Friday, December 19, 2014

For Christmas A Book of Herbs and History, The Herbalist's Bible!

The Best Blend of Herbs and History in The Herbalist's Bible!
Well, I'm still reading this, but I wanted you to know how much I am enjoying this read.  You see I have been a history buff for a long time.  Enjoyed history in high school, thought I would enjoy history in college (not so much), but I did end up an art history major in college.   I have always loved the history of the United States and of the world, etc.  So history has always been in my blood.

This selection and commentary called The Herbalist's Bible by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal is of John Parkinson's massive herbal, Theatrum Botanicum or Theater of Plants of 3,800 species and 1,788 pages published in 1640.  If you click on the link above and scroll down to Viewability:  There are three links.  The second and third links are a page by page view of the text of the book.  I will definitely get several cups of herbal tea on a cold and snowy winter day and enjoy looking through it.  Julie and Matthew's adventures to obtain their own copy of this treasured herbal is recounted.  It was published between two well-established herbalists' herbals by Gerard and Culpeper.  Gerard and Culpeper much better known as English herbalists.  Parkinson grew herbs in his garden called Long Acre. 

What gave Parkinson validity was that King named him King's Herbalist.  Another writer looked at his work as a theft of de l'Obel, but Parkinson came through the critics with his reputation intact.  For his time, Parkinson used a wide range of methods to treat diseases and illnesses with herbs.  He was very interested in gynecology.  A lot of diseases were the same in the 1500 and 1600 as today.  There were exceptions though.  The plague was still a big problem as was leprosy and syphilis.   Infectious diseases were also a problem without the vaccinations and antibiotics of today.

This book is just a selection and commentary not a translation of the complete work.  The three criteria for what herbs that Julie and Matthew chose to comment on were as follows:

"Herbs well known to Parkinson that continue to be medicinally popular today, some times with different uses.

Herbs known and used medicinally in Parkinson's time but which have since dropped out of common practice--in other words--lost herbs that we think deserve a second look.  AND

Herbs new to Parkinson from either European herbal knowledge or as part of the explosion of plant samples or seeds then arriving in England from North or South America."

So I think it is safe to say that Julie and Matthew will continue their journey with this treasured classic and keep us enthralled by the results.  In this volume, I was just so happy that Julie and Matthew picked a lot of herbs that I was familiar with but also some I'm not.  Parkinson's words and Julie and Matthew's commentary in modern terms are side by side.  I loved reading from Parkinson that lemon balm calms bees.  There is a chili bread recipe from Parkinson that calms the heat of the chili.  Would like to try that and that chilies improve acid levels (maybe for people with low acid).  There were several herbs used for snake bites or mad dogs in Parkinson's time.  Betony was used for reflux and burdock was used for skin conditions then and now.

I do have a lot more to read.  I will add more thoughts as they come along.  It is wonderful to actually see an old herbal come to life in modern times.  This will be an ongoing project for them as for me as well.   Besides the history leading up to its publication, the selection of herbs, the notes are a book of their own and the appendix is full of inside facts about the times and the book, a timeline of Parkinson, his firsts in plants and what always gets me in trouble, a bibliography!  If you are thinking of a history selection for your herbal friends, think of The Herbalist's Bible.

Well, my car is encased in ice at the moment.  Christmas is less than a week away!  Where did the year go?  Hope you are ready for all of your festivities.  The one of the boxes for my latest giveaway was delivered early this morning in Michigan and my Texas delivery is in the vicinity.  So I will talk to you later.

Monday, December 15, 2014

And the Winners Are!

My Greek Cheese Making Basket Does the Trick!
Thanks to everyone who participated!  The Herbal Husband has picked the following winners one winner from the blog entries and one winner from Facebook entries and they are:


As soon as you can get me your addresses, we will pack up your boxes and get them to the post office.  It will probably be in the morning (Tuesday) because today is the craziest day of the year for the mail.  So you should still get them in plenty of time for Christmas entertaining.  The winners who entered on my blog post can e-mail me through my gmail account.  If you are my Facebook winner, you can message me or e-mail me through my gmail account, glenshawgalATgmailDOTcom.  Congratulations to you both!  Merry Christmas to all!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

More Christmas Book Suggestions for the Beginning Herbalists!

