Goats, rabbits, chickens (pages)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tea, Please

BRRRRRR... It was 4 degrees when I got up today. Now that calls for TEA!! And I don't mean reach for the tea bags. There's something about preparing your own food, digging in and making something from scratch. It's satisfying. It's warm and fuzzy. And, we herbalists swear that when you make it yourself you are putting your own energy into it, making it your own, making it better, making it healthier.

So, how about Cinnamon Mint. It's good hot or cold, but especially HOT on cold days like today.

8 cups water
3 cinnamon sticks
dozen mint leaves or 3 TBL dried
Pinch of cinnamon powder

Bring water to boil, add cinnamon sticks. Simmer covered about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, add tea leaves and cinnamon powder and steep another five minutes. Strain and sweeten (honey, molasses or stevia are good choices), lemon optional.

Mint is an excellent digestive aid and great for upset tummies. Cinnamon is also good for digestion and is anti-septic, warming, anti-cloting, anti-microbial and helps with blood sugar control.

This planter is full of mint with some other herbs thrown in for good measure.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Rocky Creek Farm

I have been busy as a bee getting a Rocky Creek Farm facebook page up and running so this blog has taken the back seat in the old herb wagon. Bet you didn't know they had a back seat, did ya?!

The page will outline our vision of the Farm, keep you posted on our progress, show our products and host discussions. Please join us on facebook by clicking on the facebook badge on the right and become a fan. Check back often!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fiber Up!

What is it about that word that makes half of us cringe and the other half giggle? Fiber should be your friend whether or not you have beFriended it or not. Fiber is first class for diets to loose weight as it fills you up not out. And, if you have a blood sugar problem you should embrace fiber; it will keep you well balanced and sane. Fiber helps ward off chronic diseases, cancer and cardiovascular issues. With all these things going for it you'd think we would flock to get on the fiber apple cart and yet most of us only get about 14 grams when we need 25-35 grams. And, it's readily available; not like you have to slave for hours in the kitchen. So, re-think your take on fiber, after all it is getting close to resolution-time.

Let's take apples. An American staple. Here's a photo of the only apple to "make it" from my apple tree. Apples have more fiber than any other fruit, in fact, twice as much. And if you have a problem with cholesterol, apple is your guy. Just don't peel it. An apple has 3.5 grams of fiber but if you peel it you cut that more than half. And, for heavens sake, don't drink the juice instead: JUST EAT THE APPLE!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Lemon-Garlic Marinade

I'm for getting garlic into you anyway we can. If you've heard me speak or read my writings you know garlic is my number one favorite for a couple of reasons. First, it's available! Anyone can get garlic. Sometimes herbs are not all that handy especially if you don't grow them; at best they require a trip to the grocer or the health food store at worst the one you want is so obscure you have to special order or go to the net. But, good ol' garlic is ubiquitous. Second, because garlic is antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic, antiparasitic, antiprotozoan, antiviral, antifungal, anthelmintic, immune-stiumulating, hypotensive, diaphoretic, antispasmodic and a cholagogue it is sooooo good for everything! And, aside from grapefruit seed extract, garlic is the most powerful herb against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Gone are the times when you needed "a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down". Use more garlic in cooking and being healthy never tasted so good.

Here's a link to a video on making a lemon-garlic marinade. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEKjMzp82rM

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Calorie Count

Ahhhh...turkey day is over but left overs linger on. And not just in the refrigerator. I'm afraid to step on the scales. I keep them beside the tread mill and have scrupulously avoided them. I know I had far too many calories; one year I actually tabulated how many and that euphoric-dreamy-triptophan induced state suddenly self-destructed. (A side note: that relaxed stupor probably did not come from the turkey. Triptophan usually does not make you sleepy unless you don't eat any protein with it..which is kind of hard to do when eating turkey! Your comatose state is more likely caused by a carb glut or alcohol!) Just for kicks I looked up how many calories are required for individual activities.

Cassi (our miniature Australian Shepherd) fell into the fish pond so she needed a bath (big time-and it was her first). Bathing her burned 46 calories, (So is that like one bite of pumpkin pie a la mode?) whereas bathing myself only took 20 calories. That doesn't compute--I'm bigger so shouldn't it burn more calories to bath me? If I had showered I would only have burned 17 calories. But, then, I don't think they took into account my article on "How and Why To Take A Shower (see 11-8 blog); I'm sure all that scrubbing takes more energy.

A ten minute play/exercise period with Cassi only burns 26 calories; man, wow, is that all? Watering all my wintering-over herbs and houseplants takes 46 calories; maybe I should have brought in more. A 30 minute Yoga workout takes 65 calories--go Yoga! Those of you who know me know that I like to iron--it usually takes me an hour--goodbye 130 calories, woohoo. Sweeping all the stuff your holiday company tracked in uses only 29 calories, drat. And, the real shocker: sex only takes 10 calories. Huh? No comment.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Nourishing healthy soup for chilly days...


Living with one's own personal chef has its perks! Here's one of Gary's best creations: French Onion Soup. He fixed it for us the other day along with the best cheese toast you've ever tasted; OMGsh, I thought I'd died and gone to culinary heaven. Not only is this soup delicious, it is soooo good for you. (See Nov 10 post about garlic). So, here you go...good eating.

Chef Gary's French Onion Soup (www.chefgw.com)
1 white, 1 red, 3 sweet onions
5 cloves garlic
3 T Butter
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme (1 tsp dried)
3 quarts beef broth (please use organic all-natural)
2 T apple cider vinegar
1/4 c Marsala or Port wine
1 tsp raw sugar
3 shots Worcestershire sauce

Saute onions in butter until clear. Add other ingredients, simmer uncovered until reduced to about two quarts. Salt to taste. Serves about six. YUMMMMMM!

Chef Gary's French Onion Soup (www.chefgw.com)
1 white, 1 red, 3 sweet onions
5 cloves garlic
3 T Butter
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme (1 tsp dried)
3 quarts beef broth (please use organic all-natural)
2 T apple cider vinegar
1/4 c Marsala or Port wine
1 tsp raw sugar
3 shots Worcestershire sauce

Saute onions in butter until clear. Add other ingredients, simmer uncovered until reduced to about two quarts. Salt to taste. Serves about six. YUMMMMMM!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Winter Sunshine...

Sunshine Tea-- In sickness and in health. I formulated this tea for my grandchildren as a substitute for soda drinks and that stuff with red dye! They love it. I always think I’ve made plenty and I always run out. These ingredient descriptions will give you an idea why my Sunshine Tea is a favorite with aduls and children.

INGREDIENTS:
Catnip Nepeta cataria

Catnip is a bushy herb native to Europe but now very common in America and Canada. It's name reflects the inability of cats to resist its aroma. Our kitty, Professor April McGonnagal, loves it when it's time to harvest the catnip! I grow plenty--enough for me and the neighborhood cats. For the feline population catnip elicits feelings ranging from frisky to euphoria and may include sexual stimulation. In many parts of the world it is used as bait to trap wild cats. It has the opposite effect on humans giving us that wonderful alert calmness. The essential oil sesquiterpee lactones is chemically similar to those found in valarian root which is also a sedative herb. Traditionally catnip has been used for insomnia, indigestion, nervousness, flatulence, coughs, colds and fever. High in potassium, it helps to replace valuable minerals lost in sweating during exercise or fever. Catnip/mint tastes mild and is safe for children.

