Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bee Smokers in History – A Documentary Video with Paul Jackson

I thought since I had just written about using herbal marc/leftover for the bee smoker, some of you might be interested in this video about the history of bee smokers.

Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xxx

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

If I Were Little As A Bee


If I were little as a bee,

I’d let him fly away with me--

If he were willing.

I’d sit right on his back, and I

Would say”Get up,” and off we’d fly:

It would be thrilling!

I’d steer him up above the trees,

And race with every little breeze,

And beat them quickly.

I’d dip, and toss, and rise, and fall

Where vines, and flowers, near the wall,

Grew tall and thickly.

I’d chase the thoughtless butterfly

As he drank dew; then hurry by

As lightening passes.

And, when I though it right and best, I’d give my bumblebee a rest

On rocking grasses.

I’d find where fairy people live, And when I found them, I would give

Them cordial greetings.

I’d tell the fairies all I knew,

And they would tell me secrets, too,

At secret meetings.

I think it might be just as well

If you would promise not to tell

What I have told you;

For bumblebees and fairy folk

Are sad if talked of as a joke;

Besides, they’d scold you.

But, if you want to, you may try

To be as small and light as I,

And go a-flying.

At first, perhaps, you cannot see

The way to ride a bumblebee;

But keep on trying.

by Jane Tate

I found this picture and poem framed in an antique shop years ago. I can’t find out information about Jane Tate, and I don’t know if she did the illustration. Anyone have any information about this, I would love to know! You see, I do believe I see little fairies riding bumblebees around Comfrey Cottages kitchen occasionally, if I don’t close the door quick enough when I come in! Forgive the blur to the picture, but they are certainly fast!



I do believe in Fairies, do you?

Big hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx

Monday, February 27, 2012

Herbal Smoke for the Bees

Butter Powered Bicycle is hosting a month long blog party with the theme of smoke at her blog site, Hunger and Thirst. This is my contribution to the party:)

One day it struck me that instead of hauling my herbal leftovers outside to compost, maybe they would make good bee smoker fuel. The left over stems and not so nice leaves from garbling like Lily is doing in this photo.


Tea balls full of herbal leaves and strained bags of the remnants/marcs of long infusions, decoctions, poultices, and  from alcohol tinctures are all hung on my little mini clothes line hanging over the sink, to dry thoroughly.


The leftover from infused oils is awesome as it really helps to get the fire going quick in the smoker. I often times save these herbal marcs in the freezer and reuse as boo boo helpers with the children, but then off to the smoker bag they go. This is some oil infused rose petal which always smells beautiful!


I sorted through this bag I have in the house from the past month and found I have saved in it all these different plant/herb leftovers/marc. Some from when I did my bi yearly clean out of the apothecary of things that just aren’t up to snuff anymore. In it I found cottonwood bark, sassafras roots, calendula, lemon balm, yellow dock, marshmallow, joe pye weed, mints, bee balm, regular old black Lipton tea bags which my hubby insists is the best:), elder berry and bark and some undefined dried up bits from the tea balls. Quite a gorgeous smell! I move it out to the capped bucket I keep in the bee house when I fill this bag up, so who knows what all is in that!


When my brother Eric and I first started keeping bees about 6 years ago, we did as we were taught and used rotted twines, old dried tree leaves, and cedar chips to fuel our bee smokers. We were never happy at the difficulty of getting it lit, nor with the acrid scent of the smoke. Obnoxious really, and often times we just gave up and worked the bees without it,half way through, as we would be headachy from it, the bees just seemed more agitated and the damn thing kept going out. Using these leftover herbal and wild foraged bits, the smoke is cooler, sweeter smelling, and the bees seem calmer during the whole process. We have yet to use a material that smelled nasty like the old materials we used. I can’t tell you definitively of having a preference for a certain herb or plant yet, as you can see, I just mix it all together. I will keep you posted though if I run across something that I can pin point as being a big no no or really being the best.


my buddy Ron and I last year by my hives.


Big Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx

Friday, February 24, 2012

Peppermint and her kittens update!

The kittens are now eight months old! This has been such an experience, deciding to keep all four of the kittens. An experience that has taught me so much about the interactions of mother cats with their young. We read or see on tv or videos how the large cat mothers usually keep their young with them for a year or longer. Hunting for and teaching them all the things they will need to know to fend for themselves when grown. From this experience I have seen an amazing dynamic between domestic cats and their young, that many might not be aware of. It really reinforced my decision to not break up the family. It also reinforced my personal soapbox rant to please spay and neuter your animals. You might just think to yourself, well I will just give away the kittens. Easier said than done for one thing, and for another, a grave injustice to both the mother and the kittens. You see, their mother just doesn’t nurse them 6 weeks and is done with them. I have found quite the opposite to be true…


still nursing at three months old


another where at three months of age, mama Peppermint would still call to them to come nurse.

and now eight months old, still the occasional suckle


They hang out and sleep all together….



