Tuesday, June 7, 2016

June at the Still Room

The view from my back door- the plant table, overloaded with newly purchased herbs in 4" pots awaiting  new homes in containers or yet-to-be-built raised beds:
pennyroyal
catnip
3 varieties of echinacea
hyssop
eucalyptus

It seems that spring fever hit later than usual this year.  I pretty much ignored the thought of new herbs or gardens until a week or two ago.  But then my daughter mentioned a medicinal herb garden for herself and that's all it took.  Off to Austin we went and collected everything on her list that we could find.  Now we're trying to wait patiently for her dad to help us with raised beds.  If it doesn't happen soon we will have to baby the plants through the summer in containers and plant them in the fall.  Summer is not a good time for planting here.  Too much heat for newly planted herbs to tolerate.
There are also some hummingbird flowers I couldn't resist at the garden center on the table-
Mexican honeysuckle and two others whose names escape me at present.

And then there's the hoodia that is very happy, yet lanky and unwieldy to deal with (I think that is the correct name for the plant at the front right.  It was a gift and when I researched it online that's what I came up with.  Let me know if you think otherwise.).

 Also on the table are a patchouli that survived our mild winter, scented geraniums, medicinal aloe, and a pair of socks left by one of my daughters.
Underneath the table we have a stray terracotta pot, an empty aquarium, an overturned watering can, and a dog toy.  Lovely.

I applaud those of you who manage neat and tidy gardens and porches.  Controlled chaos is the best I can manage.  And sometimes the chaos gets totally out of control.  But it's okay.  As long as the herbs and family are happy, life is good.

So, planting and some much needed pruning are on my list for June at the Still Room.

What's new in your garden these days?
Are you growing a new herb or variety of herb?
What tasks are on your to do list these days?






Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Chive Blossoms


Chives are blooming. Time to make some herb butter, chive blossom vinegar, or use them to decorate salads and such.
Edible flowers are fun.

What's blossoming in your world today?
What is your favorite way to use chive blossoms?

Friday, May 6, 2016

Simple Container Herb Garden


Herbs are great in container gardens.  They are content in most pots or planters provided they get the proper amount of water and sunlight.  

In the photo above I planted 4" pots of:
  • lemon verbena
  • stevia
  • pineapple sage  

I like to toss these 3 herbs into a 2 quart jar along with sliced lemons to make a refreshing herb-infused drink for warm weather.  Other herbs or even black or green tea can be added.  I experiment with whatever is growing most abundantly at the time.  The possibilities are almost endless!

Lemon verbena, stevia, and pineapple sage are tender perennials in my area.  They thrive during spring and summer with early morning sun and a daily dousing with the watering can.  In less extreme climates, they will do well with more sun and less frequent watering.  

These herbs will all need protection from freezing come winter, and this old galvanized bucket is easy to carry inside when frost and freezing temps threaten.  

What's growing in your herb garden these days?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Free Cards from the Herbal Academy


In honor of Herbalist Day, April 17th, the Herbal Academy has free downloadable Thank an Herbalist Cards for you.  They are also offering a 15% discount on any of their courses through April 17th. 

Celebrate by downloading and sharing a card with your favorite herbalist and do take advantage of the discount and sign up for a class this spring if you are ready to expand your herbal knowledge.

Blessings,

Catherine


Herbal Academy Courses on SALE!

For those who are considering furthering their herbal education, Herbal Academy is having a sale to celebrate Herbalist Day!  Click below to receive 15% off their courses.


15% off Herbalism Classes Online

*affiliate link in this post.  If you make a purchase after clicking one of these  links, I earn a commission which allows me to buy more herbs for the stillroom!  



Tuesday, April 12, 2016

In Bloom at the Still Room: Feverfew

Feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium 

The Feverfew in my herb border is just beginning to bloom.  I enjoy the pretty white daisy-like flowers it produces.  I must admit that I do not enjoy the scent much, though.  It is a hardy perennial in my area and not only grows with wild abandon but self sows freely.  I have shared plants with friends and still have an abundance of Feverfew herb.  (If you live nearby and would like a plant or 3, let me know!)


Feverfew is used medicinally to reduce fever, hence its name, and is also said to help prevent or relieve migraines.  If you'd like to learn more about the historical uses of this herb, see this page at Botanical.com- Feverfew.

