Herbs in a Nosegay

This summer I have had more time in the garden. The flowers and herbs are flourishing. I picked a nosegay including these herbs with their flowers: calendula, echinacea, feverfew, lavender, mint, lemon balm and marjoram.

Some years ago, when I was working as maternity nurse and Lamaze instructor, I came across a book that fueled my interest in herbs. Susun Weed wrote, Herbal for the Childbearing Year. Her introduction alludes to the history of herbal knowledge collected by women and midwives.

Wise women have used herbs—gathered, eaten, tended, loved herbs—and taught their daughters the wisdom of herbs in the childbearing years.

I became familiar with the benefit of nettle as a nourishing herb and found nettle tea in the health found store. I now have a stinging nettle plant in my garden–grown from seed– and add the leaves to soup stock.

Stinging Nettle

The libraries have books about herbs. I discovered calendula flowers, also known as poor man’s saffron. When the flowers are dried the petals become yellow and orange threads. they can be added to rice or muffins. I make a calendula tea with the dried flowers. I am fascinated by the variations in color in this lovely flower.

Calendula flower
Orange calendula flower
Calendula lemon color

Sometimes I add mint leaves to fresh ground coffee to brew a mint flavored coffee. The leaves of lemon balm can be used for tea. 

When I worked as a home birth nurse, I carried lavender oil to use for a soothing massage. You can read about it here. The scent of lavender has a calming effect. 

lavender

Herbs are nourishing and flavorful. Some are medicinal. Rosemary and thyme are favorites in my kitchen. I am still learning ways to include more herbs in recipes. 

There are many stressful things in our world. It is good to pause in the garden, give thanks for the abundance of God’s creation and pick a little bouquet.

This post is linked with Tuesdays with a Twist and almost Wordless Wednesday at image-in-ing.

Herbs in the Garden: Nourishment and Remedies

Springtime brings warmer weather, more sunshine, blossoms on the trees and the beginning of a parade of flowers. One of my favorite activities is planting seeds and watching them germinate. Only God can package life in a tiny seed!

A couple years ago I planted nettle seeds—a herb that I was familiar with as a tea. To my delight, little nettle plants sprouted and the plants have come back each year. (I keep them in a pot in a secluded location. The leaves and stems have little hairs that sting when touched; I wear gloves harvesting.)

Stinging Nettle

Susun Weed writes in her book, Herbal for the Childbearing Year*:

The common stinging nettle is a uterine tonic and general nourisher with a special ability to strengthen the kidneys and adrenals. Its high mineral and chlorophyll content make it an excellent food and tonic for the hormonal system.

I have enjoyed nettle tea and have added nettle to soups. When the leaves are cooked the sting is gone. In an old Swedish cook book, I found a recipe for nettle soup.

I have planted seeds for calendula flowers outside and they have begun to sprout. Calendula is a favorite herb in my garden.

The book, Essential Herbs: Treat Yourself Naturally with Herbs and Homemade Remedies** has this note about calendula flowers:

Traditionally said to lift the spirits and encourage cheerful ness, calendula is one of the most popular and versatile medicinal herbs in current use. It is widely available in commercial calendula ointments and creams and is also used internally . . .  

Calendula flower

 I have made myself calendula tea. I have used the tea as a mouthwash for gum irritations and it has brought healing. I have also made calendula salve for skin irritations.

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday Writing Community . Also sharing with the Hearth and Soul link-up and Sue’s image-in-ing and Tuesday with a Twist and Inspire Me Monday .

*Susun Weed, Herbal for the Childbearing Year, Woodstock, New York: Ash Tree Publishing, 1986, p.2

**J. Behrens, S. Curtis, L. Green, P. Ody, D. Vilinac, Essential Herbs, New York : DK Publishing, 2020 p. 60

Herbs in My Bay Window

During the summer I have a bounty of fresh herbs. Sage, chives, oregano, mint, lavender and lemon balm are perennials in my yard. Sometimes thyme survives the winter and it comes back for a second or third season. Each summer I plant dill and basil.

I am fortunate to have a southern facing bay window. Some herbs continue to thrive in pots on the window ledge. The Italian basil has flowered and produced seeds.

Italian Basil

In another post I wrote about the different types of basil with links to recipes.

Lavender is also flowering indoors.

Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs.

In the featured picture at the top of this post, you can see that it has flowered in my window. When I make broth I add rosemary, thyme and parsley along with other ingredients. The broth is a healthy base for soups. In another post I provided directions for making broth–and for freezing or canning it. Find the post by clicking here .

This weekend I made a batch of broth. I canned some and used some to make a delicious pea soup.

Do you have a favorite herb? Or a favorite nutritious recipe for this winter?