Mama Peppermint and Lilac (note the toy mouse. more about it in a moment)


they sleep with the other cats. This is big Earl and Little Earl (EJ for short). Not father and son, but enough alike in looks and temperment, you would think so!


Poor little Lilac got very ill from a scratch her brother Mugwort gave her while playing. She just hugged the heater vent and our full figured gal Wisteria moved right on the blanket with her, mothering her and adding her warmth. Lilac is all recovered now


her brother EJ comforted her too.



Earl Jr. took a toy kitten out of the toy box and moved it into this box to play with


remember I said keep an eye out for the mouse?


Peppermint packs this mouse with her everywhere! I mean constantly all over the house, from the basement to every other space, this mouse is thrown, tossed, and carried! She will deliberately put it in hard to reach places, like around chair legs and places, to make it harder to “hunt”. No wonder her kittens raid the toy box for soft toys that they pack around also! She is “hiding” it under the legs of this stool in this photo.


a pile of kittens, Dandelion and Hyacith


we get a hoot out of watching EJ watch tv. If we have on a nature show with other animals, he parks right in front and just is mesmerized!


So Comfrey Cottage increased its cat population by five last year. Nothing we set out to do, but finding and little Peppermint and deciding to keep her kittens also is a decision we will never regret. We love them. We were able to have them spayed and neutered from a wonderful program the Animal Protection League offered, which was hosted by our local Humane Society. The price was ridiculously low and the cats were well treated and cared for. Just a side note, Peppermint did not go into heat until the kittens were 7 months old. I suppose being able to nurse so long helped delay it, but again, female cats usually have two litters of kittens a year. Spay and neuter your animals, please! Financial help is available if you just will ask your local vet or animal shelter, there is often times very low cost programs and some vets around our town even offer a yearly lottery and the winners (usually over a dozen) get the service for free! My daughters work even had one lady take the initiative to put a can up asking for donations to help her vet her animal. I was delighted when I heard of it and eagerly made a contribution also. Lets all work together to help all animals to be wanted and have homes, it starts with taking responsibility. Ok, off my soapbox.



Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xxx

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

HerbCraft Spring eCamp is Open for Registration! Come on! Let’s go camping together! :)


Latisha has had a life change plan and is planning on moving this May. Instead of cancelling the eCamp, she has made some changes. This is what she has shared:

HerbCraft eCamp is now open for registration!! I am so excited to share this with you! This little idea that popped up in my head like a weed in the garden, just won’t go away no matter what excuses I throw at it. So instead of canceling the eCamp, I’ve changed it up a bit and will only be doing three weeks instead of six for this first go round. Getting ready to move has been a little more time consuming than I anticipated. I almost decided to cancel and wait for the fall, but I really just want to jump in and try it. It’s the best method for me.  Here’s a snapshot of what we will be playing with. I’d love to see you there!

Week 1: One Magic Moment in a Cup

  • Learn the difference between powerful medicinal teas and gentle teas brewed for healing pleasure
  • Go beyond your beverage as we explore other non-drinking ways to use tea for healing
  • Play with the spirit of tea and learn to read your leaves like the tarot
  • Engage your sense of sight and develop a childlike experience with your nature spot beginning to form a lasting relationship to a outdoor place close to home with a special herbcraft

Week 2: Healing Herbal Oils

  • Learn to make amazing herbal infused oils in any kitchen with fancy as well as very basic tools
  • Go beyond massage and skin remedies as we discover additional ways to use healing herbal oils effectively for a variety of ailments
  • Play with the spirit of oils and learn about creating blends for ritual and mood
  • Engage your sense of touch as we deepen the relationship to your nature spot by creating a sensual herbcraft

Week 3: Working with Flower Essence

  • Learn the sacred yet simple art of making flower essences using the plants nearest you
  • Go beyond the dropper and discover new ways to take and use your essence
  • Play with the spirit of flower essence and learn about creating spiritual baths for clarity and healing
  • Engage your intuition by creating a delicate artful herbcraft in your nature spot

Anyone who enrolls in this mini camp is invited to come back in the fall and enroll in the full six week course for only $35. You will receive a refresher on the first three weeks which will be similar material, as well as the additional medicine making and rechilding adventures added in the last three weeks.

This mini ecamp will run from March 19th through April 8th, 2012. I hope I see lots of my friends there! This will be a very, very special, intimate camp where we can share and learn, and support each other! Won’t you please join me?

