apprenticeship.

julia childs                    ( Julia Childs rose in my garden)

I am a ground up learner, so this year I really delved into the history of roses. I bought two books that I especially enjoyed as good reads, besides learning about roses in history, their lineages and other tidbits such as how to identify by the type of thorns etc.

 A Rose by Any Name  The Little-Known Lore and Deep-Rooted History of Rose Names by Douglas Brenner, (former Martha Stewart Living garden editor) and Stephen Scanniello, (President of the Heritage Rose Foundation).


 From the ancient Apothecary Rose to the modern roses like my Julia Childs, this book has a story behind about 1200 roses. It is not some dry, boring read either. Oh no, it has humor, wit, romance, intrigue, triumph, failure, glory, sadness and danger all included. Great leaders, actors, politicians, Empresses, Queens, Presidents, artists of every stripe, and many of other types of peoples,  stories entwined throughout. Even if you are not a rosarian, this little book is a wonderfully entertaining read, and gave me a great appreciation of just how important roses have been throughout history, religiously, medicinally, and of course, for their beauty.

In Search of Lost Roses by Thomas Christopher, ( a horticulture, gardening and environmental author of great renown), is the other book with a historical bent I truly enjoyed for what it taught me as well as the stories.


The book, In Search of Lost Roses, tells the story of how after the first hybrid tea rose, in 1867, many of the old roses were for generations virtually unobtainable or lost entirely. He then crafts a wonderful tale of chasing down , across continents, many of these “lost” old roses and bringing them back so we can enjoy and appreciate their historical importance today. We are introduced to rose rustling, ancient Greece, China, and Rome (amongst other places), necropoli, and bridal beds during this fascination journey through time, in search of old roses. A must read!

These books came from the story of roses from a historical perspective in different ways, and they really don’t have much overlap, so I wanted to share about them and suggest both as superb reads for those of you with an interest.

Stay tuned… I will be posting a few fascinating, stories where Rose was a witness to mankind’s history…

Herbal and Honey Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Learning about the Pancreas