I’m sharing this post with Sue’s Wordless Wednesday, The Hearth and Soul and Inspire Me Monday.

Giving Thanks in 2020

Thanksgiving was different this year. We exchanged dishes with my daughter’s family but enjoyed the meal in our separate homes. My granddaughter made a delicious bundt cake and dinner rolls. Another granddaughter made the cranberry sauce. I made my traditional cornbread stuffing. We all had a wonderful meal. In the evening we zoomed with our children and grandchildren in New Mexico, Kansas and Illinois.

I’m thankful for family and the ability to connect over zoom. We celebrated six birthdays this month—daughter, spouses and grandchildren. God has blessed us.

In the United States we have so much that we can access. I am grateful that all the ingredients for the cornbread dressing are easily available—butter, herbs, chestnuts and more. And turkeys are abundant in the grocery stores.

Cornbread dressing

The apples, berries and currants were made into pies. We are blessed to have these available.

A hymn written by Martin Rinkart (1586 – 1649) expresses thanksgiving joy.

Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices,

Who wondrous things has done, in whom His world rejoices;

Who from our mother’s arms, hath blessed us on our way

With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

What if we began and ended each day pausing to give thanks for something? I know it would lift my spirits in this unusual year.

Linking this post with Inspire Me Monday and the Five Minute Friday writing community. The writing prompt given by Kate is: GRATEFUL

Saving Seeds with Hope

The leaves are falling. Red gold and bronze. I have been raking the leaves, thankful for the outdoor activity.

My miniature rose bush has surprised me, continuing to bloom even though we have had some nights of frost. The bright red blooms bring joy.

The garden has been put to bed, but I am looking forward to next year. I have saved seeds from some squash plants and calendula flowers.

My neighbor gave me an Italian basil plant. It grew slowly and I decided to bring it inside, placing it in a southern facing window. I am hoping to gather some seeds from it for next year—and perhaps the plant will survive through the winter.

A couple  of English lavender plants did well (planted from seed). I left one outside for the winter and brought one inside. It has charmed me with flowers.

I am so thankful for the order, beauty and diversity of God’s creation. Despite human chaos, the seasons continue. We can trust God’s word. He is faithful and knows the future. We continue day by day with faith. 

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

Psalm 1: 1-3

On Friday Kate gives a prompt and we write for five minutes (and sometimes more). Today’s prompt is: AHEAD

Visit the Five Minute Friday writers to read more insights on this prompt.

Sharing this post with Tuesday’s with a Twist, Sue’s Image-in-ing, Crystal’s Heart Encouragement and Inspire Me Monday.

3 Kinds of Basil for Soups and Salads

One of the many blessings from a home garden is having fresh herbs readily available. This year I have three kinds of basil.

I planted sweet basil from seeds.

I purchased a bush basil plant at a farmer’s market.

My neighbor gave me a lettuce basil plant.

Basil is nice with any tomato dish. Diced cucumbers and tomatoes with basil is a quick and easy salad. Tear the fresh basil leaves into pieces and add to the cucumbers and tomatoes with salt to taste.

Basil is also nice in soups. I found a couple of good recipes online.

Creamy zucchini soup

Creamy pea and basil soup

Sharing this post with You’re the Star, Sue’s Wordless Wednesday and Tuesdays with a Twist

New Ideas for the Garden

With lots of time at home I have been able to focus attention on gardening. My neighbor and I have shared tips and little plants across the back fence. I am looking forward to garden produce.

This year I have added mushroom compost to the garden to help break up the heavy clay soil. In some places I have added earthworm castings as a fertilizer. 

In the past I have lost squash and pumpkin plants to vine borers—the caterpillars that eats the inside of the plant’s vine. So I did an internet search for ways to prevent this problem. One suggestion was to place aluminum foil around the base of the stem—I tried that before without success. Or wrap the stem with cheese cloth. My squash and pumpkin plants now have cheese cloth around their stems.

Update 8/12/2020: I have picked (and made into dinner veggie) two zucchini squash with more coming. I have butternut squash coming.

Another suggestion was to companion plant nasturtium, chives, calendula or tansy around the squash/pumpkin plants. I have tansy and calendula growing next to the pumpkin plants and nasturtium and chives next to the squash. I also planted the squash in a new area, because rotating location of plants is a good idea. We’ll see how this experiment works.

For the tomato plants I put a mix of banana peel, crushed egg shell and coffee grounds deep in a hole, covered with some soil, before placing the tomato plant in.

I am thrilled that some of my herbs wintered over. The sage and thyme were in sheltered areas outside. My rosemary plant did well in a sunny bay window during the winter and is now outside.