Please sign up at this link. Hope to see many of my friends there!

Big hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xxx

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sassafras- Bark Medicine

Sarah Jean Head, of Tales of a Kitchen Herbwife, chose the theme of Bark Medicine for this months UK Herbarium blog party she is hosting. When I think of bark medicine, the first tree that comes to mind is sassafras! Sassafras is our localities spring tonic. Every April, in the small town of Ellisville, there is even a Sassafras Festival. The event is hosted in the old Opera House by one of the local civic groups, HERO. Every year my husband, brother Eric and I go and belly up for some free sassafras tea and a nice dinner, they also have. Most of the folks we are seated at long tables with are older farmer and country types and most probably have never thought about constituents or any other term herbalists use when talking about plant medicine. They just know it is a tradition handed down through all our generations, and one we learned from the local Native Americans, to in the spring, dig some Sassafras root,  and brew up some of this spicy, blood moving, blood purifying root bark tea! It actually is a decoction, as we do put the root in a pan with water and slow simmered.  I think it tastes best done at a slow simmer, keeps it sweeter, than at a strong boil, which can make it a bit bitter. It turns a nice red color and can be sweetened with a little honey or sugar and be drunk hot or cold. You can use the same bark/roots several times before they loose their flavor. Just let them dry out again or pop them in the freezer till next use.
Sassafras, Sassafras albidum is the type I am referring to in this post. There are two other types in other parts of the world. In North America, it grows in Ontario, Canada, and in the US, from Maine west to Michigan and all the states south of those states clear down to Texas and Florida. Identifying Sassafras is so easy as its scent gives it away! One of its names is Cinnamon Wood and it has been credited with having been an aid in the discovery of America! The story goes that Christopher Columbus was able to persuade his mutinous crew that land was near, by drawing their attention to the smell of sassafras fragrance on the breeze! ( “Trees and Shrubs of Massachus, 1894”). Other identifying features are its leaves. The are bright green above and downy beneath, and often three-lobed, unlobed or mitten shaped lobed! In the fall they are beautiful, ranging from red, to yellow, to pinkish even. The flowers, in early spring are sweet smelling and delicately colored a yellow green. The fruit is tiny dark purple on a red stalk. Sassafras is usually a small to medium tree about 40 foot tall, (although there are some which grow to upwards of 100 foot in other locals). It has stout, contorted spread branches. It spreads by root suckers and often forms thickets with domed crowns. The easiest way to harvest it is to dig down between two trees and take some of the root that is suckering between them. Although, sassafras is very tenacious and old farmers say if you pull up one sapling, unless you grub out every bit of root, two will grow back for each one you take! I usually find it as an understory tree in the woods or along fence rows.
 The bark on mature trees is rough, and deeply furrowed. The saplings are reddish or greenish. That might sound like lots of different tree barks, but it is the smell that really distinguishes it! In America, we associate the smell as a “root beer” smell and Sassafras was the basis for the first root beer drinks.
In the book Stalking the Wild Asparagus, Euell Gibbons wrote that Europeans first learned of Sassafras from the Spaniards, and that sassafras is a Spanish name. The Spanish parts of America traded sassafras into England where it soon became a medicinal herb of great value and sold for a high price. John Brereton,  who chronicled the 1602 trip aboard the sailing vessel Concord, with Bartholomew Gosnold, only lists the commodity price of one product that was shipped from America to England, and that was sassafras, which was selling for then handsome price of three shillings a pound!
Some common names are: Sassyfras, Ague Tree (ague is a malarial type of fever), Red Sassafras, Saxifrax, Saloop, Cinnamon Tree and Mitten Tree
Energetic Correspondences:
Flavor – pungent
Temperature – warm
Moisture – moist
Polarity- yang
Planet- Mars/Jupiter
Element - fire
Physiological Effects: alterative ( improves general health usually through stimulating, cleansing and elimination), diuretic ( increases elimination of fluid build up from the tissues, increases urine flow, reduces fluid retention, and increases kidney circulation), tonic (rejuvenating, improves the strength and tone of tissues and increases functions of the body), aromatic (stimulating to the digestive system) , diaphoretic (promotes sweating), stimulant ( increases the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, makes you feel energized, more awake) , anodyne (relieves pain), antigalactagogue (reduces breast milk and engorgement), antirheumatic (relieves the pains, stiffness and aches of the musculo-skeletal system), antiseptic (prevents infection), emmenagogue (stimulates blood flow to the pelvic area and uterus), vasodilator (relaxes the smooth muscles in the blood vessels causing them to widen)
Taking sassafras tea deters infection, destroys pathogenic microorganisms, causes release of toxins through diaphoresis and improves circulation. It has been used in the treatment of arthritis, acne, carbuncles, boils, catarrh, colds, dysentery, diarrhea, eczema, flatulence, flu, fever, gout, gonorrhea, hypertension, herpes, nephritis, measles, rheumatism, psoriasis, shingles, scrofula, skin eruptions, syphilis, stomachache and erysipelas. It can be used effectively to help painful menstruation and for the after pains of childbirth.  Interestingly, it can help sober up someone who has overindulged drinking alcohol also:)