As part of my Springfield Sanctuary Apprenticeship program I have been studying the pancreas. Having a daughter who is insulin dependant, made the subject even more intriguing….and personal.. not only for my daughter, but for all of us who seem to be having unexplained weight gain.. perhaps those of us who have never had a spare pound in our lives..
Where is the pancreas? It lies partially behind your stomach, with the other part being is nestled in the curve of your small intestine (duodenum). It is in between your spine and stomach. It is buried deep and is non palpable.  Hold your thumb to your little finger of your right hand, keep the other three fingers straight and upright, and then place your hand in the center of your tummy right below your lower rib, pointing the three fingers left. This is about where it is. 
The parts of the pancreas are
 The pancreas is composed of a system of ducts and glandular tissue. The Pancreatic duct is the main duct and runs the length of the pancreas. It drains the pancreatic fluid from the glad and carries it to the duodenum/small interesting. This main duct has many small side branches and itself is only about 1/16 of an inch. The pancreatic duct joins with the bile duct to form the ampulla of Vater. This a widening of the duct right before it enters the duodenum/small intestine.
We can think of the pancreas as having different functional components, the exocrine and the endocrine parts. The Islets of Langerhan are the endocrine (endo=within) cells of the pancreas secrete and produce hormones into the bloodstream. Insulin and glucagon, the pancreatic hormones, work together to keep the levels of sugar in the blood at proper levels. This sugar, called glucose, is used for energy by the body.
Acinar cells are the exocrine (exo=outward) cells that produce and transport enzymes that will leave the body through the digestive system. They are secreted in the duodenum/small intestine where they help in the digestion of food.
So the pancreas is an integral part of the digestive system. When the pancreas is functioning normally, when food is eaten the glucose and amino acids trigger the pancreas to secrete insulin. The insulin binds to cells and opens the pathway of the cell to open letting glucose, amino acids, nutrients and fats to enter. The cells then begins a process of converting these nutrients into energy. After these nutrients are cleared from the blood the pancreas stops producing insulin. Cells are covered in insulin receptors. These receptors can become resistant and create a condition known as Insulin Resistance. When the insulin can’t get glucose and nutrients into the cells the blood glucose levels remain high and the pancreas produces even more insulin. It is a vicious circle then. The blood stream is saturated with glucose, but insulin levels continue to rise and nutrients can not nourish the cells.
Profile of Insulin Resistance
Elevate triglycerides (>150) or depressed HDL cholesterol (<40 male <50 female)
Waist:hip ratio> or equal to 1 in a male, or waist >40
Waist: hip ratio > or equal to 0.8 in a female, or waist > 35
Abnormal glucose tolerance// Fasting glucose > 10
Why do people become Insulin Resistant?
Genetics (25% of cases)
A diet high in simple carbohydrates with a lack of protein
Lack of resistance exercise
Lack of Essential Fatty Acids
Lack of specific nutrients and trace elements
Too much stress
Lack of sleep
Insulin Resistance can cause difficulties loosing weight, increase your risk of some types of cancer, cause obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension,thrombosis, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, hypothyroid, and increase risk of diabetes.
The cells in the liver are the first cells to become insulin resistant. The liver normally stores glucose in the form of glycogen. In Insulin Resistance, the liver doesn’t sense the presence of glucose and starts making more. This process is known as gluconeogenesis. This liver formed glucose is sent into the blood stream making the already high level of blood sugar, even higher. The liver then stops breaking down fatty acids and starts storing them instead.
White adipose tissue (WAT) is used for storing retrievable fat for energy around the abdomen. This WAT secretes Leptin, a hormone, which sends a signal to the hypothalamus in the brain, telling it that the fat cells are full and it is time to burn some. When the Leptin levels rise the pancreas is also signaled to stop secreting insulin. Leptin is secreted when insulin is binding to cells or when fat cells are full. But, when the levels of glucose and insulin in the bloodstream are high and there is an excess of fat around the abdomen there is a disruption in the the Leptin signal and Leptin levels begin to rise. This high levels of Leptin causes the pancreas and hypothalamus to become defensive and reduce the number of Leptin receptors. This condition is called Leptin resistance. With this disruption of the Leptin signals the person always feels hungry and the metabolism slows down fat burning. The pancreas secretes more insulin and the cycle continues.
The stomach walls secrete a hormone called Ghrelin. This hormone functions to send a signal to stimulate appetite when the stomach is empty. Growth hormone, which builds muscle, burn fat and to sensitize insulin resistant cells is also secreted in response to Ghrelin. But, in Insulin Resistance, the high levels of insulin and glucose disrupt the signal. The insulin levels continue to rise and Growth Hormone secretion is lessened. This having all these disrupted signals cause us to think we are hungry, even when we have eaten,  and contributes to weight gain and not lean muscle building.
High levels of insulin promotes fibrinogen. This increases blood clotting and decreases PAI-1 which inhibits clot breakdown. Both of these factors greatly increase the risk of thrombosis, strokes and heart attacks.
Stress, lack of sleep and lack of exercise can contribute to Insulin Resistance. The adrenal glands secrete the hormone cortisol in response to stress on the body. When cortisol is release due to stress the liver secretes glucose as a form of energy. The glucose signals the pancreas to release insulin. When stress is prolonged the cycle continues and leads to Insulin Resistance. If a person is pre-diabetic, this presence of cortisol can cause diabetes. The cycle of high levels of insulin and cortisol can lead to adrenal exhaustion.
A person can develop hypothyroid, underactive thyroid, when blood levels of insulin are high. The thyroid hormones are less able to convert T-4 to T-3 hormones.
When bone cells become insulin resistant Osteoporosis is likely to occur. Insulin helps protect bones and breaking down and promotes collagen formation.
Growth hormone helps build lean muscle, burn fat and increases insulin sensitivity. Exercise increases the production of growth hormone. Insulin suppresses Growth hormone.
This Insulin Resistance, is also called Metabolic Syndrome, or Syndrome X.  Herbalist Paul Bergner suggests this treatment. All three suggestions must be done simultaneously
Supplements the nutritional deficiencies:
60mg Zinc
800 mg magnesium
600-800 mcg chromium
B-100 complex- complete
Lots of antioxidants: Vitamin C, E, etc
L-carnitine, 500 – 4000 mg
Eat a low carbohydrate diet
Fish oil and flax oil while restricting others. Regular fish consumption is recommended.
Most days do a minimum of 15-20 minutes of resistance type exercise. Exercise that reaches the anaerobic phase.
Don’t smoke
Consult your physician before starting any diet or exercise program
Herbs that might be beneficial include fenugreek, cinnamon, Maitake mushroom and coffee
Herbal and Honey Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx
sources: Paul Bergner’s writing and John Hopkins University website

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Drying Herbs

My niece, Stephanie and I were talking about the challenges most of us face for drying herbs. Many people just lay them out in sheets in their vehicles on a hot day, some folks have room to hang them, Stephanie puts hers on cookie sheets on top of her car. Some folks have extra unused rooms in their homes and can lay them out on extra beds and places. Where I live, Illinois, is a humid area, so great care must be taken to dry things quickly so they don’t mold. No matter what, it seems that it can be a challenge to dry herbs and I have read many wonderful and creative ideas. My old oven had a pilot light and it was just perfect to use, with the oven door slightly cracked, but I had to replace it when it stopped working and I couldn’t find an oven that would fit the spot (a built in), so I lost that drying device. My husband made me a dimmer switch device I can hook on to my crock pot cord (ala Richo Cech) for herbal oils, and I do hook this same cord up to my dehydrator to lower the temp on it when drying herbs, but still, I need more space ideas, because as you know, when it is harvest time, the more ways and places to dry the better!

Stephanie shared this very cool idea and I thought to share it with you. I would advice using cellulose filters and not the asbestos kind :) Anyway, have a look at this video and maybe you too will think this is something you can use in your herb drying adventures:) Chef Alton Brown devices this method using furnace filters and a box fan:) Here is the link!