To purchase seeds, dried Feverfew, or a tincture- Mountain Rose Herbs is my supplier of choice for all things herbal.

Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c

Do you grow and/or use Feverfew?  



Herbal Academy Courses

*affiliate link

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Simple Herbal Allergy Relief


A repost from the past, because it is oh so timely right now...

Allergy season is upon us 
I have a simple herbal tonic that I make every year to help prevent and alleviate the misery of sneezing, itchy eyes, and so forth that plagues members of my family.

First I make a nettle infused vinegar and then mix that with local honey to make
Nettle Vinegar & Honey Allergy Tonic.

You will need the following:
  • apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg’s, but any good quality ACV will do)
  • dried nettles (You can use them fresh, which some say work best if they are available. I don’t have that option, and dried has always worked well for me.)
  • local honey (honey produced in your area will contain small amounts of pollen to the flowers growing near you … probably the ones making you sneeze!)
  • a clean canning jar with a lid ( I use a wide-mouth quart size, but you could start with a pint. Also, I use a plastic lid for vinegars … if you don’t have plastic lids, then put a piece of plastic wrap between the jar and the metal lid.)

To make nettle vinegar:
  1. add about 1 cup of nettle to your jar, I just toss in a handful or so (less if using a pint jar)
  2. add enough vinegar to cover nettle by 2-3 inches (you will need to add more as the nettle soaks it up), stir and wait until the nettle settles, adding more vinegar if necessary
  3. Cover the jar with a lid and set it in a sunny spot for 2 weeks or more. Shake jar a few times a day. 
  4. Once your nettle vinegar has infused, strain it through a coffee filter or piece of cheesecloth into a clean jar and it is ready to use. 

If you don’t have weeks to wait for the vinegar to infuse, you can make it more quickly by heating the vinegar/nettle mixture over a very, very low heat for a few hours. Do not boil or even simmer, just heat it enough to be quite warm, a double boiler is a good way to do this, or if your crockpot doesn’t get too hot (mine does even on low), use that. Let cool before straining.

You can use the vinegar as is, or make it even more effective by adding local honey.

  • Add an equal amount of local honey to the nettle vinegar, stir well, cover, and you have Nettle Vinegar and Honey Allergy Tonic 

It is a simple herbal remedy that gives great results for my family.

I take a tablespoon or so two or three times a day mixed in a small amount of water.

A simpler route is to make a quart of nettle tea and sip on that throughout the day; but the honey and ACV are very helpful for allergies, and help with the taste. Nettle tea is not the most palatable of herbal infusions in my opinion.
*Note:  I have found that an infusion of 2 parts Tulsi (Holy Basil) and 1 part Nettle is tastier and also helps with the misery of allergy symptomsSweeten with local honey and it's even better!

Nettle vinegar can also be used in salad dressings and most anywhere you would use apple cider vinegar.  It makes a lovely hair rinse when diluted with water, too.  More reasons to make up a large batch while you're at it!

Note: As always with any herbal information, this is for your educational benefit only, etc., etc. ... Please consult your physician regarding any serious health matters.


How do you treat allergies? Please share your own herbal remedies!

Blessings,
Catherine
You might also 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Spring at the Still Room

The view from my back porch is rain, rain, and more rain, puddles, pools of water, and the fresh green of spring.  I love it!  After a long winter where I sort of hibernated and left this space quiet, I'm ready for the promise of a new season.  I've got a whole lists of projects and plans I want to share with you along with a pile of recipes and other ideas I've collected for the still room.  But first, here's what's happening with the herbs ...

The rosemary that we transplanted at the corner of the back porch 4 years ago is lush and threatening to take over the whole area.  My husband says we shouldn't have planted it there, but I love it right where it is.  I can sit in my chair and enjoy the fragrance and the bees that frequent the blue flowers during this time of year.  It's also quite handy when I want to make pasta sauce or stir up a quick batch of Rosemary Squares.

The newly potted herbs are enjoying the showers and will surely show their thanks by a flush of new growth.  I found a variety of different mints, parsley, and basil at our local Ace Hardware for .99 cents each.  A second bonus was that they were locally grown.  And with my fondness for tiny pots of herbs, I collected as many as my basket and budget would allow!