Sassafras can be prepared as a poultice or an eye wash to relieve inflamed eyes. A poultice or linament is used for bruises, sciatica, sore muscles, swellings and rheumatism.
A wash of sassafras is helpful in treating poison oak/ivy or nettle rash.
The essential oil, diluted, can relieve toothache, when applied directly to the offending tooth , or can get rid of head lice or other skin parasites.
Herbalist Tommie Bass had this to say about sassafras
Most everybody knows about Sassafras tea. It’s perfectly easy to make. It’s the finest thing in the world for a blood tonic and to purify the blood… It’s highly recommended for a stomach tonic. I don’t think there’s anything that can beat it. It makes a good wash for the Poison Ivy and Oak. You can wash an animal in a strong tea of the roots and it will get the fleas off. “
He suggested Yellow Dock, Sarsaparilla, and Burdock as plants to use with Sassafras.
Taken hot, Sassafras tea will make you sweat, helping break a fever. Taken cold, Tommie said it will flush your liver of accumulated toxins.
Sassafras is also credited with helping you slim down, as reflected by this old song:
I got so thin on sass’frus tea
I could hide behind a straw,
Indeed I was a different man
When I left Arkansas.
Other folk remedy ways I have heard of for using sassafras is to pulverize sassafras bark with slippery elm bark, equals parts and put in a pan with enough water to  cover it and be absorbed. Put it in a gauze bag and apply to spider or insect bites.
Myself, I have used Sassafras root bark to help dissolve kidney stones. My son in law used to have terrible troubles, almost yearly with this painful condition. After he and my daughter got together, he had a flare up and was in a great deal of pain.  I had him sip on a combination tea of sassafras and marshmallow throughout the day, and he was able to easily pass the dissolved remaining stones. I asked him to sip on it for a couple more days to make sure he was cleared and he has been free of them to this day, and that was almost 4 years ago. Since then, I have had a couple of other folks try this same method, with good results each time. (disclaimer: I do not claim to be an herbalist or doctor! I am just sharing with you how I personally have used Sassafras with good results!)
Euell Gibbons suggested adding 3 tablespoons of honey, 3 tablespoons of vinegar to one quart of Sassafras Tea. Then chill it. I can tell you I do this now. It is delicious!
Sassafras Jelly (adapted from Euell’s recipe)
Dissolve 1 package of dried pectin ( I like Pomona’s Universal Pectin in jelly recipes using honey) in 2 cups of strong Sassafras tea. Bring just to a boil and then add 3 cups of good organic honey and then add a good handful of slivered Sassafras bark, peeled from the Sassafras root. Bring to a boil again, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Strain out the bark and pour the jelly into sterile jelly jars and process as usual. Alternatively, you can add 2 tablespoons of finely grated dried root bark of sassafras to the jelly and not strain it. (This is especially yummy on cinnamon toast!)
The dried and powdered leaves are used extensively in Creole cooking and is called file.
Handy non edible or medicinal uses for Sassafras:
A bag of Sassafras can be put in a with stored clothes to help deter moth damage. It is said that chickens that are allowed to roost on boards or poles made from the Sassafras tree, don’t suffer from mites.
The wood is is durable, hardwood, which doesn’t shrink much so has been prized for flooring, small boats and fences.
The essential oil (minus the safrole) of the root bark is sometimes added as a flavoring agent or aromatic to toothpastes, gums, beers, perfumes, and mouthwashes.
Folks who are  advised not to use Sassafras would be those on blood thinners, blood pressure medicines, pregnant, and nursing moms (unless you are trying to dry your milk up) . I know when I was going through menopause, hot Sassafras was no friend to my hot flashes:) Do your own research and remember, everything in moderation.
The Food and Drug Association  banned the use of sassafras in mass produced foods and drugs (it was used to flavor many drugs also), unless the safrole , one of the components of sassafras , is removed. IN the 1960’s  there were some animal testings done where the poor critters were fed large doses of the isolate safrole, not with whole bark sassafras, and they  developed liver damage and cancers. Later studies found that the cause of the cancer was not safrole itself, but liver enzymes acting on it, and in human studies it did not have the same effect. Leave it to a bunch of animal testers to give a skewed result, especially interesting in this instance, as the Cherokees actually used sassafras to help cure liver cancer!I like this bit I found in my Peterson Field Guide by James Duke and Steven Foster, “ Safrole found in oil of Sassafras reportedly is carcinogenic; it is banned by the FDA. However, the safrole in a 12 ounce can of old-fashioned root beer is not as carcinogenic as the alcohol (ethanol) in a can of beer.”
And leave it to unsavory street drug manufacturers to also muck up a good herbals reputation…large doses of Sassafras may have a narcotic effect, so apparently using this tidbit of info MDMA and Ecstasy, were originally synthesized from sassafras :(
I can’t end this post on such a sour note, so I want to include a few more recipes and some humor!
 Take a look at this site, Southern Humorists, for a few more recipes and a laugh or two:)
And this recipe for homemade root beer will be sure to add a smile to anyone’s face!
Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xxx