Big Herbal and Honey Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx



Friday, September 7, 2012

Elder Tree Bark for Bruising

When I first became an apprentice of Sarah Head and joined her Springfield Sanctuary Group, last January, she assigned us the task of finding elder and harvesting the bark to make a salve for bruising.  I wrote about harvesting elder bark and making the salve here. Now all we apprentices started furiously talking among ourselves, as none of us had ever heard of using elder bark for bruising, and Sarah kept quiet while we emailed back and forth and tried to figure out  just why this would work. We all searched and search through old herbals and web sites and discussed the different constituents and all we could come up with was the fact it would be an anti inflammatory. Then I found in my book Indian Herbology of North America by Alma Hutchens where she referred to it for making a discutient ointment. Ah ha! Discutient herbs cause dispersal or disappearance of a pathological accumulation. So elderbark would cause the accumulated blood to disperse to be reabsorbed. Well I have proof of how well this works!
I recently took one hell of a fall. I was trying to step over a baby gate at my dad’s and when I went to place my foot on the floor on the other side, there was no floor! He has a sunken living room and I had forgotten! I went off balance, tumbling into the gate and onto the floor, knocking over a great pile of boxes they had stacked there, since they had just moved. Within a few short hours I had a horrible, swollen, hot, hurting bruise on my thigh! Being the empiricist I am, I decided to use only the elder bark salve on the bruise and document the progression of recovery. This photo is the second day after injury
bruise day 3 The pain and swelling had already gone down considerably and I was noting that this bruise never became as horrible as bruises usually do on my fair skin.
Bruise day 6. Amazing how the whole center of the bruise has became perfectly clear! The anti inflammatory properties had taken care of any pain completely.

bruise day 6
Bruise day 9
bruise day 9
I think a factor on the fact there is still darkish areas, is I had trouble reaching those places and didn’t apply it as well. But still, remarkable, don’t you think?
Bruise day 13
bruise day 13Note all the perfectly clear skin! I was quite diligent to reach the hard to reach places and by the 15th day, there was absolutely no sign I had ever had an injury! Now I don’t know about you, but a bruise of this sort would have gone through a rainbow of colors during the healing process untreated and also would have been with me for well over a month. Truthfully, with my very fair skin, I would have seen it for closer to 6 weeks or longer without treatment.
So, I used the elder bark salve and have proven to myself that it is anti inflammatory and an amazing discutient. ( I am trying to figure out whether the word deobstruent would be appropriate also. A deobstruent herb is one that removes obstructions and allows the bodies fluids to flow. I am thinking yes. Any thoughts on this from my herbie friends would be appreciated.)As a side benefit of my treatment, I had a spider vein near this area, and I am continuing to experiment, but I am seeing it fade also. I will continue experiments with that aspect and start taking pictures, so I might have some adds about that to share with you in the future:)
Huge thanks to my mentor Sarah for teaching me about elder bark. Another usage for our wonderful elder tree with its myriad of miracle helping qualities!!
For those of you unfamiliar with elder and are trying to identify it in your local foraging area, I created this post. I know I will be harvesting more bark and making a lot of salve to keep on hand in my apothecary!
Herbal and Honey Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Homemade Health by Anke Bialas – Free (for a few days) ebook for Your Kindle!

homemade health
This is book three in Anke Bialas’ Herbology at Home Series.  What really speaks to me, in this book, is the fact that it helps show us that herbal home medicine making is a craft that has been practiced for eons and it is accessible and practical for all of us. Through the ages people have been using common culinary herbs not only for flavoring food, but also for the medicinal qualities of these plants. Anyone can tend themselves or their loved ones with some of the everyday complaints we humans are prone to, with the help of these herbs. Homemade Health will help you learn how to create remedies for forty three different health ailments using herbs you probably already have in your larder or growing in your kitchen garden. I will share this, I have been making my own remedies for quite awhile now, and I still found lots of new information in this book! Anke has drawn upon the herbal knowledge her paternal grandmother passed down to her and I thank her so much for sharing with us, through this book!
There is a section with the healing properties of some common culinary herbs, over 160 remedy recipes, tips for when to harvest and how to preserve the herbs, easy to follow directions for preparing base remedies, such as creams, ointments, syrups, tinctures and more.
Anke’s goal of her Herbology at Home Series, is to help us realize that each and every one of us have the ability to help support and tend some of our own health issues, (or prevent them), right at our own fingertips. We don’t have to be doctors, herbalists, great gardeners, or chemists! With the help of her tips, ideas, suggestions we can start using common culinary herbs right in our own kitchens to make our own homemade health:) These are home remedies your grandmother knew. Simple and effective treatments right from your own pantry.

Now, Anke has generously offered a chance for us to dowload this book in ebook form to our kindle or other favorite device for free for a few days! If you don’t have a kindle, you can download one for your computer or mac for free on amazon. You can also download it to many smartphones and tablets too. Just follow the link to see all the ways Amazon has for you to take of advantage of Anke’s offer!!
Honey and Herbal Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx

Monday, August 20, 2012

Beauty Gone Wild! Free for your Kindle or other device

If you hurry you can download for free Diane Kidman’s Beauty Gone Wild! Herbal Recipes for Gorgeous Hair and Skin. Diane’s book Herbs Gone Wild was so fabulous with great, easy ideas and instructions, I am sure this will be just as good! If you don’t have a Kindle, Amazon has for free a spot to get a PC or Mac computer edition right here. Better hurry as these free editions aren’t offered for long!
beauty gone wild
Herbal and Honey Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Free Beekeeping eBooks for your Kindle or other Device

Amazon has several free beekeeping  ebooks for you kindle or other device right now. If you don’t have a kindle you can download one for free for your pc from Amazon. They offer one for your mac , plus they also have apps for your smartphones, tables, and cloud reader
Mysteries of Bee-Keeping Explained by Moses Quinby
The Beekeeper’s Digest: Recipes and Formulas by Deborah Dolen
Bee Hunting by John Ready Lockard
The Life of the Bee by Maurice Maeterlinck
These ebooks usually have a limited time where they are offered for free, so you should hurry to get the ones you want!
peacebees                (photo from Suburban Stone Age)
Herbal and Honey Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Lughnasadh, Lamma, Lunasda – Celebrate the Beginning of the Harvest with the Pooka Pages!