German Chamomile Matricaria recutia

Chamomile was one of the best known herbs during the Middle Ages its use common and widespread. Native to Eurasia, Egyptians revered its curative powers and dedicated it to their gods. Today it is widely cultivated and with its little sunshine-like flowers that have a mild apple taste it is the most popular tea flavor in the world. Aside from its use as a medicinal herb, it is also used as flavoring in a variety of foods and alcoholic beverages such as vermouth, in hair products and used as a hair colorant. Chamomile is studied extensively and most of its folk uses have been chemically verified. Chamomile is anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, anti-spasmodic, anti-thrombotic, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal especially against gram positive (staph) and candida. It is an excellent nervine and carminative (good for those nasty tummy upsets). Chamomile has a wide nutritional profile: is very high in niacin, high in magnesium, phosphorus, riboflavin and also contains vitamins A and C. I love to stroll through my chamomile bed just to smell it. Chamomile is safe for children. Caution if you suffer seasonal allergies.

Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis

Definitely one of my favorites, I grow massive amounts of Lemon Balm. Its lemony fragrance and taste lends itself to many applications in culinary circles. Lemon Balms carminative and anti-spasmodic qualities relieves digestive spasms and flatulence. It's wonderful for the nervous system relieving stress reactions and tension and is one of my best herbs for anxiety induced migraines, insomnia and palpitations. It works almost magically between the digestive tract and the nervous system calming both in tandem. Its diaphoretic action makes it an excellent choice during cold and flu fevers. Lemon Balm causes mild vasodialation so is good for helping lower blood pressure.

Sunshine Tea or the individual herbs can be prepared hot or cold. ICED: Pour one quart of boiling water over 3 Tablespoons herb(s), steep covered for 10-15minutes. Add lemon and/or honey to taste. I cut up a whole lemon in the pitcher…yummm. HOT: Especially good this time of year and wonderful just before bedtime. 1 tsp per cup hot water, steep 3-4 minutes covered. Add lemon and/or honey to taste. If you must use sugar, please don’t use the white processed kind.

My herbs are grown with no herbicides, pesticides or chemicals of any kind.
Sunshine Tea is available at www.GBHfarm.com

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wolf in Sheeps Clothing...Soy

Whenever I have cautioned folks about eating soy I almost always get the raised eyebrow, the doubtful look in their eye. So, whenever I find supporting documentation, I always like to share with you. An article recently posted on AlterNet.org outlines some of the most hazardous and alarming components about consuming soy.

Soy's money making abilities soared from $300 million in 1992 to $4 billion in 2008. Over 3/4 of our processed food and almost all of our fast food contain soy. Hamburger--in there, mac and cheese, salad dressings, even chicken nuggets..it's in there. Mary Vance for Terrain Magazine wrote: "It hides in tofu dogs under aliases such as textured vegetable protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, and lecithin--which is troubling, since the processing required to hydrolyze soy protein into vegetable protein produces excitotoxins such as glutamate (think MSG) and aspartate (a component of aspartame), which cause brain-cell death."

Whenever something is making money, it's hard to pull it from the shelves and will only happen if consumers step in and make their wishes known where it will be heard, in the billfold. READ LABELS. ASK QUESTIONS.

In 2000 the American Heart Association and the FDA couldn't say enough good things about soy. Now, the American Heart Association has ever so behind the scenes pulled its support from soy. This quiet little move has gone unheralded in the media. New research continues to highlight potential risk and diminish the so-called health benefits of soy.

Now don't get me wrong, soy can be healthy -- in small FERMENTED doses. For the second time this month I am going to recommend Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon...available in "My Favorites" in the right hand column of my blog. Sally shares with us the outstanding health benefits of fermented foods. As usual, Americans went overboard and skewed the health aspects of soy into money makers and lost all the good stuff in the process.

In addition, we have the genetically engineered soy to think about. Part of the modification is allowing soy to withstand MORE herbicide and pesticide chemicals to be dumped on the fields this is not only polluting our health more than usual, but destroying our soil and water. And, we have no idea, yet, of the harmful effects it will reap on our bodies after long term consumption.

Here is the link: www.alternet.org The War on Soy: Why the 'Miracle Food' May Be a Health Risk and Environmental Nightmare

Please read the entire article for yourself.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Some Like It Hot-Some Like It Not

America is getting hot. No, nothing to do with global warming and everything to do with diet. Spicy has taken on a new meaning across the fruited plains and spacious sky. I can remember when restaurants hardly ever had any choices that were beyond salt and pepper. Now, dishes are replete with mouth watering herbs (many of them fresh)and tantalizing spices, many of them HOT.

I have always had the opportunity to try "hot" on my food as my dad kept cayenne peppers in a small condiment bottle of apple cider vinegar on the table right along with the salt and pepper. This was great to give a little punch to steamed vegetables and for the brave at heart, to splash on salad. We also had a bottle of crushed red peppers for sprinkling on mashed potatoes, on grilled tomatoes and onions for a little extra kick. I strung peppers like popcorn and hung them in garlands on the back porch to watch them turn beautiful flaming oranges, reds and yellows; I learned the hard way to keep your fingers away from your face in in the process.

Cayenne is my favorite pepper; I just picked the last of them from the garden. They are one of the main ingredients in my immune tonic Lizzy's Elixir and a staple in the kitchen. The source of Cayenne's heat is the resin capsaisin which is responsible for the many healing qualities cayenne brings us. It is such a remarkable stimulant I can scarcely comprehend why it isn't "prescribed" by more physicians. It is wonderful for the cardiovascular system and is often said to be the "herbal nitro" for heart attack victims. Capsaisin works a tonic and stimulant to the gastro-intestinal track by nudging the appetite, helping with digestion and facilitating peristalsis. If you are feeling sluggish, moving slow, have cold hands and feet and just all around down-in-the-dumps try a few sprinkles of the apple cider vinegar/cayenne mix in a bit of water. Forget Red Bull--it's like a little jolt of healthy energy.

Cayenne boosts effectiveness of other herbs and is full of vitamins A, B and C. Calcium and potassium are great for your heart and are found in good portions in cayenne.

I have clients and family who shy away from anything hot, but the benefits are so hefty, it pays to work at acquiring the taste for spicy. But if you just cannot abide cayenne, try ginger.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

GREAT AMERICAN SMOKE OUT


Today is dedicated to my mother, Emma Mckee. She started smoking at 15 and didn't stop until it was too late. Emphysema and heart disease strangled and choked her to death at only 69. In June of this year we signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act that requires tobacco companies to dedicate 50% of the cigarette package--front and back--to warn people of the harmful effects of cigarettes on health. Bravo. But, it still isn't enough.