book resources used: 
Stalking the Wild Asparagus by Euell Gibbons
The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine by Brigitte Mars, AHG
Mountain Medicine: The Herbal Remedies of Tommie Bass by Darryl Patton
Tommie Bass… Herb Doctor of Shinbone Ridge by Darryl Patton
Indian Herbology of North America by Alma Hutchens
The Old Herb Doctor by Joseph Meyer
Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs, a Peterson Field Guide by Steven Foster and James Duke

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Rose Petal Jam Tarts

2 large peaches - halved, pitted peeled
1 1/4 CUPS all purpose flour
2 TBSP unsalted butter, well chilled
extra flour
8 TSP Rose Jam or Rose Jelly
1/4 CUP sugar
1 TSP grated lemon zest
1 egg

Wash and pat peaches dry and set aside.

In a food processor, mix 1 1/4 CUP flour and sugar.

Pulse 2 times.

Cut up chunks of butter and mix in some flour.

Sprinkle chunks and lemon zest into the flour mixture in processor until it resembles fine meal.

While the food processor is running, add egg, mixing just until blended.

Knead gently on floured surface, just until pastry forms.

Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Sprinkle board with flour and turn pastry frequently during rolling.

Roll out to 1/8 inch. If it rips, just patch it.

Roll out 4 circles of dough (approx. 6-7 in. diam.)

Place each peach half in center of each circle with the cut side up and fill each with 2 TSP of jam/jelly.

Enclose pastry carefully, sealing all sides. For extra effect, use leftover pastry to form "rose petals" to place underneath peach.

Bake 425 degrees for 10min. and then lower to 350 degrees for 15 min. on ungreased cookie sheets. Baking time may vary slightly

recipe from Marmellata di Rose


I have not made this yet, but wanted to save it for when I have fresh rose petals this summer:)

Hugs to all Who Visit Comfrey Cottages xx

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Blood Type and Nutrition – Free Webinar


“One of the puzzling problems in working with nutrition is that individuals can react differently to the exact same diets and supplement plans. A nutritional program that produces positive benefits for one person may elicit a negative reaction from another. Fortunately, there are tools available that can help us understand why this is the case, and help someone find the appropriate program for their type.
Research done by Dr. Peter D’Adamo and his father, Dr. James D’Adamo, has demonstrated there was a strong correlation between a person’s blood type (O, A, B or AB) and the foods and supplements they need to consume for optimal health. Dr. D’Adamo has widely promoted this concept in several popular books, including Eat Right for Your Type and his latest work, Live Right for Your Type.
In this free webinar, Kimberly Balas, ND and Steven Horne, RH(AHG) will introduce you to the basic principles of the blood type diet and discuss some of the supplements that have proven beneficial for each type. Dr. Balas has worked personally with Peter D'Adamo and is an expert on the blood type diet. She'll be sharing some of her latest findings about how to quality of the food can change what foods are good for what types.
Click on the following link to register:

register for meeting link

Webinar will be held Monday February 13th.  at 8:30 Eastern, 7:30 Central, 6:30 Mountain, 5:30 Pacific”

Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx

Friday, February 10, 2012

Swan – Totem Animal


Wednesday, February 8th was our wedding anniversary. We had big plans to go to Peoria to the Bass Pro Shop for dinner, then take a roll of quarters and play at the shooting gallery and do a bit of shopping. Yes, we are big kids and love to play at the shooting gallery! lol! We passed each other on the road, each of us going home from work/tending grandchildren, (Gerald work and me from being with Dylan). I saw Gerald throw on the brakes when he saw me and whip around into a parking lot, so I joined him there. He excitedly told me he had just seen the biggest group of swans, he had ever seen around these parts! We went and home and got my camera and enjoyed sitting in the truck just watching this wonderful bird show! Swans are dear to me and played a big part in our wedding with their likeness on our invitations, and incorporated in our decorations, so they are special and this was very appropriate for the day!