In the Northern Hemisphere, the first grains and fruits are being harvested and it is a time of celebration. Today’s county fairs harken back to these olden celebrations. Mother Earth is giving birth to the first fruits of her labor and it is time to celebrate!
The Lughnasadh issue of the Pooka Pages is ready. There are lots of wonderful stories, crafts, recipes and ideas to share with your young ones to learn about and celebrate this season.
In this Issue 
Storybook Chair- Weeds & Magic by Lora
Book of Shadows – Spell for an Ailing Plant by Lora
Kitchen Witch – Cantaloupe Soup & Blueberry Cookies
The Goddess’s First Aid Kit by Evelien Roos
Lotions & Potions by Sally & Connall Echternach
Coloring Page – Lughnasadh Pentacle by Nathalie Dussault
WitchCrafts – PomPom Dragon by White Stag
Make a Corn Dolly by Hummingbird
Make a Natural Orange Candle by Lora
Scents & Stones by Wendy Fischer
Rupert Learns More About Lammas by Kyrja
Coloring Page – Lughnasadh Banner by Amara Karuna & Nathalie Dussault 
Pooka’s Lesson – Circles by Lora
Letter from Scotland by FionaTinker
Lammas & the Little Red Hen by Deanna Anderson
Coloring Page – Little Red Hen from Clipart
Letters to Pooka by Wendy Fischer
Word Search – Foods of Lughnasadh by Linde Craig-Moore

Here is the link so go enjoy this issue! I have harvested apricots so far and elderberries, pears and apples are next:)
Sorry I haven’t been blogging lately, or visiting your blogs, my friends. The grandchildren have just been keeping me too busy this summer having summertime fun! Big herbal and honey hugs to all of you!! xxx

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Remarkable Healing Properties of Pumpkin Seed

The Remarkable Healing Properties of Pumpkin Seed

Sayer Ji of, has shared oh so many ways, that incorporating pumpkin seeds into our diets, may be of benefit. From hot flashes, insomnia, blood pressure issues, arthritis, to anxiety and many other health issues, Sayer shares research about the health benefits of pumpkin seed. This is one of my number one go to sites when researching folks, and if you haven't checked it out, you should:)

                                     photo courtesy WikiMedia Commons

Pumpkin seeds can easily be added to the diet.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Scoop out an organically raised pumpkin. Rinse the seeds well, making sure to remove all flesh, and then dry on paper towels for several hours. Preheat your oven to a low setting (around 250 to 275). Put the dried pumpkin seeds in a bowl which has a little good quality olive oil in it, and toss the seeds to coat well. Drain and spread the seeds on a baking sheet and sprinkle your favorite seasoning on them. Sea salt, cinnamon, paprika, or any combination of seasonings/spices that sounds good to you! Bake around 30 to 40 minutes, tossing them every so often and watching closely so they don't burn. Cool and enjoy!

Here are some other recipes that use pumpkin seeds! There are many others on that site and around the web:)
Candied Pepitas
Cinnamon Pumpkin Seed Brittle
Pepita Roasted Tomatillo Dip

I personally like roasted pumpkin seeds in pesto. Just zip into your food processor and add to your favorite pesto recipe. Most folks prefer basil, but I adore parsley pesto:)

Herbal and Honey Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx

Monday, July 2, 2012

Springfield Sanctuary Celebrating Herbs Festival!

Oh how I wish I could be at this event!
  Springfield Sanctuary Celebrating Herbs Festival
by kind permission of Pryce & Marjorie Watkins, Wynyards Farm, Upper Slaughter, Glos, GL54 2JR)
7-9 September 2012
A fun weekend for all the family!
Herbal Medicine
Keynote Speaker: Christopher Hedley
Ali English: Making your own Tonic Wines
Charlie Farrow: Herbal Fumigants
Sarah Firnberg: Herbs for the endocrine system
Lucinda Warner: Herbs for the digestion
Growing Herbs
Debs Cook: Herbal First Aid for the Garden
Herb Walks
Wild Foods, Poisonous Plants & Medicinal Herbs
Sky Symphony Kite Display Team
Music, Stories, Craft stalls
& much, much more!
Cost: By donation (suggested £40 w/end, £20/day)
Further details: Contact 0121 707 8269 or 07920145639 or
Or visit
I hope many of my friends will be able to attend! Mark your calendars, (especially my UK friends! This is worth traveling for:) )
Herbal and Honey Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages

Thursday, June 28, 2012

And the winners are…

Thank you to all who entered the recent contests associated with Anke Bialas’ virtual book tour, for her new book Homemade Health! I loved reading your comments!