Today is one of my favorite days...the Great American Smoke Out. It's a day of hope. A day to start anew to kick a killer habit. It's day one. It isn't easy, I watch friends and clients try to quit the habit only to be sucked right back into it. So, today could be your day.

I recommend a five point herbal program to support your body during tobacco withdrawal: 1) nerve repair 2)lung cleanse 3)cravings 4)purifying (detox) 5)water.
The full program is on my website: www.GBHfarm.com Click on Articles/Quit smoking.

Here's to you, you can do it. Go get 'em.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Aspertame War

OK, that does it. Here is yet another study on the danger of artificial sweeteners and yet we continue to guzzle, sprinkle and put it in our food by the cupfuls. On November 2, 2009 Science Daily reported on a new artificial sweetener study. Three thousand women participated in this Nurses Health Study. The research was conducted by Julie Lin MD, MPH, FASN and Gary Curhan MD, ScD, FASN of Brigham and Women's Hospital. Their conclusion and the subsequent presentation at the American Society of Nephrology's annual meeting in San Diego stated that drinking two or more drinks with artificial sweetener a day may lead to a two-fold incease in kidney decline.

Aspertame is one of the leading culprits that is unabashedly poured into over 6,000 products on our grocery shelves and restaurant menus. The FDA has received more reports about the negative responses to Aspertame than any other sweetener. There are more than 900 published studies about its damaging effects on health and over 10,000 documented reports of adverse reactions including death. OMGsh, if there were half, a third, a quarter, a FRACTION of that many adverse reports on any herb it would be touted all over the media with action groups vieing to remove it from public access.
Wake up, people, Aspertame is dangerous. It increases dopamine levels in your brain which can lead to symptoms of depression by distorting your serotonin/dopamine balance. By this same mechanism it can lead to migraines and brain tumors. Asptertame is an excitotoxin which causes brain cells to become over excited and die. Imagine a hamster than can't get off the exercise wheel. Excitotoxins also cause decreased brain synapses and connecting fibers thus decreasing your mental acuity. I don't know about you, but I need to ADD these not decrease them. And, if that isn't enough, Aspertame also breaks down to formaldehyde and methanol; wonderful, just what we all want in our bodies.
Aspertame is not the only villain in your sweet arsenal; the others have horror stories as well, but it's a place to start. Begin today. Wean yourself off Aspertame. You can do it. You would not eat or drink anything that listed arsenic or any other poison as an ingredient. Think of Aspertame as a poison. Condition yourself to cringe at the mention of it just as you would arsenic. Come on folks, use your brain while you still can!! This is war!
On November 2, 2009 Science Daily reported on a new artificial sweetner study. Three thousand women participated in this Nurses Health Study. The research was conducted by Julie Lin MD, MPH, FASN and Gary Curhan MD, ScD, FASN of Brigham and Women's Hospital. Their conclusion and the subsequent presentation at the American Society of Nephrology's annual meeting in San Diego stated that drinking two or more drinks with artificial sweetener a day may lead to a two-fold incease in kidney decline.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cold Day: Hot Herbal Chai

I have several herbal chai recipes, but I love this one from John and Kimberly Gallagher.
· 3 ½ cups of boiling water
· 2 Cinnamon sticks
· 1 Tablespoon fresh Ginger, grated
· 1 whole Nutmeg, chopped
· 1 Tablespoon Cardamom seed pods
· 1 Tablespoon Astragulus root
· ½ tsp. whole Cloves
· ¼ tsp. black Peppercorns
· ½ tsp. Anise seeds
· ½ tsp. whole Allspice
· ½ tsp. Echinacea root
Simmer 15 min. If you want, add 1/8 cup black tea after removing from heat and steep for 3 more minutes. Strain.
· Add ¼ cup warm milk and honey to taste.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Oats..not just for horses.


If you know me at all you know that I preach and teach oats. It's my personal doctrine, my nutrition dogma. Every November I make it my personal agenda to make sure everyone hears again how important this little grain is to your health. It is so simple and so cheap I can't understand why everyone does not eat it. It is SO good for your body systems: digestive, cardiovascular, muscular and depending on your choice of added toppings you can pretty much include every other system. Fighting cholesterol is on America's mind..this is a simple thing to help you with that.

My answer to eating oatmeal AND complying with America's number one mantra, QUICK AND EASY, is the Oatmeal Station. Yes, it deserves capitals. The premise is simple: One large container of oatmeal and several small containers of toppings. Think of it as an ice cream buffet only when you finish this you can feel good about yourself.

It's important to set up the containers of oatmeal and toppings to comply with the QUICK and EASY part. Let's face it, if you and your family have to find the boxes, drag out the boxes, put away the boxes they WON'T. And, you won't. Line up your containers on your counter like little health warriors. It doesn't matter if they match. Be creative. Glass is best; plastic is worst. I purchased small 1/8 measuring cups to go in each container.

In your selection of oats, steel-cut or cracked is best, rolled is next and instant is a big fat NO. Steel-cut/cracked should be soaked overnight to not only hasten preparation of the morning feast but to allow enzymes to break down and neutralize the phytic acid. (An enemy of mineral absorption). Soaked oats are ready to go come morning or if you are using rolled oats just pop them in a pan, add some water and heat. I don't even do that much. I put my oats right in the bowl, add hot water, let it sit a minute, add my toppings and down the hatch.

There are two resounding, uncompromising, non-negotiable items in a healthy oatmeal bar. No microwaves. No white sugar. Come on, how long does it take to heat water? Invest in a tea kettle. It's your health we're talking about here. We have a hot/cold water dispenser so it's super easy.

So, have a go...as always, if you have questions just shoot me an email: elizabeth@GBHfarm.com. Or comments are welcome here.

Again, be creative; here's a list of toppings to get you started:
Raisins, any dried fruit (natural NOT sulphured), frozen fruit, unsweetened coconut, any kind of nuts, natural flavorings like vanilla or almond, wheat germ and yogurt.
Sweeteners: honey, maple syrup (real not fake), stevia, molasses, date sugar, malted grain syrups and as a last resort raw sugar.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Vitamin D and Flu

In lieu of my regular herbal column today I am posting this link to one of my mentors to stress to you the importance of Vitamin D in flu prevention. It's just short of 10 minutes but well worth your time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpQ4HMfi3gs&feature=channel_page

Green Blessings...have a monumental day. :) e

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lavender - diverse and all-inclusive

Ahhh, a new day. Just finished taking some early morning photographs of my pansies (they love these cold mornings) and exercising our new puppy, Cassi, so my brain is awake and ready to roll.



Yesterday I decided to make some Kava Kava decoction. (Simmer root for 3-4 minutes, turn off heat, steep for 3 hours. Reheat--on the stove, not the microwave--strain, add more water and honey to taste. This is super to drink before bedtime). I used a small metal tray for the lid as the pan I was using did not have a lid. When I took the tray off to check the Kava, I didn't use a hot pad. How old am I and how long have I been using the stove?! Why do we do these things. Anyway, I burnt my thumb and fingers. OW. You all know how that feels. I almost always have a small bottle of lavender essential oil in my pocket for life's little emergencies. I put on a few drops and the pain immediately subsided. After about two minutes, the pain returned and I applied more lavender. It never hurt again and this morning the burn is just a memory. Those flat telltale burn marks on the skin are not sore or red. I have witnessed this over and over through the years and still it makes me smile.

