I am recovering from what we think must have been the flu, but doing much better! I feel like I am back to my old self and will return to the world of making, using my hands and senses, I can’t wait!
But I did just spend several days with the sole purpose of expelling a flu, thinking about plants but mostly sleeping. But I’m ready to move on…
I strangely enjoy the challenge of being sick. I like to see how I can expel the sickness with old remedies (on top of lots of rest). This week, after a shift in the library and a meeting with the spinners guild (yes, I joined the spinner’s guild and have a wheel on loan!) I felt the slow creeping sickness in my chest. After Jamie’s company Christmas party on Saturday, I knew I was definitely sick…
And so, I made a huge pot of broth using the hardy plants in the garden: Kale, loads of parsley, thyme, sage, rosemary. etc. with rutabaga, beet root and the habanero peppers I picked and dried this summer. Luckily, I didn’t have to go into town for work until today so had 3 solid days to dedicate to my well being ❤
I wanted to share a wee bit with you about one of these wonderful sunlight consuming greens…
P L A N T A L L Y
S A G E
Sage (Salveo) meaning, ‘I am well.’
Such a beautiful herb! When I am feeling unwell, I add sage to everything! The medieval era loved sage and saw it as a plant of immortality. I’ve always been interested in the medieval plant world. What did their gardens look like? How did they use their plants? How did they interact with them? Sage is one herb that always stood out in this era as an optimum health tonic. In the 12th century poem, Regimen Sanitatis Salernitanum the author proclaims, “Why should a man die in whose garden sage grows? Against the power of death there is no medicine in our gardens; but sage calms the nerves, takes away hand tremors, and helps cure acute fever… O sage! The saviour! of nature the conciliator!”
Aside from the fun historical perspective that stretches back well before the 11th-15th century (Much herbal and plant knowledge was derived from rewritten texts from the ancient world), Sage is known to be an ANTI INFLAMMATORY agent – It also suppresses perspiration, aids memory and digestion! I have three plants growing right by our front door, for a woman is said to rule where sage grows 😉
** Sage is toxic in large quantities, so do take precaution! **
Anywho! I best get some rest so I can start tomorrow anew, refreshed and well after 3 solid days of dedicating myself to consuming herbal broths and teas curled by the fire (Also watched the new Planet Earth – it’s superb!). Currently reading The Sea Road by Margaret Elphinstone while I wait for The Good People by Hannah Kent to come into the library (So very excited!!).
Hope you’re well and escaping the flu season this year! Onward!
How are you all! I am currently sitting at my kitchen counter, taking a break from making pizzas to finally post my last experience with plants, gardening and herbalism of April 2017. It has been a beautiful past week, the sun is shining right into the window before me, bathing the plants and warming my soul. The wind has lost her bite and is back to being a good, powerful ally. One of my favourite friends.
This week has been extremely busy and I am happy to finally sit down and not have a million things going on in my head at once (Although, I might still be buzzing – still need to finish those taxes… sigh). We have been graced with the most refreshing rain (that Henry and I got caught in yesterday, drenched to the bone!), such pleasant warm temperatures and just a general blissful attitude in the midst of a little bit of chaos.
WHY have we been so busy? Well, I am knee deep in garden working – sowing already potatoes, onions, kale, spinach and wildflowers, collecting natural fertilizer from the sea, planting trees, working with the indoor seedlings as well as just other general things. Aside from that, which obviously is only limited to certain times of the day – our washing machine broke. Yes, it is a 12 year old machine that came with the house when we bought it. I felt rather stressed since we absolutely need a washing machine and the price to replace one is not cheap. Moreover, the room in which our washer and dryer are hooked up is reached to by going through our upstairs bathroom (probably once a hallway to the room). Well, the previous owners must have had the washer installed and afterwards, installed a corner shower in the bathroom because the shower blocks about 5 inches of the old door (I’m sorry if this is confusing! It’s an old house and some things just negate common sense since these houses were not built for showers and washing machines!). Our solution? We tore out the shower with the intention of redoing the whole bathroom (it needed to be done at some point, why not now?). So, our first renovation job for our house is coming a little bit earlier than anticipated! Thankfully, our new washing machine arrived yesterday, so I can finally, finally, finally wash our clothes at home (it has been broken 2 months – yes, we procrastinate and used a laundromat), including sheets and quilts and arg I am so excited! I really never thought I would see the day that a washing machine would excite me SO much (Have you watched Tales from the Green Valley? The old way of doing laundry was SO so so much work, I’m very grateful for these machines). Next step is to build a clothesline and then I will be feeling very grateful indeed.