The winner of the rose cream is Ti Bo

The winner of the signed copy of Homemade Health is Chantelle

Please email me your address ladies, at and I will get them in the mail to you right away! (Of course the word at should be the sign for at in that address. Must keep those robot spammers from having too easy of a time! lol )


Herbal and Honey Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cat and Duck Updates plus some Fishing!

Well in animal news, the kittens have turned one year old! Happy Birthday to Lilac, Mugwort, Earl Jr., and Cloudpaw! This is Mama Peppermint
mamapeppermint Remember when I found her and all the herbal helpers I used to help her get well from all her dog bite injuries? It makes my heart sing to see her so happy, healthy and gorgeous these days:) Mugwort is hanging out with some herbie books and Comfrey Fairy
mugwortoneyearold Lilac was sleeping on the back of the sofa, so this is her “I just woke up” look!
lilaconeyearold Cloudpaw was so tiny for so long, and also had some medical problems I helped with herbals. He is a fine, healthy fellow now!

He doesn’t look like it in this picture, but Earl Jr. is a huge kitten! I call him Mr. Pink Nose all the time:) lol!
earljroneyearold  We have a stray mama cat and her 3 kittens living in the gardens now :( I am trying to tame them down enough to even touch. This picture was taken through the window
At least I thought there were three kittens. This morning I saw the fourth! Yikes! Another instance where someone down the line didn’t tend their cat(s) properly, and now I must.. sigh…
Other pet news, Max and Ruby were parents again. This time 15 ducklings. Luckily, we have found homes for all the little ones
GEDC7644 Been super busy between the granchildren out of school for the summer and trying to do a little spruce up around here. This freshly painted garage wall in the next picture took me a couple of days. The house next door to us is one of our rentals, and its garage wall facing my gardens was terrible looking, so I tackled that over several days.
GEDC8117 Looks so much cleaner! In that photo our a rose of sharon, elderberry, joe pye weed, pleurisy root, feverfew, milkweed, valerian, and daylilies. Maybe click to enlarge to see better:)
Been scraping and getting ready to paint two more of those metal chairs and one metal double glider. Redid an old metal milk can, but forgot to take a picture of that. Going to use it as a table between the two finished chairs. In the queue, is scraping and repainting some windows… seems it is a painting kind of year! Do you like the color I did the swing in?
GEDC8113 In this side garden are lemon verbena, pineapple sage, 4 roses, red clover, rose of sharon, daylilies, comfrey, lemon grass, beebalm, echinacea, nasturiums, primrose, hollyhocks and more. I will have to do just a plant post soon:)
We did take time to do some jug fishing recently with brother Eric. Jug fishing is fun. You just tie a line onto a jug that will float and throw it out. You will see it take off when a fish hits it
Do remember I have two giveaway drawings going until the 27th. One on the guest post by Anke Bialas, on making a Stillroom book, and the other on my book review of Homemade Health!
Herbal and Honey Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottagesxx

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Stillroom Book – guest post by Anke Bialas (and a giveaway drawing)

Last year I wrote a post on making a still room book to preserve family herbal traditions for future generations. It generated a lot of interest and Leslie liked the idea so much she asked me to write about the book that I ended up making for my family.
Firstly, what is a still room?
“During medieval times, the lady of the house was responsible for tending the sick and seeing that the kitchens were stocked sufficiently. Using the model of Roman and Greek times, special rooms were set aside in castles and manors to prepare medicines and distillations. The lady of the house oversaw the functions of the room, which grew to include brewing beer, alcohol and wine, creating cosmetics, preserving food, and mixing household cleaning agents. A still room might also serve as a pantry, larder, storeroom, or infirmary where the sick or injured could be treated.
It was the responsibility of mothers to teach their daughters practical household skills to prepare them to assume the responsibility of their own home. Over time, the still room became the responsibility of other relatives or household servants.” Source:

Not everyone had huge estates or servants, but even humble homes had an area where these things were prepared. The still room book therefore, is where information like recipes, formulas, harvests and purchases were recorded. Also, major family or historical events may make it into a still room book.
As I already mentioned, last year I made my own book which I called “The Catesby Household Journal – 2011”. Catchy, right?
You can make books yourself which would make for a wonderful heirloom piece, but in my case I took advantage of a freebie deal on and had a hardcover book printed to my design instead.
I started off with the family crest of my husband’s family (so that one doesn’t get lost down the track), then I added a very small family tree of just this branch of the family, in Australia.


Then follows about 4 pages of ruled paper to add family births, deaths and marriages.
Since this is meant to be a practical book, but also a hand-me-down I wanted to make sure it had information that I needed to keep have on hand in the kitchen but also a bit of a time capsule that might be of interest to future generations. Which is why the next few pages had basic herb info, ancient measurements converted to modern measurements, pictures of old world kitchen gardens and still rooms that I like and …speaking of conversions, two pages of metric conversions of pretty much everything that’s convertible
After all that there are about 150 blank, ruled paper to record
· Recipes
· how they worked
· what needed changing
· how did it taste?
· Experiments with dosage
· treatment successes
· garden successes
· gardening flops
· craft ideas
· patterns
Anything that takes place in your still room (kitchen) has a place in your still room book. My personal motivation was, what would I give to find a book like this, kept by my grandmother, or even her grandmother….wow. What would I find in there? Stains… would definitely have stains to show that it was actually used. And hand writing! Maybe even different hand writing from different generations, how cool would that be?
Now, I realize this isn’t the herbiest post I have ever written, but I think it is the perfect way to preserve your herbal ways.
Raised with herbal traditions passed down by her grandmother in her native country Germany, Anke Bialas has expanded her knowledge and application of herbs in unconventional ways, saying "Even a little bit of nature goes a long way."
With a firm believe that herbal health can fit into even the most conventional home, she makes all things herbal appeal to everyone.
Anke is known for her practical, everyday approach to herbal health which led to her writing the Herbology At Home series of guides. These guides provide a convenient reference for both the seasoned novice and those new to herbs and natural health.
Visit Anke Bialas at:

I want to thank Anke so very much for allowing me to be a part of her virtual book tour for her newest book in her Herbology at Home book series, Homemade Health. And also thank her so much for sharing her stillroom book with us! It looks fabulous Anke! What a family treasure this will be for future generations! And how handy to have all your lovely recipes and information in such a beautiful book for your own use:)
I would like to offer my readers a chance to win a signed copy of Anke’s new book, Homemade Health. All you have to do is comment on this post! The drawing will be open until June 27th. which is the last day of the virtual book tour:)
Herbal and Honey Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Personal Herbalism –UK Herbarium Blog Party

The lovely Ali English, of Eldrum Musings blog, is hosting this month’s party. Thank you Ali!
My form of practicing herbalism is very personal indeed. Those of you who follow this blog know, I do very little that doesn’t involve my grandchildren. It has been my greatest joy in life to help guide them down the herbal/wild foraging/gardening/ nature loving path, and I hope these early adventures will give them a life time of joy, and good health!
Lily (age 7) and Dylan (age 4) helping make this years elderflower cordial
Almost everyday we explore together, our world. We take walks and it is a great joy to hear the children naming so many plants and whether they are edible or we can use them to help us stay healthy or feel better if we don’t feel so good.
Dylan and his chickweed garden
My own herbal journey started rather late in life. The year my third child was born, and I turned 21,  Jean Auel wrote the book Clan of the Cave Bear. The setting is 30, 000 years ago and throughout this well researched book, there are many references to plants as both food and medicine. I was intrigued! I was taught while a young girl, growing up on a Midwest farm, some of our local wild edible plants and mushrooms, but I had nothing in my background about using plants as medicine. Herbalism was just beginning a resurgence her in the US, and even though we were starting to have some stores that carried some herbal teas and such, there was really no one in my area to help me learn more… I asked around our town if there was any of the older folks known for using plants as medicine, and got dribs and drabs of info, but no one alive to talk to…. Fast forward to my forties and I had just learned about Healing Touch, which is similar to Reiki,  and had began taking weekend classes to learn it. My mother had been diagnoses with cancer and I became a caregiver. Any of you who have been there know what a soul wrenching experience it is to tend a loved one with a serious illness, especially one that ends in death.  My brother Eric and  I discovered the China Bayles mystery series of books by Susan Wittig Albert. This series of books is centered around the lead character, China Bayles, and her herb shop. During this time of sorrow, and feelings of helplessness, Susan rekindled my intrigue for herbal medicine, and my mother’s illness provided the fuel. I also credit Susan with saving our sanity during this time, as there is no better medicine for sorrow than to be looking in a forward direction, and her China Bayles books gave me a new learning direction.. herbalism.
Since then, I have weaved the world’s of being a grandmother, a beekeeper, healing touch practitioner, and herbologist into my daily life. I do lots of reading of some of the great herbalist’s and ethnobotanist’s books, essays, and other shares. I have networked with many lovely, sharing herbalist around the world and learn daily. I meditate with the plants and use my senses I refined through learning Healing Touch to pick up the vibrations of my green allies and learn from them. I experiment, taste, touch, smell, look, look closer, and watch the changes through the seasons. Whereas I feel many times I was born in the wrong century, I am very grateful to having been born during a time when I can easily communicate with my herbalist friends to ask questions, compare ideas, and to learn from. I am grateful to online book sellers where I have been able to buy books that have explained to me and taught me much of the historic, time honored uses of plants. If I would have had all these more modern means of learning back in my early twenties, I would have been able to share these things with my own children then! Now, I have to smile as I watch my grandchildren teach them :)
My personal herbalism is all about taking back my herbal heritage I earned as a human on this planet and sharing it with my grandchildren, or anyone else who cares to learn with me. And using this knowledge to help steward our planet, and help keep healthy, help with diseases or injuries myself, my loved ones, or my friends and pets.
Lily playing animal vet. I so enjoyed listening to her play this game with Dylan. They used elderflower, linden flower, peppermint, plantain and yarrow during this game:)
Dylan harvesting dandelions
By the way, it is not too late to get in on the drawing for a jar of my rose cream. Just follow this link to read my review of Anke Biala's new book Homemade Health and leave a comment before the 27th!
Herbal and Honey Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Litha Issue of the Pooka Pages is Ready!