Lavender is so well known that we often take for granted its many qualities in the medicinal, cosmetic and culinary worlds. Lavender water has many applications and is simple to make: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 2 tsp dried lavender flowers. Steep in a covered container for 15 minutes. Drink as a hot or cold tea, soak cloth and put over forehead and eyes for tension headache or dab on temples and back of neck, use in recipes in place of required liquid, spray on bed linens, spray on ironing, bathwater, facial and hair rinse...use your imagination!

One of my lavender beds


Lavender grows well here in the Midwest; it is very tolerant and forgiving of our up/down weather. She likes soil that is well-drained and on the limey side and she loves the sun so don't plant her in shade. They will grow from seeds but be patient, they are VERY slow to germinate.

Lavender sugar is popular and has been around for a loooong time as shown in this recipe: "Conserve of the Flowers of Lavender' Take the flowers being new so many as you please, and beat them with three times their weight of white sugar, after the same manner as rosemary flowers; they will keep one year.' The Queen's Closet Opened by W.M.Cook 1655

Have a monumental day and green blessings,
elizabeth :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Herbal Antibiotics

Actually, that is such a misnomer...antibiotic means against life and herbs are anything but. However, folks know what that means...herbs that kill germs! This is one of my more popular classes so thought I would share some of the info here.

Cornell University did a study on several herbs and determined what percentage of bacteria they actually killed. Go Cornell. Let's discuss the top four: Garlic, onions, allspice and oregano. I like to call them the fantastic four. They kill 100% of bad bacteria. Yes, 100%. So, if you are coming down with cold or flu, eat all you can of these wonderful herbs. Garlic and onions will go on practically anything. When someone in our household starts to "feel" it, you know what I mean, that vague itch in the back of your throat, unexplained soreness or eyes that just don't want to stay open, we load up on garlic and onion. It goes in the main entree, in the salad, on the sandwich, in the soup. Infuse some garlic and onions in a bit of olive oil (please, never use mineral oil) for a few hours and massage it onto the bottoms of your feet, heat some socks in the microwave (one of the few things I approve for its use!), pull them on your feet and slip into bed. If you are prone to earaches, just use the garlic and olive oil and put one drop into your ear--warm it first.

I like to use allspice in my winter warming stovetop simmer. Throw in any spices that please you...I like allspice, clove, cinnamon & vanilla but you can use anything. Let it gently simmer on a back burner diffusing its moisturizing, healing properties, germ killing power and heavenly scent into your air. It will smell like the holiday season!

Oregano can be purchased in a small dropper bottle. It's great at getting flu germs. Remember, a little goes a LONG way. We got a little over enthusiastic in my family one time and ended up with blisters in the mouth. Ouch. That happens to guinea pigs occasionally in an herbalist family! It's worth the trial. I guess I can say that since it wasn't my mouth!

So, get to the store and stock up. You never know when something will hit you and yours.

Oregano in my winter window...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sweet Potato

I'm trying to concentrate and the little female cardinal I wrote about back in March is STILL banging herself against my office window. How can she have any brains left...not that she had any to begin with. It's hard to believe it's fall, over 70 degrees two days in a row, green grass and a geranium blooming on the patio.

We continue to pack things over to Rocky Creek. We've done so much work here at Nodaway Hill; the gardens are fertile, friable and full of worms. (The good kind). I feel wistful about leaving them.

Another word about the flu: in addition to the good lymph massage I discussed yesterday, eat sweet potatoes!! (Preferably not at the same time). I purchased a case of dirty potatoes at farmers market--they keep better if they are not washed prior to storing. This bright beauty has so many good things in it, it's a wonder sunshine doesn't burst right out of it.

Carotene (vit A), Vitamin C, maganese, copper, B6, potassium, iron and fiber. You'll need to eat a little fat with the potato to convert the caroten to vitamin A, but that's ok because it only starts out with 95 calories. It packs a whollop of anti-oxident and anti-inflammatory properties both of which are associated with reducing the development of atherosclerosis, diabetic heart disease, and colon cancer. They are also helpful in reducing the severity of osteoarthritis,asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

B6 converts homocysteine into benign molecules; high homocysteine levels are associated with heart attack and stroke.

Richard Baybut, an associate professor of nutrition at Kansas State discovered that a carcinogen in cigarette smoke-benzoapyreine-destroys vitamin A. His earlier research proved that animals deprived of vitamin A developed emphesema. Conversely, his recent studies show that diets with ample vitamin A reduces emphesema. Since sweet potatoes have 262.2% of our daily requirement--pass the sweet potatoes, please.

Here's a super-simple receipe for tonights dinner from "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon. (This book is one of my picks available in the right column).

Sweet Potato Dollars
3-4 sweet potatoes
3 Tbls melted butter
3 Tbls extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
Peel, slice crosswise in approx. 1/4-inch intervals. Brush two cookie sheets with melted butter/olive oil mix. Arrange in one layer, brush with remaining butter/oil. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

How and Why To Take A Shower

Now I'm not talking hygiene and/or olfactory reasons for showering. I'm guessing we all know the basics. I mean showering for your health. Not just to kill the beasties that could make you ill but for stimulating your immune system, especially the lymph glands. Your lymph system is the garbage truck of your body; it travels all over picking up waste, getting rid of all that nasty stuff that can make you sick. The only trouble is, it doesn't come with it's own power supply. Your blood has the heart to pump it all around and up and down. Lymph is pushed by muscle and if your not moving, lymph is not moving. I'm always trying to get my clients to WALK WALK WALK..it's good on so many levels. The large muscles in your legs really get that lymph flowing. A good massage will also move the lymph which takes us back to the showers. Get yourself one of those little nylon scrunchy things...they are very cheap; I saw a whole bin full the other day for a dollar each. A soft luffa or just a wash cloth will work. Your shower water temp should be tepid not scalding. Lather up your scrunchy, take deep slow breaths and starting with your face wash in small circular motions. (Use an all natural soap not harsh detergents or deodorant soap) DON'T SCRUB. Just apply gently pressure down your neck, shoulders, arms, hands. Then the under arms and breasts. There are a lot of lymph glands here ladies don't be shy about massaging those breasts. Go around each breast several times, then reverse the order and don't forget the nipples. Work your way down the body paying particular attention to the thighs going all the way to the toes. By the time you are finished your body will be glowing, your lymph will be flowing and your brain synapses will be snapping. This is a super-duper-waker-upper and much healthier than your morning dose of caffeine! This gentle massage gets your systems up and running, puts a sparkle in your eye, a witty repartee on the tip of your tongue and gives your morning a kick in the seat of the proverbial pants. What more could you want from a dollar scrunchy and 10 minutes of your time!?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Brown recluse...