Swans are strong totem medicine. They live a very long life, are strong, and graceful. They can represent longevity, strength and grace and strong family bonds. Since they mate for life, they can show up to indicate the one you are with, or one soon to be met, is your soul mate. As an archetype, they start life as “the ugly duckling”, but grow into beauty. Like the children’s story, this can be about growing into inner beauty. Her message might be to look beyond the obvious. Swan can teach you to realize your own inner beauty and the inner beauty of others. She tells of the development of intuitive abilities. She tells of the time of altered states and foretelling. Swans figure prominently in all cultures myths, legends and lore. She soars through the air, nests on the ground and swims through the water, taking herself through the different elements with ease. She may be showing us to consider a change of mood or heart, with her movement through these different environs. In dreams, she could be telling us to spread our wings and take charge of our waking dreams.

As you can see in the picture and video, there were thousands of snow geese and some had on their blue color phase, also!

Thank you for visiting Comfrey Cottages xx

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Herbs Gone Wild!


Another herbie resource for you! Herbs Gone Wild by Diane Kidman!

Description from Amazon: “Whether it's cold and flu viruses, high blood pressure, or arthritis, herbs have offered reliable relief for centuries. Herbs Gone Wild! (Volume 1 of the Herbs Gone Wild! Series) shares practical remedies in an entertaining and easy-to-read format so you can be your family's home herbalist. Learn what herbs to use for cold and flu symptoms, first aid, general aches and pains, and more. Medicinal teas and tinctures with proper dosages are laid out simply. You'll even learn how to make your own tinctures and salves, saving money and improving your family's health naturally. And with the help of the Herbal Medicine Chest guide at the end of the book, you'll be able to quickly reference over 70 herbs for home use.”

I don’t own a Kindle, but I did download the free Amazon app Whispernet, which is Amazon’s Kindle for the PC, Android, iPod, iPad, Mac, etc.

This book is a practical, easy, fun to read resource for dealing with the day to day stuff, foks. I know you will enjoy it as I do!

Downloading the app gives you the ability to read many ebooks for free or just a nominal charge. My computer is old and I was leery for a long time until I got the nudge from Anke at Herbology! Thanks Anke! It hasn’t bogged down my computer at all and loads quickly:)

Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xxx

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Decorating with Rose and Comfrey


Rose and Comfrey are two of my allies I chose for my participation in the Springfield Sanctuary Apprentice program this year. Wanting to incorporate these lovelies in every way I could think of, in my life this year, I decided to redecorate the wall above my kitchen table.

The two rose prints I found at a yard sale many, many years ago. They were  just so beautiful, I had to buy them. They have travelled with me through my life’s journey for at least 25 years now.




I have been enamored with learning the history of roses, and in particular, how they have received their names. In the course of pursuing this, I have had to learn new terms, such as “sport”, which refers to when nature pulls a genetic surprise and creates a new rose from another! I explain this term as it comes up in this bit I could find out about the Alfred K. Williams rose. Seems A. K. Williams is the sport of a French rose named General Jacqueminot,  who was an offspring of Glories des Rosomanes and Geant des Batailles. From what I can figure out from different sources it was introduced in 1877! (1877 — Schwartz, France)

From The Garden: An Illustrated Weekly Journal of Horticulture and All Its Branches, March 24th, 1894:

A.K. Williams When this Rose was sent out in 1877 by Monsieur J. Schwartz it was considered to delicate a grower...However, now it has got over the strain of excessive propagation, I find it a fairly good grower and has probably won the medal as bieng the best Hybrid Perpetual in the show oftener than any other is one of the most perfect Roses of its type-imbricated...Deep carmine-red when first opening, changing to a more or less magenta hue with age, every flower bold and upright, with good lasting powers and exquisite fragrance...It is not so long-lived as many when grown upon the Manetti...the Brier stock gives a more lasting bloom, and is much the best for autumnal flowering. A.K. Williams is useful for forcing, making a near, compact plant, and carrying from three to twelve blooms at one time in a 6-inch or 8-inch pot.

and from the same magazines in 1882:


Rose (H.P.) Alfred K. Williams. This beautiful Rose was sent out by Schwartz, of Lyons, in the autumn of 1877, and flowered for the first time in my Rose garden the following summer. From the very first flower I...discovered that it was a Rose of great promise...A few complaints have been heard regarding its being a weak grower...misgivings to which I give no credit...I find it does well as a standard, and also on the Manetti, but I am inclined to think that the Brier is the best stock for it. Colchester. B. R. Cant...
In growth I should describe A.K. Williams as being between Duke of Wellington and Lord Macaulay....growth may be set down as moderate. The wood is thorny, the spines being what the rosarians call red. The form of the flower is perfect, being beautifully imbricated and of the brightest carmine-red...No Rose, if I omit Gloire de Dijon and La France, is more thoroughly perpetual....As regards constitution or durability, can it rank with Alfred Colomb...?I fear not...One great that it grows alike freely on Manetti, seedling Brier, and standard Brier.

