Sunday, June 13, 2010

Flowers and Candy...and Wounds?

Ooh, it is a kitchen day!  Free of crazy four year old twins, Stone and I created some scrumptiousness that had been in the kitchen queue for a while.

Seaweed gomasio set it all off.  The smell of gently toasting sesame seeds wafting through the house in enough, but add a little bit o sea salt, some kelp powder and dulse flakes, and wow!  We top salads, greens, any roasted or sauteed veggie, eggs, and everything in between with gomasio.  The seaweed is my personal favorite because of its enhanced nutrient qualities.  Check out Susun Weed's fabulous seaweed article to find out everything it can do for you!

I couldn't stop there, we moved on to pasteli, a Greek honey sesame candy, a recipe found at Nourished Kitchen.  I adapted it a bit by using rose infused honey and adding local bee pollen.  So good!  By this time I was feeling inspired, so we headed outside for some foraging.

There were still plenty of luscious dandelion and young yellowdock greens to be had, not to mention daylily, elder, and red clover flowers.  Um, fritters!!!  So, adapting Rosalee de la Foret's recipe found in her Wild Foods Cookbook (available from Herbmentor only as far as I know, but check out Rosalee's blog and see what you can find) to our gluten-free, dairy-free home, we had fritters of all three flowers.  I used half garbanzo bean and half brown rice flour (a rare treat, we are pretty grain-less all around) instead of wheat flour, and seasoned lightly with rosemary and thyme (I didn't want to overpower the flavor of the flowers).  Phenomenal.  My men were shoveling them in with no room for comment.  That is what I like at the dinner table :)

After dinner we headed out to harvest some more elderflowers for wine.  We had to climb, or scramble, over a fence to get there.  Silly me, skirt, fence climbing...massive chunk of flesh missing from my thigh.  It was actually hanging off of the wire...gross.  Besides the pain, I am a little excited because this is the first wound I have had in years, and I get to practice treating an especially nasty one!  In the field I dressed it in plantain until I could get home.  After rinsing, I have dressed it in honey and "bandaged" it with a plantain leaf.  It is feeling much better, and tomorrow I will probably apply my all-purpose yarrow, plantain and neem salve.  I am waiting for the beginning of a scab before applying comfrey, which I think will be needed as it is pretty wide, but nice and jagged for strong healing. 

Exciting stuff, eh?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Elder Essence

After an entire day away from home (always exhausted by that), I managed to get a little harvesting/foraging done before bedtime.  Some young yellow dock leaves and dandelion for breakfast or lunch tomorrow, whatever red clover that was in the yard, and huge, heavy elder blossoms!  I am planning a bigger expedition tomorrow with even bigger plans for herbal preparations.  We'll see how that goes.  The elders are exploding, and those sweet fragrant blossoms do not last long.  Tinctures, elixirs, vinegars, and honeys are all on the list, and I usually make flower essences, too, but I seem to be well stocked on those at the moment.   I need to find a new plant for this though, as it is one of my favorite preparations to make.  So ritualistic.

And flower essences are so gentle.  The vibrational "thumbprints" of flowers, they work in the body on an energetic level, appropriate for all.  I especially like to use them with children, very effective. Click the link for more info.

According to various sources, elder flower essence elder stimulates energy, vigor, resilience, joy, and our powers of recovery and renewal.  Others have experienced greater connection with their inner source of youthfulness, and others point to its use with those "feeling their age" and feeble elders.  For me, elder's fortitude, strength, and aid in healing both physical and emotional resonate with me most deeply.  I have experienced her powers of renewal deeply and directly.  I often take it in emotionally troubling times, when I feel exhausted and hopeless.  I like to add a few drops to elderberry syrups and elixirs, as well as other healing blends.  When it is healing that's needed, I feel that elder essence is an appropriate addition to most formulas.

Making a flower essence:

  • Fill a wide and shallow glass bowl (your choice of size) with spring water.  Not tap water, not overly filtered "dead" water.  
  • Cover the surface with flower blossoms of your choice.
  • Leave the bowl in strong afternoon sun for at least 3hrs up to however many you are called to leave it.  Rest the bowl on a brick, stone, etc., NOT grass or any other plant.  We are imprinting vibrations here, so purity is essential.
  • Strain the flowers out.  Whatever amount of water you have, or choose to use, add an equal amount of brandy.  This is your mother essence.
  • From this mixture, take 10-20 drops and add it to a 1oz bottle of spring water.  This is your stock bottle.  You may now take the essence directly, or add it to water.  Frequency, not quantity of dosage is important with flower essences.  A single dose is helpful in acute situations, but if it is a more chronic issue you are moving through, physiological or emotional, adding it to the water you drink all day is best.
  • Remember, flower essences are vibrational remedies.  Crudely put, the blueprint of a plant's electrical frequency in water (again, check out the above link for more eloquent explanations).  Some say yes, others say no, I say that strong electromagnetic fields DO have an effect on flower essences (they have an effect on our DNA, no?), so keep them away from the computer and cell phone especially, and don't store them on or above the fridge or other appliance.  I follow these guidelines with all of my herbal preparations. 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Few Gems

Today was a little rough around the edges, as some days go.  There were a few gems to be salvaged...

Decanting of all things rose...honey, vinegar, elixir, and infused almond oil.  Yes, the oil IS divine, and I'm so glad the almond held up without going rancid on me.

A little weeding was done around the squash and cucumbers...or should I say a little meditation was done around the squash and cukes?