Now there's a spider. They are common here in the Midwest and I know several folks who have been bitten, including myself. My niece (once removed) had a run-in with one and is having to go through the scary experience of dealing with a bite. The bites can be difficult to diagnose as the itching, then pain do not occur until long after the spider has gone on to greener pastures. They can be identified by the violin-like marking on the back, long skinny legs and if you care to look him in the eye(s), he will have six eyes not eight like any normal arachnid! I say "he" because unlike most spiders who keep to their web to catch their prey, the male brown recluse will go on the hunt; the female leaves the web occasionally, but likes to stay close to home. The recluse web is not a pretty cylindrical weaving; they prefer to make irregular patterns. They like to keep their victims guessing.

If you don't catch and treat it quickly, it may begin to form a necrotizing ulcer. The bite becomes hard in the center and turns an angry red-purple; the wound is inflamed, hot and is extremely painful. Imagine a pit bull clamped on and not turning loose. Most folks will get antibiotics at this stage; I did myself, but then at the time I didn't know what herbs would be helpful. The antibiotics nearly did me in as I went into anaphylactic shock; good thing I was only a block from the ER.
Once you realize you've been bitten look for plantain; also called ribwort or pigs ear. It's a very common "weed" and grows in yards everywhere. (Must be free from herbicides and pesticides). If you cannot recognize it may I invite you to a Green Blessings "weed walk". Or, second best, look it up on the web or in a good herbal. Plantain has tremendous drawing power and has been used for generations to draw out infection. Obviously, the quicker plantain is applied, the better. Chew the leaves then apply to the wound. Yes, I said chew. Your own saliva gives it a little boost. If this doesn't appeal to you, then crush the leaves to release the healing "juice", then apply to wound. Using whole leaves as bandages (hence the nickname "band aid plant") instead of gauze will prevent the bandage from adhering to the wound like a gauze pad does. Ever had to remove a bandage stuck to the wound?! OW! Plus, when a bandage opens up and pulls off skin, it traumatizes the wound and slows the healing process. Wrap and cover the wound with plantain leaves and secure with gauze. Burdock leaves are also WONDERFUL for this because they are so large. The plantain dressing will need to be changed every 2-3 hours.

Can't get wild plantain or burdock? No worries, both will grow nicely in a garden. I planted them from seeds and harvested a marvelous crop.

Skinny leaf plantain


Burdock

If you cannot get fresh plantain, use a good plantain salve. Be sure to get one from an herbalist; it should contain no petroleum products, preservatives, colorings or any other chemical. There are several other drawing agents in the herbal world, but plantain is my first choice, burdock and yarrow being two other good choices.

Now, that takes care of external; let's go inside. I am partial to prairie plants; after all I live among them! The Native Americans called this plant the "Prairie Doctor" and later, folks like my grandparents situated in the heart of America referred to it as the "Farmer Remedy"; gardeners and landscapers call it the Coneflower, but it's well known by its true name: Echinacea. In fact it's so well known that we tend to overlook it as a powerful remedy. Yes, there are naysayers out there who cite scientific studies that negate the efficacy of Echinacea, but for the sake of space, let's save that debate for another time. Plain and simple, it works. I've seen it work its plant magic many times. And, yes, we have "studies" to prove our side as well.

It has been used historically as a remedy for spider bites very successfully. There are thousands of Echinacea preparations out there (this is one of the problems); some are effective, some are not. Look for Echinacea augustifola root tincture. Echinacea has several properties, but its primary use for spider bites is its diffusive action. Diffusive herbs impart a distinctive tingling sensation on the tongue, which indicates its powerful action on the nervous system. Echinacea acts on the blood and lymph which makes it perfect for venomous bites which have caused a septic situation.

Place a couple drops of tincture directly on the wound and take 2 or 3 DROPS under the tongue every three to four hours. (Yes, apply the Echinacea and the plantain to the wound.)

Everyone recognizes this beauty - here's one from my garden.


The herbal world is wonderfully complex and diverse so this is not the ONLY way to treat spider bites, but in my opinion, it's one of the best.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rooting out the good stuff...


What a made-to-order day we had yesterday. Gorgeous weather and stuning autumn leaves, it was sheer joy to work in the yard. I harvested my elecampane and it was so beautiful; I can't wait to make tinctures and teas.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Need It and It Will Come...

I have this idea that when you need or have a driving desire to have a particular plant, it will show up in your life. A well-known and well-respected herbalist I know told a story of wanting to put a particular plant in a certain place on her property. Every time she passed the spot she thought and/or said that some day she wanted to put that plant there. Over time she began to pile twigs and discarded vegetation as she passed by. One day she decided to clean up the spot; she removed the little brush pile and there was the plant she had always wanted to plant there.

This is not an isolated incident in the herbal world and was just one more anecdote to reinforce my belief. I have several such stories of herbs growing naturally in my own yard, but my focus today is on burdock. I wrote about it in this column several weeks ago and displayed a photo of the giant leaves in my garden. When I harvested the roots a couple days ago, I made the mistake of not handling the burrs prior to digging. I worked away cheerfully gathering my roots not paying any attention to what was going on over my head. Sophie began to run around like a loon because she had some burrs sticking to her; my big brave farm dog can't stand anything in her fur! I took a break to help her and while brushing a strand of hair out of my face I felt burrs on my own head. A crown of burrs. What do you call a bunch of burrs? A gaggle? A flock? I had not felt them latch onto me and although I was a little concerned, I had to finish my harvest before I tackled them. When I got into the house and looked in the mirror I was horrified. They were everywhere. It was like a burdock burr hat. As I combed and brushed and pulled and yanked and laughed and cried I thought I may actually have to cut my hair off to get out the burrs. Imagine a spool of thread off the spool wadded up and swirled with oversize velcro into a ball of tangle. It took me well over an hour but eventally the burrs were gone; I felt like I'd wrestled a bear.

One the next trip over to Rocky Creek Farm, it hit me. My barn lot is filled with burdock. Hundreds of burdock plants. Dead stalks topped with the infamous burrs (poor mans buttons) and fresh green HUGE leaves sprouting and the base. My point of this story is: I must need burdock! And, there is going to be a great need for burdock medicine! No worry, I have plenty.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Wintering over...


Ahh...at last the herbs (including Johnny the overgrown ficus) are settled in their winter place. Since we are moving, we had to completely change the winter quarters for the plants so they would be ready "to go" at a moments notice! They are glowing with their wonderful greenness in the garage...just waiting for the word to go to the farm! All except the row of herbs along the kitchen window in front of the sink; they have to be there so we can snip them for winter eating.


Herbs do well indoors providing you don't forget about them. They thrive on snipping and must have light and water...a few words of encouragement don't hurt either! I use the kitchen sprayer to water and have a bottle mister that I use daily. Check the soil with your knuckle; if it's dry knuckle deep then water. Turn the herb pot occasionally to evenly distribute the sunlight. If you don't have enough sun, add a grow light. Full spectrum bulbs can be used in just about any kind of lamp. Use left over tea to water; we always use our mate' tea and leaves on our indoor plants.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Rocky Creek Farm

You can see I haven't posted in a while. Summer takes its toll on my thyme (snicker-roll your eyes). Actually my thyme flourished this summer; the best crop I have ever had. I have already moved the herbs and flowers indoors for the year (except for Johnny, my huge ficus tree)...we are having unusually cold temps...the freeze will be here this week-end...three weeks early. I need help bringing Johnny in, so need to recruit someone....hmmm...





