so my good friend andrea just interviewed me for her folk reveries blog. folk reveries is an amazing team of crafters that can be found on etsy and i just happen to be part of this extraordinary team. check it out! beware... each member of folk reveries crafts to die for items that you might not be able to resist!!! just click on the adorable folk reveries icon to be swept away to a magical world!!!
the herbs in my yard proudly smiled for photographs today!
my pride and joy... st john's wort. i'm guessing she'll flower right around july 4th! i will harvest her flowers to make oil.
comfrey! she's a bloomin'. i will harvest her leaves for tea and poultice.
chives about to blossom! when she finally does blossom i will place her flowers in apple cider vinegar and make an incredible chive blossom vinegar that tastes out of this world. if you plan to do this too, make sure to boil your vinegar or buy pasteurized, otherwise the shelf life will only be a month or so.
cilantro! can't wait to make fresh salsa when she grows up!
dill! she's got some growing to do too!
lemon balm... will dry her for tea and harvest some fresh for tincture!
motherwort... will wait until she flowers and make a tincture. motherwort will calm your nerves, aid the female reproductive system, strengthen your heart and lower bloodpressure! study her today!!!
baby yarrow... will dry her flowers and keep them on hand for an herbal first aid kit. packing her dried flowers into a fresh wound will stop the bleeding! but oh there's so much more to do with her too!
1st year burdock... will dig her roots in july for tincture. one of the best blood purifiers i can think of!
chickweed... salad, salad, salad!!!!
so much excitement going on in my yard today. i can hardly wait to see who else is coming! xo fh
my little dog sleeping by my side the rain outside. may showers. kitty cleaning her paws and shedding some of her winter coat. makes me crazy to clean it up, but tells me warmth is near and all things are preparing. and soon tiny greenery popping through the soil of my brown dirt garden. of seeds sown lovingly. this is what i live for!
oh lawdy, the weather's getting nicer and it is time... time for lavender lemonade! i enjoy this sinfully delicious beverage all the time at home. the subtle tartness of the lemons, the delicate floral of the lavender and the sweetness of organic sugar. i've been dreaming of a way to offer lavender lemonade to all my etsy friends all winter and last night a little lightbulb went off in my head. i packaged it up this morning and it's ready for you!!! since i've been making lemonade for years, i've got all the perfect proportions for a tall glass of this magical beverage. all you've got to do is follow the easy directions. and did you know that lavender lemonade is actually beneficial to your body? okay, i know it's got some sugar in it, but for a little yellow fruit, lemons pack a powerful healing punch. They are a natural digestion aid and an all around internal body cleanser. And better yet, lemons contain powerful anti-cancer and anti-oxidant healing properties. Lavender is not only calming, but can help with exhaustion, anxiety and digestion. dontcha need some today??
this time of year there are so many hearty and tasty salad fixins' growing right there in your own yard! i thought i'd post a few of them with photos so that you can make your own delicious yard salad. as always, make sure you have absolutely 100% correctly identified these plants before you ingest! and obviously don't pick where the dog walks! there are certainly other wild greens to add to this list, but this is what you should find right now if you live in the midwest/east coast! become a forager today and remember to do it ecologically and to thank the plants as you harvest...
chickweed -- one of my favorites! to harvest this lady, just give her a little hair cut, cutting the top 1 to 2 inches off the plant. it usually grows in stands, so you should be able to get a nice bunch. the further down you go, the more stringy and chewy the plant will get, so stick with the tender tops. continue to harvest until the plant starts to flower.
dandelion -- such a great nourishing plant... especially for your liver. the bitter taste can turn people off, but right now in the spring, this gal has a sweeter and milder flavor. she has a few lookalikes, but one way i identify her is to look at the underside of the leaf and check the main vein to make sure it is smooth. dandy shaves her legs, while other similar looking plants will probably have a soft fuzzy hair along the vein. harvest a few of her leaves and chop them into tiny bits for a subtle flavor in your salad.