Anyhow, that was a little overwhelming and maybe a little too much about washing machines. I wanted to share a couple of pictures from the week about some of the things we have been up to. The crocuses and siberian squill are blooming – the tulips rising. Dandelions are popping up all over the place and I have been digging up, scrubbing and cutting up the roots for roasted tea (the plants that have crept up in garden spaces). The robins have been flying to and fro and I even saw 3 Cedar Waxwings the other day! The tide has been so incredibly low on our evening walks to the river and we are only spotting gulls and ducks – no longer the Canadian Geese.
On the New Moon, I planted a bed of red and yellow onions, russet potatoes, kale and spinach. I also began to dig a new garden by our driveway because the earth is amazing. We think that some time in the past, someone must have had a fire in this spot. I have dug up small glass bottles with twisted tops, forged nails, and animal bones. The soil is nearly black which is such a contrast to our regular red soil! I look forward to planting flowers and am hopeful to perhaps start a rose plant for rosehips. I’ve collected all of the dandelion roots in this area to roast for tea but first they are drying on a screen! I am SO excited that collecting and working with plants again has begun 🙂 I do believe that we are about a week ahead of last year.
A R T & O T H E R T H I N G S
Not much art has taken place – or anything aside from domestic and gardening stuff but alas, I did a couple of things! Granted, they are small. But I thought you might enjoy them!
I also finished a hazel heather Pangur Bán sweater! I will make a post next week, when it has dried and we have some photos for the etsy shop.
I am still reading Outlander, but have also been reading through The Celtic Realms by Nora Chadwick and Myles Dillon because… Jamie and I are going to I R E L A N D in 2 weeks and I can barely believe this is happening. Many of the places we are staying do not have internet, so I will probably not be using it much at all but I will be sure to make some posts about it when we get back. This is a pretty important trip for us, especially since I was a Celtic Studies student and feel a great connection to my Irish Ancestry (which I’m always scoffed at for when I meet people from Ireland!! Sorry, we don’t have thousands of years of history in Canada that we feel rooted in). I am ecstatic… and have kept it in for several months since we knew we were definitely going. But, soon dear fae friends, you will be bombarded by two small Canadians’ adventure on the emerald isle!!
Sadly, I must go! I enjoy writing these posts so much as I feel as though I’m communicating and almost having tea with all of you! This evening we are having friends over for homemade food and a bonfire, sending off a friend who is going away for the next month and a half. I am also seeing it as an early Beltaine celebration. I have so many other things on my mind, that really makes me feel like blogging more despite the death of blogging (I know I am so late to this).
I’ll be back next week! taking another solid break from SM this week for my sanity and clarity of mind!
This March morning, the sun is shining and the birds are singing in the trees! I went out to feed the chickens in my pajamas and a touque, trusting that the bright sun would warm me despite the dusting of snow on the ground. It was glorious and I can’t wait to get out there today! But first, I wanted to share with you something I worked on this week, carving stamps.
Anyone can carve their own stamps, it’s fun and really rewarding! If you wanted, you could even make a template with a leaf or a dried flower, there are so many options! The only material you need is a linoleum cutter and whatever block you choose to carve (I am using the rubber from Speedball – available at most craft stores and extremely easy to work with). I started this week, knowing that I wanted to make a very simple dandelion stamp for my tinctures (in my previous post!). That small stamp, launched me into a morning obsession. I decided to make a series of three of my favourite flowers that bloomed here on this land last year: marigold, tulips and poppies.
I am forever and ever inspired by the medieval woodcuts of plants. I can’t explain why, I simply love the blocky, linear designs (Perhaps, I’ll do a whole post on woodcuts someday – or a series of them). I hope my work will help shed some light on why I love this style so much and perhaps inspire you to look into the botanists and printmakers of the past ;).
I also made a small set of cards, available on my Art Etsy Shop: Wood Folk Prints
Thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoy the pictures of my process and work.
Since I was a little girl, nothing seemed so appealing to me than living deep in the woods, immersed with the plants, the cycle of the moon, the animals. The dirt swept clean with my broom and the leaves entangled in my hair. I wanted to be a witch. In fact, most children I knew wanted to be witches or let’s face it – felt like we were witches. I remember at around 7, speaking to the sky for it to rain and feeling the most awesome power when a drop, then another and another fell on my skin.