My BIG news is that we bought a farm. Oh how I love saying that. We have been lusting after a farm for years and this one is perfect for us...it has everything we had on our "want" list. So, Green Blessings Herbs will now be under the auspices of Rocky Creek Farm. I haven't quite figured out how the websites and blogs will be presented as my chief cook and webmaster hasn't completed his analysis of the situation. The Farm will have all of our endeavors under one forty acre"roof": herbs (growing, harvesting, culinary, medicine), mohair (spinning, dyeing, ), classes of all sorts, tours and retail (sale of produce, products and information), festivals, we'll even have a kiln. As you can see Rocky Creek Farm will be a happening place, so stay tuned.



My carrots did exceptionally well this year; my Mini-Auzzie, Sophie, helped me harvest them and discovered she loves them for treats as well! Here is a versatile receipe that incorprates herbs into your diet.



Herbed Glazed Carrots

2 cups sliced and diced carrots

1 cup of chicken stock (homade is better!) or

1 cup of herbal infusion

1 Tbls of honey (local is better!)

1 Tbls of butter (real butter, please)

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Cover and simmer for about 20-25 minutes until carrots are tender. The carrots will be "glazed"...the syrup should be thick. Watch out and don't burn!

Remove from heat, toss with about a tablespoon of your favorite herb, or try something new! I love tarragon. I grow Texas tarragon...yummm.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Summertime at Green Blessings Farm.


Borlito Beans - visit website GBHfarm.com for recipe. This is a beautiful and delicious little bean.











This hydranga is two years old; isn't she beautiful?





And, we have a lot of poison ivy this year, worst year ever.






Friday, June 12, 2009

Garden

Rain and lots of it. GBH Farm is growing, GROWING, GROWING. Gotta get in the garden!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Herb Garden

Well, my poison ivy has at last run its course. Still red. Still itchy. But, not spreading and not blistering. There have been SO many folks at market with pi or know someone who has it. One customer said her doctor has encountered more pi cases this spring than in his entire career. My neighbors both have pi yet they have none in their yard. The conservation commission says the urushiol oil is getter much stronger and by observation, I see it is getting much more proliferate. A fellow farmer at market said her husband took their backhoe and scooped up an entire load of pi where none had been last year. So, BEWARE!

Take a look at some of the herbs growing here at GBH Farm.
Valerian
Valeriana officinalis
--isn't she beautiful? This plant is two years old and stands as tall as I do boasting her queenly status to the entire garden. I tincture the root (www.GBHfarm.com )for its famous nervine and antispasmodic qualities. Valerian is the first herb ever recommended to me by my first herbalist many years ago. I can still feel the remarkable effect it had on my female system.


Burdock
Artium lappa
Beautiful, luscious GIANT leaves. This photograph was taken last week and already the leaves are considerably larger. I will make tincture from first year roots this fall that I use to draw out fliuds--any fluids--such as sweat, urine, even menstrual flow. Burdock is great in salves for drawing out inflammation and infection. The roots are good in the spring for soup, but I don't dig any as I want to save them for medicine. Burdock root is a nourishing tonic and supplies optimum nutrition to our immune and glandular systems...it's good for so many things is it any wonder I cultivate this "wild weed" in my herb garden.



Lemon Balm
Melissa officinalis
One of my staple herbs, lemon balm smells heavenly! I use copious amounts of Melissa in my tinctures, teas and cosmetic preparations. I formulated Sunshine Ti (available at www.GBHfarm.com) especially for my grandchildren as an alternative to that red stuff! In addition to being a nervine and antispasmodic Lemon Balm is a carminative--good for digestion. Makes a marvelous "lemonade" for the summer!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Poison Ivy

Why does experience have to be the best teacher? I am severely allergic to poison ivy. Just typing the words makes me itch. Well, maybe it's because I currently have poison ivy that I itch. And burn. And hurt. I look like someone held me by my toes and dipped me in hot bubbling oil. I had to cancel my appointments for this week because I can't stand clothing to touch me. And, because half my mouth is caked and cracked. You get the picture. So, I look at the glass as half full...once again I have the perfect candidate for experimenting with herbal poison ivy remedies! In my many bouts with this innocent looking ivy, I have tried the drying lotion route, the healing salve route and now I'm on to the spraying route. I have a bottle of potion I'm spraying periodically all over my upper torso and face...I'll let you know how it works out.

Now, as my daughter so aptly pointed out, how is it that an herbalist always gets poison ivy? I am very adept at recognizing it in its various disguises..it can be a vine, a bush, a shrub; it can be green or red, with or without green or white berries; leaves can be shiny or matte, notched or not; vines can be hairy or smooth depending on the size. One form I failed to recognize--the invisible urushiol oil on my dog Sophie's coat. I'm pretty sure that's how I got this latest batch.
So, now she gets rubbed down with Kitty Klean, a product I developed for my cats, each time she comes in from outside. (It's good for dogs, too!) The urushiol oil can get on gardening tools and clothing --pretty much anything that comes in contact with it. It's particularly clandestine in winter with no tell tale three-leaved growth to warn you. Poison ivy has become more virulent than in years past; the oil is stronger and nastier.

One of the best treatments is the homeopathic "rhus toxicodendron" by Boiron. Its side effect, and what they market it for is joint pain improved by motion. Isn't that great?! One of the most informative web sites is www.poison-ivy.org. They have a skin rash hall of fame, and yes, I'm in there.

My herb teacher taught me to WEAR CLOTHES from toes to nose when gardening or "weed walking". When you're working with plants is not the time for sun-bathing. We love our herbs, but respectfully recognize the incompatibilities of raw nature with our human skin.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What's bugging you?

We may still be having cool nights, but the bugs apparently love it. Now, there are "good" bugs, in your soil, in your gut. But, I'm talking today about the ones we don't love. Mosquitoes, ticks. Our little Sophie has already encountered the later. We need to protect ourselves from these pests, but using the wide-spread popular insect repellants makes the fix worse than the bite. I have been experimenting with repellants for two years. I've changed the formula several times, but am determined to find something that works and works well. My husband is a mosquitoe magnet, so needless to say, he is my guinea pig (and a darn cute one as well).



My latest formula of Bugg Off contains neem, a tropic/sub-tropic evergreen tree. It grows to 60-65 feet and is known for its ability to survive drought. Not only is it a non-poisonous bug deterant, it is good for your skin.

To order: http://www.gbhfarm.com/

Friday, April 24, 2009

Green news...