garlic mustard or alliaria petiolata -- this is another one of my favs! if you love a very, very mellow garlic flavor then this gal's for you. this plant grows everywhere and is considered invasive by most people. pesky or not, it's delicious! harvest the leaves. this gal is a biennial so her first year leaves are tender and mild. second year leaves tend to be a bit more bitter -- especially as the season progresses, so harvest her now before she gets too strong because right now the leaves are still delicious. garlic mustard can also be cooked like spinach or other dark leafy greens and it's super good this way too!
violet -- a nice hearty green and great salad filler (i.e. use lots of the leaves to make your salad big). super mellow flavor. this gal is so nice i wrote an entire blog about her last month. check it out. use the leaves in the body of the salad and use the flowers as a beautiful garnish on the top of the salad. both the leaves and flowers are totally edible!
ground ivy or glechoma hederacea -- also wrote about this little lady last month, so check that out. use the flowers to garnish the top of your salad and use the leaves in the salad to add a mild mint flavor. work with the top inch or so of the plant and harvest from there! now is the time to harvest this gal.
tulips -- ever tried a petal from a tulip flower... so delicious. use the beautiful spring colors of the tulip flower to garnish and color your salad! harvest the flower and then pull the petals for your salad and of course thank miss tulip (and all your urban salad fixins') very much for letting you pick her! she will be happy to live on inside of you, giving you life and vitality!
wild ramps or leeks -- one last gal i would be remiss if i didn't mention... the wild ramp. go find her today. she grows in damp areas in the woods, usually near a pond or swamp. you're going to need a digging tool to pop this lady out of the ground, because what you want to harvest is the scallion-like bulb. you could definitely add this to your salad for a little leek/onion flavor, but what i really like to do with wild ramps is make a potato soup with them and add them to my eggs, although there are millions more things you can make with them as well. as you harvest, i recommend cutting off the roots from the bottom of the ramp and putting them back in the ground where you are harvesting, that way there will be even more wild ramps next year!!!
i would love to hear how your wild salad turns out. leave a comment... ask a question and as alway, nourish your body with the nature around you.
my friend glechoma hederacea is a lovely lady. she lives in my backyard and my frontyard and i see her everywhere i look as spring unfolds. she probably lives in your yard too... but you probably know her by one of her other names -- most commonly creeping charlie or ground ivy, but also known as gill over the ground or lawn pest and/or invasive species. BUT WAIT BEFORE YOU PULL THIS LOVELY LADY OUT OF THE GROUND AND ACCUSE HER OF BEING A USELESS WEED. glechoma hederacea belongs to the lamiaceae family (or more commonly the mint family). right now in the midwest glechoma hederacea is spreading her green leaves everywhere and by the end of april/may she will be in flower. She is an early bloomer along with some other ladies out there right now like motherwort and violet and as she flowers it will be time to gather her leaves and blooms to dry and store for the cold and flu season. this gal has a long history of being used as a general tonic for colds, coughs and congestion and is very effective when used in this way. she has also been shown to be especially useful in treating asthma and also seems to demonstrate anti-inflammatory properties. the herb also has a history of being used in tinnitus, kidney disease and indigestion. and on a historical note, this herb was used by the saxons in the beer brewing process as a flavoring and preservative before it was later replaced by hops. oh and one last thing, she's high in vitamin c! i recommend exploring this herb on your own this summer. put the flowers and top leaves in a salad. gather her and dry for use as a tea. or perhaps you can pull out your anglo saxon cookbook and brew a brew!
featherheart trading co is now being sold at palace in portland, or. look at the amazing photo she took of the herbal smokes!!!! i love it! if you live close by, go there!!! http://palacepdx.blogspot.com/
ahhhh soon my little golden beauty blossoms will line the green grassy fields with their sweet blooms... and then it will be time for dandelion wine! if dandelion has already come to your neck of the woods, start gathering. and if you're still waiting patiently read ray bradbury's "dandelion wine" until that time comes.
when it is time to gather your blooms from fields near and wide, wait for a day when the sun is high and shining brightly and then round up your picking bowl, assemble your ingredients, hum a tune and ask the dandy for her bright yellow blossoms.