I am looking forward to the time our state opens up—our district of Illinois is still shut down. I am anxious to have time together with friends and family. In the meantime gardening gets me outside, into the sunshine. I look in wonder at endless variety of plants and flowers that God has created for our enjoyment.

Do you have gardening tips for growing healthy plants?

Sharing this post with Tuesdays with a Twist and the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: FORWARD

The Colors of Calendula

Calendula is a bright sunny flower and a herb. It has been called poor man’s saffron. The petals of the flower can be added to rice. The flowers can be dried for tea. I have enjoyed seeing the range of colors of that the flower displays from bright orange to yellow to mixed colors. Just a few of the many varieties are: Pacific Beauty, Pink Sunrise, Lemon Cream

Calendula
Lemon Yellow Calendula
Calendula

You can read more about growing and using calendula flowers in another post that I wrote. Click here.

The photo of the orange calendula was taken by my son a couple years ago. The other flowers are in bloom now.

Sharing this post with Sue’s photo link-up.

Personhood, Women’s Roles and Herbal Infusions

Most evenings I spend some time reading. Here are a few of the books I am enjoying.

A friend of mine loaned me the book, Love Thy Body, by Nancy Pearcey. Ms. Pearcey addresses many of the controversial issues in our culture. 

She begins by discussing personhood. Some view human beings as simply biological organisms until they display cognitive function which then allows them to be recognized as a person. The assumption is that body and soul are separate. The biblical perspective is that when human life begins it is body and soul united.

I am reading a chapter at a time and learning about some of the events in science history. Sometimes a couple sentences will cause me to pause. After referring to the theory proposed by Darwin (all life occurs in an evolving chain) she considers the impact that Darwin had on science. No special status is assigned to being human—because there is no human species. As a result, “life becomes a set of parts, commodities that can be shifted around” to suit some geneticists’ vision of progress. The floodgates have been flung open for unfettered refashioning of human nature itself. (p. 100)

Thoughts and questions came to mind. As we learn more about the human body are we attempting to redesign what God has created? When do the advances in medicine support health, and when does scientific experimentation cross moral and ethical boundaries? In our desire for control what are we overlooking? What are the longterm consequences?

Today I read a well researched article. I was startled to learn that the use of aborted fetal tissue for research began in the early 1900’s. The article notes research that took place after forced abortions that were allowed under the Eugenic Sterilization Act. Here is a portion of the article (to read more click on the quote):

In just one such research paper, Drs. Thicke, Duncan, Wood and Rhodes graphically describe their work: “Human embryos of two and one-half to five months gestation were obtained from the gynaecological department of the Toronto General Hospital. They were placed in a sterile container and promptly transported to the virus laboratory of the adjacent Hospital for Sick Children. No macerated specimens were used and in many of the embryos the heart was still beating at the time of receipt in the virus laboratory.” (15)

At the same time I am reading North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, a book from our local library. Elizabeth lived in the 19th century and wrote about women’s roles and their relationship to men in the social strata of the time. Her observation of human nature, description of the industrial age and society norms is fascinating. It is also a well-crafted story.

My daughter gave me Healing Herbal Infusions by Colleen Codekas. It is fun to browse through the pictures and recipes in this book. 

I love the springtime when I am adding herbs to my garden. Recipes throughout the book include a variety of herbs. The chapter titles are enticing: Infusions to Boost Your Immunity, Infusions to Relieve What Ails You, Infusions to Nourish Your Skin, Lips and Hair. I will try some of the recipes.

This post is joining the link-up at Literacy Musing Mondays.

Spring is Here : Looking Forward to Flowers and Herbs!

It is the first day of Spring and I am looking forward to the appearance of flowers and herbs. The snowdrops are up, and the robins have returned. The hyacinths are beginning to poke through the thawing soil.

Before long the violets will be blooming. I plan to gather these delicate flowers from an area of the yard that has not been sprayed with any chemicals to make candied violets. See a recipe here.

Every year I add another herb to my gardens. Herbs are a source of vitamins and minerals that support health. Rosemary, thyme and sage all grow easily. Here is a recipe for potatoes with rosemary and thyme.

I have planted some stinging nettle seeds in a container. I hope to plant them in a corner of the yard that has little traffic. The leaves of this plant sting—similar to stinging ants. The young leaves must be harvested carefully (gloves). When the leaves are boiled they lose their sting. The benefit of this herb is the rich mineral content. Nettle tea is sold in health food stores. I first noticed a recipe for nettle soup in a Swedish cook book. Here is an on-line recipe for nettle soup.

In a time period when many worry about infectious disease, it is a good idea to think about ways to improve the nutritional support of our immune system. Herbs are a source of vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. At one time I thought the purpose of herbs was flavor, but now I know they enrich our food.

Sharing this post with Friendship Friday