Mark Blumenthal is the founder and Executive Director of the American Botanical Council. (Visit site for great herbal info http://www.herbalgram.org/). The public is slavered in highly profiled RTCs (random controlled trials) with negative outcomes with little regard for truth. This unprofessional practice warps perception of herbs as medicine thus diminishing herbs value in the public eye. Mark rebutted this practice with an editorial citing the many clinical trials that SUPPORT the efficacy of herbs.

The RCTs included popular herbs such as garlic (Allium sativum) for lowering blood pressure, Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) for erectile dysfunction, hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) for aspects of congestive heart failure, St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) for mild to moderate depression and echinacea (Echinacea spp.) for upper respiratory tract infections related to flu and common colds. Mark mentions several clinical studies in which the herbs worked significantly better than the placebo. To read Mark's entire editorial go to Alternative Therapies website: : http://abc.herbalgram.org/site/R?i=eoUB8XiMfnENqd2E8DqbqA.


Planting a garden? Go here for good info: www.motherearthnews.com/Best-Regional-Crops.aspx


The photo is part of GBH Farm. This section of our gardens is in two tiers separated with dry stacked rock. Round stepping stones down each tiers center; plantings on either side of the stones. This year I started rock moss beween the stones and am going to mulch on the sides where the ground cloth is. I used ground cloth over the entire garden last year and didn't like it. Rain did not get through to my satisfaction, plus it was difficult to harvest root crops. So this year it runs just down each center. Still need to lay the soaker hoses.
Feel free to email me with any questions.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Breath of fresh air...


I'm not the only one who loves spring...my house plants are sporting winter leaves and sun-starved branches. This photo is "Johnny" my ficus tree. He's almost as tall as my ceiling and has already perked up at at being outside.
Remember Arbor Day the 25th...Johnny's glad he's outside in time to celebrate. Go to www.arborday.org to learn more about appreciating our trees.

I've added a new book to the Amazon link...The Spice Lovers Guide to Herbs and Spices. Those of you who have tasted Chef Gary's cooking can attest to his prowess at getting the flavor just right. This handy edition will hel you navigate the maze of culinary spices and herbs.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Violets


I am in high spirits...so many new herbal perrenials made it through the winter, the fruit trees are blooming, my little green house is still standing after a windy spring rain storm and the rain "barrell" filled up after only a half-inch of rain! Fortunately Gary put in overfill drains. It isn't really a barrell; Gary engineered his own design...that's so Gary!


Farmers Market starts Saturday...hoo ha. I am so anxious to get started again; I love paling around with the farmers and market customers are the best. If you have a market in your area, don't miss out on the wonderfully fresh produce and herbs. We also have honey, eggs and meat at ours here.


Take a look at my violets...the entire bed is blooming.. isn't it beautiful?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Oh, my aching back!!! Spring is definitely here. I'm still cleaning out herb beds...we have two LARGE oak trees (Minerva and Quercus) that provide wonderful winter mulch for all the herb, vegetable and flower beds. Now it's time to put those leaves in the compost. Sophie has had the best time playing in them...the leaves not the compost...although she is extremely interested in the compost bin.

The dandelions are blooming!!! Yes, I'm still on my campaign to change everyone's thoughts about this little golden weed. Folks on my block are spraying to get rid of them, I am digging them up for transplanting as I go. Think of them as little golden suns shining all over your yard. Take a look at the Dandelion article on my website (www.GBHfarm.com) for a look at the REAL personality of the dandelion and how it can benefit you. I also just added an Amazon.com widget...check out Susun Weed's book Healing Wise. There is a wonderful chapter on the positive assets of the dandelion. I've recommended several herb books that need to be in your library! Hover the cursor over the book for a full description.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Gardening...

Two days in the gardens...sheer heaven. And, my teeny tiny green house is FULL. Sophie, my new puppy has worn herself out "gardening" and exploring GBHfarm...all 3/4 acre! I am cramming even more herbs and vegs in the gardens this year. I told Gary my goal is to have zero grass to mow...all beds and gardens instead! I have a long way to go....

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Yard work

It's a little trying to schedule yard work when it's 70 one day and sleeting the next,,,,but, that's the midwest. Only half the garden is cleaned up, I got a few dandelions dug, most of the perennials are in, the new tiny greenhouse is up, the patio gazebo that was destroyed is down...for good. The next time it goes up Gary is building it himself. We are DONE with pre-fab stuff. Farmers Markets contracts are due...a sure sign of spring!

Not much time to write...have to make hay while the sun shines.... :) e

Monday, March 30, 2009

Did I actually say on Tuesday that I "didn't care" about the weather??? No wonder it rained and sleeted and snowed on Saturday. It warmed up Sunday and now the gardens and yard is so darn wet...thank goodness we're on a hill here at GBH Farm so it will drain quickly...I have dandelion root to dig.


There is a little female cardinal camped out in a bush at my front window. Saturday, yes during the storm, we heard this tiny little thump-thump and thump again. Yes, she's throwing herself against the window pane. For three days now. She's like a mail carrier, nothing stops her. We've shooed, tapped, shouted and meowed (Professor April McGonnagal is involved) and still she throws herself at the glass. We've put the blind up and down, turned the lights on and off; even her bright red handsome husband has flitted and chirped and still she continues her ritual of self-destruction. I hate to call her a bird-brain, but come on now sweetie, STOP IT.
Now, back to the dandelions. You would be hard pressed to find a better SPRING tonic. Dandelion is good for your complete digestive system, kidneys, urinary, immune, lymph..oh my I could go on and on. I am still on a campaign to convince folks to STOP hating the dandelion and susbsequently, stop poinsoning themselves and save money. What a combo. USE the dandys in your yard instead of buying chemicals to pour, sprinkle and spray. Check out the dandelion article on my website for starters: www.GBHfarm.com. If you have more questions, shoot me an email or find me on facebook: Elizabeth Wenig. Have a monumental day :) e

Friday, March 27, 2009

It's sleeting. You have got to be kidding me. Trees are budding out, bulbs are blooming and our water garden fish are awake and hungry. So help me if it freezes I am going to do unspeakable violence to P. Phill, that fortune-telling, narcissistic groundhog. My daughter told me that in like a lamb, out like a...you know...trumps the groundhog thing. I don't think I have enough hutzpa to take on a lion, so I'm sticking with the groundhog.

My husband bought me the most wonderful garden tool. It is a like a super skinny shovel. I have problems with my wrists and can't work hand tools with any level of proficiency, but this thing works like a charm. I have been digging up dandelion root to make oils and tinctures (good stuff) and I am amazed at how easy it is. Thanks, Gary, you're always thinking of me.

The worms are doing GREAT. A few "escaped" and I worried they didn't like the cayenne I fed them, but I dug around and they all had smiles on their tiny little faces. The web (that ethereal know-it-all) says they don't like onions, but it never said anything about peppers.

Well, I have a bucket of roots to clean... have a monumental day...:) e

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring sprung?



The artificial sun is shinning, several of them in fact, so what do I care that the wind is cold and the rain is falling in spite of the calendar's assurance that spring is here? Thanks to my handy-dandy husband's carpentry/engineering skills my herbal seedlings are growing in the basement blissfully unaware of the weather outside. This is a shot before I separated and transplanted them. I can't bear to "weed" them out, so I save all of them. Makes for an extraordinary crop!