(this information was found on this website)




Now the next one says Monsieurs  E.Y. Teas and Jean Liabaud, two different roses in one pictures. From the same source I find scant information on either rose.

E.Y. Teas

Hybrid Perpetual.  Pink.  Strong fragrance.  Blooms in flushes throughout the season.  USDA zone 6b through 9b (default).   Eugène Verdier fils aîne (1874)

Jean Liabaud:(1875 — Liabaud, France)

Hybrid Perpetual.  Crimson, darker shading.  Moderate fragrance.  Large, full (26-40 petals), borne mostly solitary, in small clusters, cupped, scalloped bloom form.  Occasional repeat later in the season.  USDA zone 6b through 9b (default).   Jean-Pierre Liabaud (1875).

The other picture I know exactly where it came from. A dear friend named Lucinda xx


Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx


Monday, February 6, 2012

Free Webinar- An Introduction to Plant Identification

Another great free webinar by is being offered! Doesn’t matter where you live in the world, dear readers, since this is a webinar! An Introduction to Plant Identification with herbalist Steven Horne and Thomas Easley.
“It's not that you have to be an expert in botany to know how to identify a plant, its just that understanding some basic botany, such as leaf and flower structures, types of roots and fruits and the characteristics of major botanical families really helps you when it comes to identifying plants.  
In this free introduction to our Botany class, we're going to discuss basic flower parts and introduce the characteristics of several major botanical families. We're not only going to talk about the plant characteristics of these families, we're also going to discuss some of their basic chemistry and energetics. “
Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Humoral Research – Springfield Sanctuary Handout

“ In the body the four elements ; Earth, Air, Fire and Water are known as the four Humours, and give rise to the four Temperaments; Melancholic, Sanguine, Choleric and Phlegmatic, respectively.”

Continuing with my January Springfield Sanctuary assignments. We were given a list of questions to read through, tick the statements that applied to ourselves, and get an overall picture of which humours we were dominant in. We then had ideas to implement, to help find our humoral balance.

the4humorsphoto from Wikipedia Commons with release to public domain

These are my results:


                                      Air/ Sanquine        16     

                                      Water/ Phlegmatic  13   

                                      Earth/Melancholic  10    

                                      Fire/Choleric          15      

                         so a Sanquine/Choleric mainly

Now I see where Earth/Melancholic is the lesser of the humours, but... when you divide these up into body/physical aspects and mood/social aspects, it changes a bit.. which I found interesting, but I am hoping that by making the following dietary/ exercise,( I talk about at the end of this post), all will come more in line!

Body/ Physical

                                      Air/Sanquine         10

                                      Water/Phlegmatic  2 ( 1 of those an excess)

                                      Earth/Melancholic  1

                                      Fire/Choleric           8

                          big time Sanquine/Choleric  body/physical


                                      Air/Sanquine          6

                                      Water/Phlegmatic 10

                                       Earth/Melancholic  9

                                       Fire/Choleric          7 with 1


                  so Phlegmatic/Melancholic mood/social!

Sanquines need to avoid excesses of all kinds, especially rich food, alcohol and sex. I suppose cutting back on butter… sigh, real butter and cookies, cakes and candy… never mind.. damp and heating foods such as honey, wine and mead… well I AM a beekeeper… so right, cut back on the honey… sigh, excess amounts of dried fruit, sugar, garlic and onion…. right then, butter, dried fruit, honey, sugar moderation.. use less…lots less

Do take, beer, cider, water, soups with barley, vinegar, pickles, wild meats, fish, salads and summer fruits…. I do adore cider and barley, use vinegar daily.. but can up that, wild meats, salad ok… summer fruits.. good thing I have some peaches canned, and some blueberries and raspberries frozen from last year. I don’t really like beer, and when I do drink, which is rarely, I do prefer mead, but since that is like once a year, inconsequential.

Eat regular meals and avoid eating between meals… ugh, schedule meals better, ok will do. Will have to think about how to not eat between meals, as I tend to be a grazer.