I managed to harvest a few fabulous elder blossoms before the evening rain.  They are now marinating in a bath of raw honey.  This is my very favorite infused honey.  Of course I eat it, blend it with medicines, but I also wash my face with it on special occasions.  I am back to honey as my daily face wash and I wonder why I ever deviate from that?  Delicious, luxurious, affordable, and I LOVE what it does for my face.  Oooh, thinking I might make up a scrub...

An afternoon snack an siesta on the front porch while we watched it rain.  There was a little nudity and raindrop bathing, too.  I decided to move our antique card table and chairs out to the porch for an outdoor eating area.  The porch is shaded all day and the kitchen gets hard evening sun, so I forsee a lot of dinners being eaten out there.  Today, we at breakfast out there, too.

We planted a few winter squash seeds...spaghetti, bush buttercup, Jeff Poppin's accidental pumpkin cross, butternut, and seminole (a native).   This was challenging considering the 21 month old and two little bouncy, ankle-biting puppies.  Jeez.  Everything Sophie, Emma, and I did was nearly undone two or three times!

Well, now there is some serious bath splashing (after the rain bath they covered their naked bodies in sunflower seed butter, go figure) and soon Daniel will be home.  Aaaah.  Feels good just thinking about back-up sometimes.  But before anymore relaxation happens, I need to figure out what fabulous dinner we are going to have on the front porch :)

What were the gems of your day today?  Please share!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Little Pukey-Pants

Illness: the opportunity to watch the healing powers at work.  

When involved with the work of healing, children are a blessing.   Amazing healers and teachers themselves, it takes fortitude and courage on the part of the parent/herbalist to step back and let the process unfold.  If we can hold back and not rush to STOP! the illness, but support the body's own healing response only, true transformation can occur.  If not artificially ended, childhood illness, especially when fever is present, can render a child stronger, more robust, and ready to take on the next task of growing, physically and emotionally.

We are experiencing a little fever and a some vomiting around here today, otherwise known as pukey-pants.  What is needed to deal with this situation?   Of course rest and some gentle loving are essential to healing in any situation, but we need to address hydration, calming the child, and calming the stomach.

First of all, keeping the child hydrated is the best way to support their healing.  We make a home made electrolyte drink:
1 cup of water (hibiscus or lemonbalm tea work well here, too.  Be creative)
1/8 tsp sea salt or other real salt (himalayan, mineral, etc.)
1/4 tsp baking soda
2-3 Tbs raw honey  

We make our own, although good ones are available at health food stores.  Gatorade is not an electrolyte drink, it is artificial colors and high fructose corn syrup.  These things never helped anyone heal.

So, now you know how to use those infused honeys.  I like to use a combination of ginger infused honey, and a lemonbalm one.  Lemonbalm covers a lot of bases, helping calm the child as well as the spasmodic stomach while providing antiviral protection, and ginger can quell the nausea and kill the bug that might be causing the illness, bacterial or viral. 

The electrolyte drink with infused honey is my first supportive measure, but an old favorite combination is also helpful here, chamomile and peppermint.  I offer small sips of the infusion to help calm the stomach.  Other options might include catnip, red raspberry or blackberry leaf.  

Infused honey:

Making an infused honey really couldn't be simpler, but do it now so you have them on hand, whether for illness or pleasure!  Ginger, turmeric, elder flower, honeysuckle, lemonbalm, mint, rose, and ground ivy are just a few delicious and medicinal options.  Ginger infused honey will be found in our refrigerator year round (that's where you want to keep them).  Just fill a jar of your choice loosely with the herb/flower, then fill it up with good quality raw honey and put a lid on it.  Put it in an obvious place so you remember to turn or shake the jar a few times a day.  After 3-5 days, strain and enjoy :)  Straining is easier than it sounds b/c the honey is much thinner because it has pulled the liquid from the herb.  Don't forget to finger-lick the strainer!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Nothing is Lost

I feel like I have been gone too long, but it was just long enough to step back and redirect.  After just a short time of writing, I was lacking inspiration and none too thrilled about my blog entries.  I now feel motivated to move forward.

That moving forward seems to be the theme around here.  Our families space has been a bit like the weather forecast recently, cloudy all day and watch out for those scattered but severe thunderstorms in the afternoon.  I have been feeling stuck in a negative headspace and heartspace, but I am working with it, trying not to resist, and always looking for the lessons of love hidden inside.  I think we are all moving towards a more sunny place, and I hope Mother Nature wants to follow.  Everyday I look outside with longing at all of that soaking wet red clover I long to pick and dry for infusions, but lately, it has been the elder captivating my attention.  I catch myself gazing out of the kitchen window daily at her developing flower buds.

In a difficult moment yesterday I stepped outside into the drizzling rain to try and get a new perspective.  I looked out onto my bountiful, medicinal land and demanded "Which of you is going to help me?".  If made with an earnest heart, I feel the plants do not rebuke or shy away from those with demands.  I needed them.  I stood, waiting, looking from plant to plant, spirit to spirit, trying my best to quiet the turmoil inside and listen.   It was the elder who called me.  I went, barefoot into the tall grass and shin deep ground ivy, stopped and overcame my paralyzing fear of snakes (a metaphor for larger fears I assure you), and stood under her sweeping, blossom laden branches.  She didn't want me to take her medicine, she's not quite ready for full bloom yet, but allowed me to be cradled in her comfort.  A moment of peace, real peace, is what she gave me.  My tears turned from sorrow to release, joy, and gratitude.  I can heal, I can regenerate body and soul.  Learn from this moment.  Nothing is lost.