I mustn't complain as we have had monumental gardening weather for several days that has enabled me to start cleaning Green Blessings Farm beds and even plant a few things. I am overjoyed at the new plantings who made it through the winter: valerian, elecampagne and some "wild ones" burdock, mullein, plantain. Last year we put down ground cloth to help control weeds. When we purchased the property it was OVERGROWN with weeds and it has taken several summers to get a handle on them without using herbicides. But, the ground cloth did not let enough water through, so I ripped up the cloth around the plants and just left it in the pathway. I found a golden treasure under part of the cloth...carrots!

Farmers Market Managers did not see their shadows and are getting the contracts in order, a sure sign of spring. Let the summer season begin!!

My husband and I are trying to eat more vegetables, but not for obvious reasons. My little worm farm is expanding; literally eating us out of house and home. OK, not really, but, wow, can they eat. They are busy creating castings as fast as they can chew. I love "making soil"! My herb and flower beds are crawling with earth worms; at last the conditions are right and the dirt is supporting life!!




I participated in a Health Fair last week with the help of my daugher. I think she was a little bored and I so appreciate her willingness to help me out. Isn't it great to have support? Here's a photo of our booth. My new skin care and candle line did very well...must have been that NO CHEMICAL INGREDIENTS thing! Check out all our new products on at GBHfarm.com




Sunday, March 8, 2009

It's time...

Ahhhh, March has to be the flagship month for GREEN Blessings, to say nothing of my Scotch-IRISH lineage. I had the urge to plant seeds a couple days ago on the fifth so I dug out my garden journal and, lo and behold, LAST year on March 7th I planted seeds!! I guess once the calender flips out of February, my dormant compulsions wake from their long winters nap, rub their little fists on sleepy eyes and walk doggedly toward seeds, earth and trowel. I started by exploring a small round leaf-covered bulge (that looks suspiciously like an ancient elf burial mound) under my beautiful crooked apple tree.

Last fall after winter came knocking with frost I had several flats of tiny peat pots "left over" from summer planting adventures. I kept putting them on my potting table (a wonderful octagon picnic table under aforementioned apple tree) to dry out and every single time it rained. After several days of this, even I was discouraged and unceremoniously dumped the lot into a wet sour mess under the apple tree. Let nature do what she may with them, I was DONE.

So, three days ago when the spring seed bug bit me, on a fluke I decided to check out my peat-pot mound. I scrapped away the leaves as carefully as any CSI agent and discovered tiny peat-pots strewn and piled in heaps as if someone had carelessly, thoughtlessly tossed them out--as indeed they had. I picked up one and sniffed...no sour smell here. Sweet as a newly plowed field. I picked another one...sweet....another. Then I saw them. Squatters come to claim this fertile patch. Homesteading as if they intended to stay for generations. Worms. Not just any worms, EARTH WORMS. Joy effervesced up through me to the point that had my neighbors been listening, it would have confirmed what they have long thought...I'd lost it.

As gardeners know and the rest of the world would if they would just listen, earth worms can work magic in the soil. And, they had. Now, my little peat pots not only smelled good, they were replete with castings...the magical part...the part that helps things GROW. So, I garnered enough for two big flats--I'm anxious to see how much better seeds sprout than in "normal" peat. I'll keep you posted!! Gotta go....seeds calling. :) e

Monday, February 2, 2009

Library


February is, among other things, library month. So, I just returned from the library with my usual bag o’ books. Hope your library card is up-to-date and that you utilize it. The library has always been a part of our lives, a place to go, a place to grow. My adult daughter just learned that city fathers tore one of her childhood libraries down and she burst into tears. What further testament is needed to establish the impact of libraries on children? I must admit I miss the old card catalogs regardless of how fast (?) computers are. Spend some time in Scotland, explore the bottom of the Pacific, find a new author, discover other author’s writing methods, learn a new scrap booking method, and visit the newest fantasy kingdom; this is just what I do—indulge your own interests. Go ahead, make Carnegie proud.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ready...charge.


I love January. New beginnings and frost on my skylight. Yes, it's cold outside and there are days when my driveway is a little tough to negotiate, but I find January exhilarating. It's like standing at the top of a ski slope waiting to push off, not that I actually ski now, but I have in the past balanced at the top, waiting for the perfect moment to shove into that downward-no-turning-back now slide. Now that's commitment. Never mind that 5000 years ago the first skis were made from femur bones and that conjures a broken bone image for me, how about you! It merely points out that setting goals and going for them usually involves some risk.

January is almost over and I've successfully launched off the safe flat ground into the unknown. I'll probably have to schuss from side to side, maybe make a few jumps over unexpected obstacles, perhaps even make a detour or two, but, I'm on my way. Come on along. Make your goals, commit to becoming who you really want to be. There’s still a couple more days…
DOMUS book one DONE. Yes, I truly mean it this time, the final revision in complete at a 101,421 words! Hoo Ha. Now, on to Book Two...

Monday, January 12, 2009

It's here already

Once I put away the trick-or-treat bowl, I know the first of the year is right around the corner. And, we have turned that corner! The holidays always fly by don't they? You gotta love 'em. Besides spending time immersed in the sheer joy of family, food and fun, just before the new year I spend time evaluating my life. In my day planner I have a chart I made in 1987 that lists 10 areas of my life: physical, mental, emotional, attractiveness, relationships, living environment, social, spiritual, career, financial. I rate them on a one to ten basis. I can see the ups and downs through the years and make goals for next year. Some of you may see this as a bit compulsive, but somehow it's comforting to me to keep track of where I've been and where I want to go. Intrestingly enough, my chart runs through 2012, and I didn't even consult the Mayans!

So, what are your goals for 09? I hope they are to be healthy for that is the foundation of everything else you do. If you don't feel well, you won't fully participate in life. So, put down that cigarette (I have several friends trying to kick it), hop on the treadmill (several more trying to tone up) and pour a cup of yerba mate' (several others trying to acclimate to the taste!). If I can help you in any way, log onto http://www.gbhfarm.com/ and shoot me an email. Don't forget, if you have questions regarding herbs, fire away.

DOMUS is still being re-re-re-revised. I've decided that I will probably keep tinkering with it as long as it sits on my computer! I can't help it, I keep getting new ideas which I hope just make it better. I am so grateful to my editor/daughter, she keeps my brain wheels oiled and running in the right direction. And a BIG thank you to all my readers who have helped me along this year and kept me humble! Writing can be lonely and it is motivating to know others care about what happens in the far away lands in my head. My webmaster (gotta love him!) is working on my writer's page.
I know I am a step behind the world, but I acomplished a goal that has been on my list for a number of years: scrapbookking. I spent several days with my daughter, daughter-in-law and granddaughters "holed up" cutting, glueing, ooh & ahing scrapebook pages. We had great fun and plan to make it a regular happening. I started with a photo of my mother when she was 23; isn't she beautiful?
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