This issue is jam packed with crafts, activities, gardening, stories, herbal first aid, and herbal cooking and other fun things, folks! Lot’s of ways to enjoy and celebrate Midsummer Eve :)
In this Issue:
the Storybook Chair – Pooka’s Midsummer Picnic by Lora Craig-Gaddis
Coloring Page – Litha Pentacle by Nathalie Dussault (original artist unknown)
Little Book of Shadows – Summer Solstice Ritual by Ashley Sears
The Goddess’s First Aid Kit by Evelien Roos
The Dandelion Story by Evelien Roos
Seed Blessing Ritual by Deanna Anderson 
Make a Mini-Green House by Mathew Two-Shoes
Coloring Page – Fairy Flyers (Illustration from an old book)
A Letter from Scotland by Fiona Tinker
Little Kitchen Witch – Fairy Candy by Leslie Postin
Coloring Page – Litha Banner by Nathalie Dussault (original art by Amara Karuna)
Lotions & Potions – Midsummer Fairy Potion by Suzanne & Connal 
WitchCrafts – Moon Phase Plaques by Rayne Storm
Story – Leah’s Lesson in Balance by Bridget Di Luzio
Short Story – Pooka’s Post Office Surprise by Lora Craig-Gaddis
Letters to Pooka by Wendy Fischer (and Pooka)
That’s right, your truly contributed to this issue! Pooka and I went to the herb garden and harvested some flowers and leaves for making Fairy Candy!
Enjoy this Litha issue!
Honey and Herbal Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Book Review- Homemade Health (and a giveaway chance)

This is book three in Anke Bialas’ Herbology at Home Series.  What really speaks to me, in this book, is the fact that it helps show us that herbal home medicine making is a craft that has been practiced for eons and it is accessible and practical for all of us. Through the ages people have been using common culinary herbs not only for flavoring food, but also for the medicinal qualities of these plants. Anyone can tend themselves or their loved ones with some of the everyday complaints we humans are prone to, with the help of these herbs. Homemade Health will help you learn how to create remedies for forty three different health ailments using herbs you probably already have in your larder or growing in your kitchen garden. I will share this, I have been making my own remedies for quite awhile now, and I still found lots of new information in this book! Anke has drawn upon the herbal knowledge her paternal grandmother passed down to her and I thank her so much for sharing with us, through this book!
There is a section with the healing properties of some common culinary herbs, over 160 remedy recipes, tips for when to harvest and how to preserve the herbs, easy to follow directions for preparing base remedies, such as creams, ointments, syrups, tinctures and more.
Anke’s goal of her Herbology at Home Series, is to help us realize that each and every one of us have the ability to help support and tend some of our own health issues, (or prevent them), right at our own fingertips. We don’t have to be doctors, herbalists, great gardeners, or chemists! With the help of her tips, ideas, suggestions we can start using common culinary herbs right in our own kitchens to make our own homemade health:) These are home remedies your grandmother knew. Simple and effective treatments right from your own pantry.
In celebration of the honor of being part of this virtual book tour, I would like to offer my readers a chance to win a jar of my rose cream. You will get several chances to win if you do each of these things.
1- Leave me a comment. If your comment also includes a family recipe for homemade health, you will get two chances instead of one.
2- Like Herbology on Facebook and come back and tell me you did so.
3- Sign up for Anke’s newsletter on her site, Herbology, and leave me a comment that you did so
4- Look around the Herbology site, come back and leave me a comment about what tip, recipe or article you especially liked there.
There you go! An opportunity to have your name in the drawing for the rose cream not once, but 5 times! I am leaving this contest open until the end of Anke’s Homemade Health Virtual Book Tour, which ends on the 27th of June. I will announce the winner on the 28th. Make sure and visit the other blogs on the tour for more giveaways! The tour includes question and answer sessions, a radio interview, posts about wild foods, herbs for pets, starting on an herbal health journey, herbal cleaners and more! On the 22nd of June make sure and come back and visit here at Comfrey Cottages where Anke will do a guest blog post about making your own Stillroom book – recording herbal traditions for future generations! I am so excited about this folks, as I have long thought to start a stillroom book, and Anke will help us all get started making our own with her ideas, and suggestions! On that day, I will be hosting a giveaway chance for a signed copy of her book, Homemade Health!
Herbal and Honey Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx

Monday, June 4, 2012

You Got to Enter to Win!

Anke Bialas, owner of Herbology website, and author of her newest book in the Herbology at Home series, Homemade Health, is doing a virtual book tour this month. I will be doing a book review on Friday, (with a giveaway chance at an herbal goodie), and Anke will be my guest host, here at Comfrey Cottages blog , June 22nd on the topic of making a Stillroom book, recording herbal traditions for future generations! I will also host a giveaway chance to all who comment on my blog that day, for a signed copy of Homemade Health. So mark your calendars and be sure and visit Comfrey Cottages for these events!

Tomorrow, Renee’, of the Accidental Hippy blog, is hosting Anke on the subject of Herbal Cleaners. You won’t want to miss that folks! Renee’ is also giving us a chance to win a signed copy of Homemade Health! You got to enter to win, so follow the link to sign up for your chance to win this amazing book! And do visit The Accidental Hippy tomorrow to learn more on making herbal cleaners.