here's the recipe as adapted from susun weed's "healing wise":
2 gallon crock or ceramic or glass bowl 3-5 quarts of blossoms 5 quarts of water 3 pounds of sugar 1 organic orange 1 organic lemon 1 package of live yeast wholewheat bread toast
immediately after picking place blossoms (sepals okay, but remove stalks)in bowl. boil water and pour over flowers. cover crock or bowl with cheesecloth. stir daily for 3 days. on the fourth day strain blossoms from the liquid. cook liquid with sugar and rind of the orange and lemon for 30-60 minutes. return liquid to crock and add citrus juice. when liquid has cooled to blood temperature, soften yeast and spread on toast. flow toast in crock and cover. let it sit for two days. strain and return liquid to crock for one more day to settle. filter in to clean bottles and cork lightly. don't drink until winter solstice!
baby's got a serious case of spring fever. whoa, i don't know what's with this warm weather in michigan, but i'm not gonna question it, i'm just gonna love it up!!! i'm reeling with excitement about what's popping out of the ground. i've already got some flowering crocuses in the backyard. my st.john's wort is green and creeping low to the ground. peppermint is springing up in my garden -- everywhere as peppermint does. motherwort is spreading her sprightly leaves. and i can tell the tightly wrapped buds of my forsythia are just dying to bust open. soon two of my favorite little weeds will be everywhere. . . you guessed it dandelion and violet. i cannot wait to harvest some golden dandy flowers to make dandelion wine. mmmmm. and violet, well let me tell you about violet. first of all, have you ever eaten a violet flower?? i'm talking about those wild violet flowers all over your yard -- viola odorata. if not you should (that is if you are absolutely certain you've correctly identified viola odorata). they are just heavenly and an amazing way to take the gifts of spring into your body. and actually flower is a misnomer for those pretty little blossoms that pop up everywhere. they are in fact "fake" flowers. they do not have propagation powers. the real violet flower is green and comes later in autumn and hides in the violet leaf. interesting eh? and not only are those tiny fake flowers delicious, but so are the leaves. i love to throw the leaves (and flowers) into a salad. they are so super nutritious, packing in lots of vitamins and minerals. eating these greens boosts the immune and reproductive systems, as well as lend support to the nerves, lungs, liver, gall bladder, digestive and urinary systems. wow, violet is a powerful lady! and her story gets better as she is known as a cancer healer (particularly skin and breast), congestion and cough soother and is a must when dealing particularly with breast tissue cysts, tumors and growths.
this is merely a tiny introduction into the world of violet. there are so many traditional medicinal uses of this plant and i could go on and on and on. my point is not to go stick a bunch of violet leaves in your mouth, but rather to be aware that some of the most healing medicines are in your back yard. most think of violet as an invasive lawn pest, but she is my gal and she can be yours too. i encourage you to do your own research and give violet a try. i cannot wait to see her very soon!
in the first days of june, when summer feels like she has finally dug her barefoot heels into the midwest fertile soil fostering the hearty blooms of freshly sprung greenery, the fuzzy purple flower of the red clover stands tall like a goddess and reminds me to savor the days of my favorite season. with her permission, i love to gather the heads of the red clover flower in a woven wood basket from fields far and wide. i collect and dry these beautiful and subtly fragrant blossoms to make a nourishing herbal infusion. and in the winter when i drink the tea nectar of the red clover blossom, i am reminded of all my summer meanderings.