Lemon balm, mugwort, and feverfew are peeking out to see if spring is indeed here, and and the wildlings such as chickweed, plantain, dandelion, cleavers, and shepherd's purse are popping up with wild abandon, letting me know it's time to make infused oils, salves, spring tonics and so forth.

The borage that self-sowed in the herb border is in bloom.  The otherworldly blue blossoms just begging to be added to a salad or glass of tea.  I saw this simple recipe for Borage face mask somewhere recently:

Borage Face Mask

1 egg white
1 handful of borage flowers and leaves, chopped

Stir together and smooth onto clean face.  Leave on for 5 minutes.  Rinse.

I would follow with a rosewater toner and a bit of Argan oil.

So that's it for now.  A quick update from the still room, with a promise to be back soon.

What's new for you this season?
What are you looking forward to growing or creating with herbs?
Has spring arrived in your area?

Herbal Blessings,

Catherine




Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Rosemary, the Herb of Remembrance


As for rosemary, I let it run all over my garden walls, not
only because my bees love it but because it is the herb
sacred to remembrance and to friendship, whence a
sprig of it hath a dumb language.”
–  Sir Thomas Moore

The bees are having a grand time in the rosemary today.  It is one of my favorite herbs, too.
I'll be gathering sprigs of rosemary on Thanksgiving day, both to flavor the turkey and to grace the table.  Rosemary is lovely in a bouquet, and makes a pretty, fragrant napkin ring when tied with a bit of twine or ribbon.  What better time than Thanksgiving to find all sorts of ways to incorporate the 'herb of remembrance'?

How will you use rosemary in your home this season?

Blessings,

Catherine

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Autumn Apple Crisp

Sharing a simple recipe for cool Autumn days.
This Autumn Apple Crisp is spiced up with some of my favorite autumn herbs: cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg.  It makes a nice dessert or snack, or even breakfast when topped with yogurt.

Autumn Apple Crisp

Preheat oven to 375.
Lightly grease a 2 quart baking dish.

Apple mixture:
2 1/2 pounds apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of cardamom
pinch of nutmeg 

1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. sugar

Toss apples with lemon juice, sugar and spices to coat.
Place in baking dish.

Topping:
6 tbsp. butter cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats (or 1/4 cup oats, 1/4 cup chopped nuts)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cardamom

Use pastry cutter or your fingers to mix butter into other ingredients until you have a coarse, crumbly mixture. Sprinkle over the apples.
Bake until bubbly and brown, about 1 hour.
Serve plain or topped with ice cream, whipped cream or yogurt.

What are your favorite things about Autumn?

What herbs do you use most this time of year?


Herbal Blessings,
Catherine

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Early Bird Specials at HANE

Early Bird Pricing for Herbal Academy

The Herbal Academy of New England has special early bird pricing on all their courses until November 2nd.  Whether you are new to herbalism or wanting to further your education and start your own herbal business, there's something for everyone in their new and expanded course line-up.
I have my eye on one or two options ... maybe an early birthday present for myself?

Herbal Blessings,

Catherine

*affiliate links in post

Monday, October 19, 2015

Autumn Tea Time


There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea. ~Bernard-Paul Heroux

Any season is the season for tea; but autumn breezes, falling leaves, and a steaming pot of tea seem to be made for each other. 
 I have my tea canister filled with an assortment of tea bags- 
Irish Breakfast (my morning wake up brew)
Zen ( a lovely mix of green tea and mint)
Women's Energy 
Chamomile & Lavender (a simple blend of two wonderfully relaxing herbs)
Ceylon (a gift from dear friends in Sri Lanka)
Tulsi (my evening favorite these days)

And in the cabinet, there are quart jars filled with loose leaf teas for brewing with a tea sock, by the cup or by the pot-
Orange Spice (a favorite fall & winter brew)
Fairytale Tea (a sweet blend from Mountain Rose herbs)
Oolong
Assam
Seasons of Discontent (for allergy ridden days)
Jasmine

And of course, the stillroom pantry is stocked with an assortment of herbs for tea-
peppermint
applemint
spearmint
lemon verbena
rosemary
tulsi
chamomile
lavender
rose petals
rose hips
orange peel
cinnamon and other spices ...





A variety of teas, herbs, honey, soy milk, and my favorite cup- autumn tea time bliss!

What is your favorite autumn tea?

Blessings,

Catherine
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