Useful herbs: calming and centering herbs; Chamomile, Linden, Oats. Anxiety;Valerian combined with Skullcap or Passion flower. Protect and balance circulation;Hawthorn berries and Bilberries

Do cultivate one person or find a central interest to life. Express that excess air by singing, writing or expressing ideas. Best stick with writing or the idea things…

Choleric people

Avoid; fatty and spicy foods, fatty meat, salty and dry foods, stimulants (coffee!), alcoholic spirits, excess wine and excess competitive sports… but forced inactivity will cause fire to burn out, leading to “burnt Choler” (examples: folks in retirement, students forcing themselves to sit and read long periods, thus neglecting their preferred sporting activity)

Take: fish and wild meats, beer and cider, soups with barley, summer fruits, water, regular exercise and vapor baths. Regular cleansing regimes such as short fast or eating only light foods for a few days.

Useful herbs: bitter herbs in general;cooling and softening herbs such as violets, mallows and plantain; herbs that clear heat from liver and digestive system such as Rhubarb root or Meadowsweet; herbs that clear heat from the skin, like Burdock root and Yellow dock; herbs to protect heart from heat like Motherwort and Lemon Balm; cooling sedatives like Wild Lettuce and Hops for insomnia or over excitability (Valerian might be too warm for Choleric people)

Cultivate respect for authoritative figure and exercise self discipline. Always have a project preferably one with clear aims that doesn’t take too long.  Self discipline will come into play making the dietary and exercise changes!

I am thinking that if I make a few changes in my dietary and exercise routines, all 4 humors will come more in balance physically. I believe I will leave off that second cup of morning coffee and aim to just walk briskly around the neighborhood for 15 minutes or so in the morning. Get my husband to go fishing with me and add more fish to our diet, along with the wild game we have in the freezer. Add more blueberries, raspberries, drink more cider and use more of my Hawthorn or Motherwort vinegars. I guess I will try to limit my honey to mainly honeygars made with either of those two vinegars and also use those vinegars on salads and veggies. Make more clear soups, (another biggie as I prefer creamed soups),  adding barley and Burdock root.  Maybe the Wild Lettuce to ensure a good nights sleep, since I have an excess mark in my Choleric/Fire part… I think a tea I might enjoy that suits would be Chamomile, Linden, and Lemon Balm. I just made a Yellow Dock and molasses syrup, so maybe a spoon of that a day..And cut back on heavy, damp foods and stimulants! Less butter, less coffee and chocolate :(, less gravies! Leave off as many dried fruits and go for more fresh (well, my frozen/canned ones… I do adore dried fruit so this is a biggie). When spring arrives I can add fresh violets and summertime, fresh mallows. I have both as tinctures, but I don’t use tinctures a lot as I find them very warming… I have Meadowsweet tincture too, so maybe a Violet, Mallow, Meadowsweet and Dandelion tinctures mixture occasionally. Chamomile is a bitter herb, so that helps with adding bitters to the diet. I will add lots of dandelions, which are a bitter, when they start to appear, which shouldn’t be long the way our weather has been! I should order some more Dandy Blend, as that could be substituted for the times I typically want a cup of coffee. I like it plain with no sugar, so that would help with sugar intake also:)

Now since my mental/mood outcomes were almost completely opposite, I decided I might explore those things they suggest for those of us with a Phlegmatic/ Melancholic mind/mood.

Looking at Melancholic ideas, I get slapped in the head…” avoid thinking too much and getting caught in introspection.” Considering how many days I have thought about this handout, considered the differences between the body and mind aspects, and also thought about, as was brought out, that our ancestral gene pool can be a factor, and also compared pre and post menopausal self profiles… yes, I do think too much! lol! Ok, right then, try and back off a bit on that…"Always have a big project on the go-one which requires deep thought but also gets ‘you out of yourself’ “ Hmmm I will have to think about that one some more… lol! Also suggested is more activity. Herbs to clear melancholy Borage and Motherwort.  No Valerian, as  suggested as too warming to my physical constitution, but again, Linden and Lemon Balm.

Phlegmatic ideas, regular gentle exercise and co-operative ventures.. again, like above, something to think about as I can be a bit of a loner… already decided should start walking more. “Avoid getting caught up in emotional introspection-find creative ways of expressing deep emotions. Keep clear emotional boundaries. Join an organization.” Food for thought… Will keep you posted on any ideas about that I can implement… I have thought too long about this all already!!

Sarah has a bitters recipe on her website, using Seville oranges. Since I can not find those I explored ideas for substitution and am off to make my version using what I do have available to me. I need to finish my elder wand and strain my rosehip honey, two other suggestions to do in January.

 The research handout for this exercise about the humors, was written by herbalist Christopher Hedley.

Thank you for visiting Comfrey Cottages xx