red clover infusion is wonderfully medicinal and delicious hot or cold. it is a vitamin and mineral dense herb, but in my mind, it is most strongly associated with cancer prevention, cancer treatment and infertility. red clover's powers include a long list of loving optimum health support. she helps alkalinize the blood and has antispasmodic, diuretic and anti-inflammatory effects. red clover is especially useful in combating hormonal cancers and has anti-tumor compounds. no less than 33 different cultures around the world use red clover blossoms when cancer is suspected or diagnosed. when taking for cancer, consume two to four cups of the infusion daily. red clover contains a significant amount of antioxidants – especially vitamin e. she is vitamin and mineral rich with abundant amounts of b vitamins, c, calcium, chromium, magnesium, potassium and protein. when dealing with coughs, colds and bronchial congestion, drink the infusion liberally. red clover infusion is an excellent tonic for menopausal women (reducing night sweats and hot flashes), as well as an unsurpassed fertility herb (2 to 4 cups daily for at least six weeks). it helps regulate the menstrual cycle, but due to it’s blood thinning characteristics, should be avoided by women who bleed heavily -- but, because of red clover’s blood thinning ability, it has a great reputation for preventing strokes. it's wonderful for new mommies, as it replenishes minerals lost during pregnancy and lactation and helps a mother stay calm and feel good. in general, drinking red clover infusion is an easy way to introduce an amazing amount of nourishment into the body.
so many ways this herb can nurture the body and this list only scratches the surface of what she is capable of!!! make an infusion with dried red clover blossoms today and if you need help making an infusion keep reading. i detail infusion instructions several places in previous blogs. you can gather and dry red clover blossoms yourself or purchase dried from your local herb store or source.
oh how i love slippery elm!!! it's a tree that is native to north america and it's inner bark is used as medicine. it's a fantastically mucousy herb that gets things slippin' and slidin' inside the body... ever feel like you just need to be internally lubed up??? slippery elm is for you. traditionally used to soothe upset stomachs, sore throats, coughs and to get things moving (as in "get things moving wink wink") or to calm an acid stomach, slippery elm helps heal internal mucosal tissue, thus anything that you can generally think of as being lined with a mucous layer -- as in throat, stomach and vagina can be aided with the bark of this tree. while the mucilage of the plant moistens and soothes, the tannins of the plant act as an astringent and generally have an anti-inflammatory effect. tannins are also able to form a protective layer over exposed tissue, so as you might imagine, this can be quite soothing to something that is sore or burning or irritated. i like to make slippery elm balls and dissolve them in my mouth like a lozenge when i have a sore throat or irritated tummy. they are pretty easy to make, so i thought i'd share the recipe. slippery elm balls are a great thing to carry in an herbal medicine first aid kit and as this blog progresses i will write about other things to add to your kit. the titles of these blogs will always begin with "herbal medicine first aid kit." you can put together your kit for road trips, travel, home, camping and your purse or backpack. look for more blogs soon!
for now here's something fun to make and keep handy. if you have kids, it's a fun activity for the fam!
first you're gonna need to track down some slippery elm bark powder at your local herb store or online. online, i recommend mountain rose herbs www.moutainroseherbs.com. then you're gonna need to track down some honey. i recommend finding a local source.
take a bowl, add some slippery elm powder to the bowl and then begin to add honey a little at a time until the mixture becomes dense enough and sticky enough to roll into small lozenge sized balls -- you're gonna put these in your mouth and allow them to dissolve so keep this in mind as you roll! you can make a few or many depending on how much powder you use, but either way these will store indefinitely, as honey is antibacterial and has a very long shelf life. let your slippery elm balls sit for a day and then store them in an airtight container. for portability, you can put some in an altoids tin or something like it and throw them in a purse or bag -- then you'll always be ready when someone says, "my stomach hurts" or "my throat is sore!"
there are other more complicated recipes you may find online or in herb books for slippery elm balls or lozenges, but i like to keep it simple and medicinally, this recipe works great!
i cannot think of a political party that was created by a television station in the history of the united states, yet before our very eyes fox news is creating and talking 24/7 about the "tea party." i suspect if they talk about it enough and shove it down the already brainwashed fox viewers throats that it will indeed become a real legitimate party. and let's see here who owns fox news..... and let's see here again, is it right for a television news network owned by one man to create it's own political party?
i am neither democrat or republican. i think it is unwise to ally oneself with either political party given the corruption of our government and the fact that it's all coming from the same place anyway. get your news from legitimate sources and be discerning enough to understand that news and political parties create divide. we are not on this earth to judge or dislike one another. we are one.