Herbal and Honey Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages! xx

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Homemade Health Virtual Blog Tour

homemade health
I just received my reviewers copy of Homemade Health by my dear friend Anke Bialas and it is fabulous folks! A must have for any herbal bookshelf. I will be giving you a review on June 8th, (with a little herbal giveaway for those of you who comment). On June 22nd, Anke will do a guest blog here on making a still room book for you and your future generations! I can’t tell you how excited I am about it! I will be drawing a name from those of you who comment on that day for a free copy of this wonderful new book, Homemade Health. Follow this link to find the other places on the net who are also hosting this virtual book tour. They include more reviews, question and answer posts, and a radio interview, and a book signing event!
Sorry I haven’t been blogging lately folks. Been very busy working with the bees, creating new herb garden spaces and sprucing up the gardens here at Comfrey Cottages! Besides, the children are out of school for the summer, so been a bit busy with them.
One project has been to refinish some old, rusted, beat up metal lawn furniture I found/bought several years back. I still have two chairs and a double glider to finish but here is the two I have done
I will catch up with you all soon! In the meantime, Amazon is now selling Anke’s book, Homemade Health, and I suggest you get over there and get your copy today!
Herbal and Honey hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Goodreads Book Giveaway – Homemade Health by Anke Bialas

My dear friend Anke Bialas, author of Homemade Health, Making Herbal Remedies and owner of Herbology, is giving away 5 copies of her new book, Homemade Health on Good Reads! Pop on over and enter to win!
homemade health
Homemade Health is a collection of home remedies straight from a time, not so long ago, when people went to their garden or kitchen pantry before going to a doctor.
Some tried and true, some quirky, but all based on natural remedies your grandmother knew and most likely used on a regular basis.
  • Healing properties of common culinary herbs
  • 43 common ailments
  • 160+ remedies with recipes
  • Common & botanical names
  • Harvesting & preserving
  • Making herbal remedies at home
Herbal traditions run in Anke Bialas' blood. She spent her childhood learning traditional Germanic herb lore from her paternal grandmother, who learned from her own mother before her. Anke now lives in Brisbane, Australia with her husband and 3 boys where she continues to teach about herb use on, reconnecting people with old world health traditions. Anke focuses on simple, effective remedies with an emphasis on common sense and safety.
The book is available for pre order on Amazon also!
Herbal and Honey Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Healing Herbs and Spice – Free for your kindle!

Hurry why the offer is free! Delivered to your kindle, or Amazon’s free kindle for your pc ( a free download). Follow this link! If you don't own a kindle go to this page and download a free kindle for you pc, mac, or other device:)
This looks like an amazing book and offer, folks. The recipes sound delicious! Food as medicine is the best:)
Don’t these sound amazing?
(from the amazon page)
Here Are Just A Few Of The Recipes You Will Find Inside:
Healthy Banana Spice Muffins
Anise Squash Soup
Lemon Caraway Broccoli
Cardamom Chicken Stew
Celery Seed Dressing
Cashew Cilantro Couscous
Cinnamon Maple Squash
Fennel Cookies
Roasted Garlic Soup
healthy Ginger Cookies
Horseradish Cheese & Dill Omelet
Microwave Lemon Balm Pudding
Licorice Root Tea
Baked Squash And Apples
Roasted Shrimp With Marjoram
Mint & Ginger Haddock
Mustard Potato Salad
Cauliflower Nutmeg Soup
Spicy Banana Bread
Caramelized Onion Quiche
Lemon Garlic Chicken with Oregano
Paprika BBQ Rub
Lemon Rosemary Salmon
Spicy Chocolate Cookies
Saffron Rice
Slow Cooker Pork and Apples
Savory Green Beans
Tarragon Cranberry Chicken Salad
Lemon Thyme Rice
Butternut Squash and Vanilla Bean Soup
Herbal and Honey Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xxx

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

4th Bee Swarm, Rose Cutting Update and Birthdays!

It seems the honey worked well as the rooting medium I talked about earlier. It feels as if it is rooting and we have a bloom!
GEDC7848a And look to the right. I found an European Ginger plant at a garden club sale. Anyone want to tell me about the care, growing and uses of this plant, I would appreciate it:)
Last night we had a joint birthday party for my daughter Michelle, whose birthday was Saturday, and my grandson Breven, whose birthday was yesterday. He turned 11. Happy Birthday Breven! I love you! Sorry the pictures didn’t turn out too good:(
GEDC7827a I made Michelle’s cake in the shape of a daisy, her favorite flower
GEDC7826 Last night my husband Gerald brought me home flowers from a Catalpa tree! Aren’t they gorgeous? And heavenly scented! How sweet he is!
And today, I got a phone call about another swarm. This gentleman took my camera and took some pictures of me catching it! Gerald was home so he helped me by bringing the big ladder and steadying it for me
And my hubby helping me! Glad he held the ladder as it was the tall one!
gerald When I got the call to retrieve this swarm, I went to the bee house to get my equipment together and I had noticed that the 2nd swarm I caught, hive looked very quiet, so I suited up and checked and sure enough, they had left! Guess they weren’t happy at Comfrey Cottages! lol! Worked out fine though, as I just hived this one in their box. Hopefully they will like it here. The first swarm is still industrious and seems quite settled, and Eric says the third swarm we hived seems happy at his house. Gotta run now. Someone called about another swarm while I was creating this post!
Herbal and Honey Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xxx