In the very back of our property, there was a large vegetable and herb garden as well as a large brick fire pit conveniently located beside “the witches’ fort.” This was an enclosure of twisted apple trees that not only formed 4 “walls” and a door, but a roof! My Dad laid the ground within the trees with red brick. I can’t really express how perfect this spot was, we had wooden shelves and stump tables and seats. My Mom actually let us have an old broom out there as well as an ancestral cooking pot (I think she regretted it later), some wooden salad bowls and wooden spoons. I didn’t really know what else you could want in life!
I remember walking barefoot to the garden, picking herbs and placing them in the pot with some puddle water while munching away on chives. Now, as an adult, I am essentially doing the exact same thing – still barefoot in the summer but making tinctures and infusions!
M A K I N G T I N C T U R E S
During the waxing Snow Moon, I combined our homemade Apple Cider Vinegar with all of our dried dandelion leaves and roots to make a super tonic! According to Mountain Rose Herbs, using a vinegar to extract and preserve a plant is an “extract” rather than a tincture (which uses alcohol) – but tinctures just sound so much more fun ;).
I simply combined dried dandelion leaves and roots in a large mason jar and covered with Apple Cider Vinegar. I stored it in a cool, dry spot out of direct sunlight (a cupboard) and shook it every once in a while, to make sure the plant parts were completely covered with the liquid. It sat in the cupboard for around 5 weeks (I mark it on my calendar so I know for sure). The vinegar extracts and preserves the potent healing elements of the plant as well as adding some super beneficial bacteria and enzymes (I’m not a health professional so don’t quote me on anything! I simply like old folk methods).
I decided to name them SAP MOON since I bottled them on the Full Moon in March. My calendar calls this the WORM MOON but that really doesn’t make any sense for where we live in the North East. Sap makes so much more sense since this is the time we tap our maple trees to make the most delicious sweetener on the planet, Maple Syrup :D. I also love the idea of working by the cycles of the moon for making concoctions as well as gardening and tending to plants!
I also love the idea of naming now all my infusions or herbal remedies the name of whatever full moon it is – that way I know the rough date (you can always check back online to see if you need the exact date) to know the age of your remedies. I added a little “2017” on the label in the case that it somehow gets shoved to the back of my cupboard and makes an appearance in 10 years ;).
A P P L E C I D E R V I N E G A R
For years now, I have been reading about the amazing benefits of natural Apple Cider Vinegar. I decided to try to make our own and now after learning how simple it is, I don’t think I’ll ever buy it again (or I hope not to!). We have one very old, large apple tree that produce hundreds of large, yellow, sweet apples (not pictured above, the above has the most delicious, crisp apples). I have no idea what type they are but I made several batches using this type. They are a soft, sweet apple ideal for baking so our cider is light and sort of sweet tasting!
D a n d e l i o n L E A F & R O O T
Dandelions are such bountiful and healthful herbs! Last spring, I watched the chickens go wild over the leaves and congregate around the plants. I began to collect the leaves and even dig up some of the roots to dry indoors. We tried to eat them in salad but I found them too bitter to eat fresh. And so, last spring I was determined to make an overall tonic with them in the form of a tincture.
B E N E F I T S (Information below taken from: Lust, John ” The Herb Book”1974):
” Aperient, cholagogue, diuretic, stomachic, tonic. Dandelion has two particularly important uses: to promote the formation of bile and to remove excess water from the body in edemous conditions resulting from liver problems.” Lust, J. 171.
Aperient – mild laxative
cholagogue – agent used to increase the flow of bile into the intestines
diuretic – agent that increases the expulsion of urine
stomachic – agent that strengthens, tones and stimulates the stomach
tonic – agent that strengthens the organs of the entire organism
Carving a little stamp for the labels 🙂
The simple labels 🙂
And so, my first ever REAL LIFE magical concoctions (that isn’t tea or just food). My childhood self would definitely approve. I have a batch of 10 of these little gems and thinking in the future, perhaps after the next trip around the sun, I will put some of my remedies in an online shop or just sell at markets, etc. Simply add a few drops to your morning water or herbal tea and you are golden 😉 (as long as you don’t have an allergy to ragweed..)!
FARE THEE WELL & MERRY PART !
(On one other side note, I am trying very hard to have regular social media ‘detoxes’. I have simply decided to not go on instagram (my only social media really) during the weekdays. I could write a whole other post about this because I think it’s actually really important but maybe for another day! I just wanted to shout out if you have noticed me absent… which I doubt anyone has… it’s because I am just choosing to be offline and seek balance in my everyday life. This is something that has sorely been lacking since I have a compulsion to check social media throughout my day. Thank you <3)