from the law of one: "In truth there is no right or wrong. There is no polarity for all will be, as you would say, reconciled at some point in your dance through the mind/body/spirit complex which you amuse yourself by distorting in various ways at this time. This distortion is not in any case necessary. It is chosen by each of you as an alternative to understanding the complete unity of thought which binds all things. You are not speaking of similar or somewhat like entities or things. You are every thing, every being, every emotion, every event, every situation. You are unity. You are infinity. You are love/light, light/love. You are."
please stop wasting your time hating and dividing.
as spring contemplates the velocity it will take to dash into the tightly held hands of winter's red rover, i feel the fairies ready to come out and play, the first tiny hands of the crocus ready to rise from the freshly thawed waking ground and the resplendent stands of nettle ready to ceremoniously unfold its arms to reveal her finely whiskered stinging leafs. in anticipation of all of this i have begun a hopeful ritual of daily nettle infusions to summon lady spring's graceful entrance perhaps a little sooner rather than later.... and as i drink my nettle infusion i remember all the good things she provides.
an infusion of nettle is gentle enough to use everyday and powerful enough to heal the storm of damage winter usually leaves in its wake. the colds, the flus, the coughs and anything else that tore the body apart these past few frigid months can finally seize the opportunity of repair with the aid of nettle. kidneys, lungs, intestines, adrenals, digestion and arteries are tonified and strengthened and gradually altered toward optimum functioning with this nourishing herbal infusion. the result is increased ease and energy in the operation of the circulatory, immune, endocrine, nervous and urinary systems, thus providing you with the joyful energy to take spring and run with her. nettles are high in iron (making them good for those with anemia), calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, amino acids, b vitamins and protein. nettles offer a mega dose of chlorophyll and are considered a blood cleanser – blood and chlorophyll only have one molecule different! nettles are a great ally for healing the kidneys and thus helpful in healing kidney stones, urinary infections, and those with threatened dialysis. they contain quercitin, which is highly anti-inflammatory and very, very good for spring allergies (and all allergies for that matter). this herb is highly recommended for pregnant and lactating women (enhances the quality of breast milk) and is considered very safe. in addition, the infusion is a wonderful ally for women with night sweats, exhaustion, chronic, profuse menstrual flow and cramps. it also gives the hair, skin and nails a beautiful sheen! oats or rosehips can be added to your infusion to enhance the flavor, but i like to drink nettle as it is and savor the tasty the strong goodness of this powerful plant.
i have spoken in past blogs about how to make a nourishing herbal infusion, but as a reminder i recommend an ounce of herb to a quart of water. place dried herbs in a quart jar, boil water and pour the water into the jar filling it all the way to the top and submerging the herbs. cover with a lid and steep 4-6 hours. i like to steep overnight.
when i was in costa rica in december i was hiking to a waterfall and noticed a tall flowering plant that drew my attention. having a great interest in plants, i started to look at the plant and was able to conclude it was from the mint family, but i wasn't exactly sure what it was. i asked a costa rican woman i was with what it was. my spanish is not great, but i was able to make out that costa ricans use the seeds in beverages. She called the plant "chan." later i asked an american herbalist living in costa rica what the plant was and she told me the natives call it chan and that the seeds are mixed with water and sugar to make a beverage.
the very next day i saw the beverage at a restaurant and ordered it. it was delicious. the tiny seeds were mucilaginous and so fun to slide around in my mouth. i was sure that the beverage was probably good for digestion given the mucousy texture, but what i hadn't yet connected was that the seed and plant i was enjoying was chia! and what i have since learned is that the beverage is enjoyed in many parts of central america and widely popular in mexico where it is called chia fresca. and yes, it's the same seed found in chia pets!
i've been familiar with chia as a flax substitiute and source of omega 3 fatty acids for many years, but drinking chan in costa rica has renewed my interest in this tiny little seed. what makes chia interesting to me is that it is much more stable than flax seed and therefore enjoys a longer shelf life. what many people don't know is that flax seed only has a shelf life of about 3 months -- possibly a little longer if it is refrigerated or frozen. and that's if the flax was purchased as fresh as possible. when flax is ground and stored, the shelf life and stability decreases even more. chia seeds seem to have even more health benefits than flax and some say they have a shelf life of up to 5 years, although i would recommend consuming chia within a year. in addition to being a highly concentrated source of omega 3's, chia seeds contain 19 amino acids including all the essential amino acids minus taurine. unlike flax, chia seeds do not need to be ground up and can be eaten and digested whole. chia seeds are said to have 2 times the protein of any other seed or grain, 5 times the calcium of milk, 2 times the amount of potassium as bananas, 3 times the reported antioxidant strength of blueberries and 3 times more iron than spinach, in addition to the fantastic amounts of omega 3. and let's not forget the potential source of fiber these seeds offer!
many people recommend hydrating chia seeds and eating them as a gel. you can spoon this gel onto oatmeal, into smoothies, eat the gel as is in unlimited quantities, make a pudding out of it and the list goes on. the recommended water to seed ratio is 2 oz (about 1/3 cup) of seed to 2 cups of water. mix, stir and let sit for a few hours and then begin to consume. it will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge and the gel can be made with whole or ground seeds. and because chia are water loving and absorb water well, the gel is very hydrating to the body. the seeds can also be consumed whole or ground on salads, in juices, on yogurt etc. etc. chia are particularly great in smoothies because they thicken smoothies in the same way that protein powders would without all the unpronounceable ingredients that are in protein powder.
this little blog only scratches the surface of the potential that chia seeds have as an addition to the diet. i encourage you to read and research for yourself. meanwhile, here's a "pudding" recipe i found on a forum that you might enjoy as your first chia adventure:
3 cups water 1 to 2 inches of ginger blend and add 5-8 brazil nuts or a handful of cashews or almonds blend again add 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/2 tsp vanilla 1-2 tblsp agave 1/4 cup ground coconut 1/4 cup chia blend and let sit a minute and blend again -- do this a few times let sit a few hours and then eat
special thanks to margaret conover for the great photo! check out her website: www.chiativity.org.
i was recently contacted on etsy by someone asking me about using featherheart trading co body products as an acne fighter. here's what i had to say....
i don't necessarily have a full line with cleansers and toners, but what i do offer is my lavender face and body oil. i have struggled with adult acne for years and years. it's depressing and awful i know! i started making handmade body products about 6 years ago and one day i decided to try the lavender oil on my face. i was nervous about aggravating my skin and making things worse, but i knew two things for certain:
1. often times the skin is oily because it is actually dry. dry skin on the face attempts to bring balance to itself by creating oil. usually when this happens the skin produces too much oil, thus making the face appear oily rather than dry and creating an environment for bacteria to grow.
2. lavender is a natural antiseptic, killing bacteria.
with this in mind, i started by using just a little bit of the lavender oil on my face at night. after a few days it seemed like i was seeing an improvement. i started using a little more of the oil and then i started using it in the morning and at night. now it is my primary moisturizer. not only has the oil cleared my acne, but i believe it keeps me looking young too!
others who have tried the oil have had similar results. you may have an initial break out as your skin adjusts, but try the oil for 3 or 4 weeks and see what happens! it may not be for you, but if you decide it's not, you've only made an $8 mistake versus the $20 to $100 dollars you might spend on other face and acne creams!
the lavender oil contains two ingredients -- olive oil and fresh dried organic lavender flowers. the formula is as simple as that! so not only are you getting the benefit of beautiful skin, but everything you put on your skin gets absorbed into your body and your body loves olive oil and lavender, unlike all the crazy ingredients in commercial face creams. your eyes can't even read the ingredients in commercial face creams and your tongue can't pronounce them. imagine what your body thinks about them! yuck.
herbal and wellness musings are merely food for thought. please do your own research and/or consult with a professional before trying herbs or herbal remedies.
photos used in this blog are meant for educational purposes. it is not featherheart's intention to violate any copywrites. if you happen to be the owner of a photograph featherheart has used and object to it's use, please let her know and she will remove it immediately.