A Beginning Guide from Rosemary Gladstar
Two Volumes from Henriette Kress for the Practical Herbalist!
Well, never in a million years would I think that I would be posting about medicinal herbal books, but here I am.  As I am getting older, I am turning to more herbal remedies.  I will not be prescribing for you, but will talk about my experiences and what successes I have had.  So we are less than two weeks away from Christmas and if you are still trying to find that perfect gift herbally speaking, I think I have some help.

Natural Health Magazine calls "Rosemary Gladstar one of the most influential herbalists."  I have always heard her name and when I had the chance to buy one of her latest books, Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs, A Beginner's Guide, I did so.  The book is divided into four chapters, Chapter 1 Welcome to the Wonderful World of Medicinal Herbs, which talks about what a medicinal herb is, how it is used, the benefits of medicinal herbs and starting a medicinal herb garden.  Chapter 2 How to Make Your Own Herbal Remedies talks about making tea, syrups, oils, salves, etc. and dosages and duration.  Chapter 3 9 Familiar Herbs & Spices to Grow and Use talks about very common herbs and spices like cinnamon and rosemary and that's why I thought this is something I could do myself.  Chapter 4 24 Safe & Effective Herbs to Know, Grow and Use.  Again,  I don't think there were any on this list that I hadn't heard of, such as chickweed and burdock, but I really don't know the medicinal value and I think I will enjoy learning about them.  Well, now I have a little more time to read and learn for next year's season!

The second books I would recommend come from an herbalist in Finland named Henriette Kress called Practical Herbs and Practical Herbs 2.  I have always said as always as long as you know the botanical name of the plant you are learning about, you will be able to read anyone's book from anywhere in the world.  These books were recommended by my herbal sister, Debs Cook in England.  She has never steered me wrong at least herbally speaking!  Henriette has basics for making various basic preparations in her first book and then a description of various herbs and some pages called quick helps.  Her second book has more recipes, a chapter on energetics whether an herb is hot or cold, dry or moist, a chapter on problems and the last chapter with a different description list of herbs than in the first book.  Again, I liked the information I found about heartburn.  As I read both of these books in more detail I will comment further.  Both of these women grew up with strong herbal backgrounds with family members.  I trust their opinions.  I was just given the name of a fourth book for you to consider.  Just ordered it on  It is called Herbal Home Remedy Book by Joyce Wardwell.  It was recommended by one of our members of Herbaholic's Herbs on Facebook.  Always learning something interesting about herbs from them.  Ms. Wardwell is an American and Sarah who recommended it to me says she recommends it as a beginning book in all of her workshops.  Thanks Sarah!  I'll put a photo up on this post when I get my copy!

My Joyce Wardwell Book Arrived!
All three books are very well written, have good photos and I think would give a beginner herbalist a great start.  Less than two weeks until Christmas.  You still have a chance to enter my giveaway.  Two people are winning this year!  Here is a link A Holiday Giveaway with a Lemon and Artemisia Twist!  U.S. Readers Only!  We will draw the winning names on Monday afternoon.  So check for a new post after 1:00 PM EST.  Maybe the winner will be you!  Cold and gray in the 'Burgh!  Typical winter day.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be!  Talk to you later!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

An Herbal Stocking Stuffer from Backyard Patch Herbs!

This Butter 'N Cheese Mix is not only good for butter but for cream cheese!
I Love Salad Dressings!  So I Bought A Selection of the Salad Dressing Mixes!
The Butter is Delicious and So Easy to Make!
I Used The Salt/Free Ranch Dressing/Dip Mix with Greek Yogurt for a Light Dip!
I Got This As An Extra In My Order!
Well, it is about time that I write about my blogging friend, Marcy Lautanen-Raleigh, the owner of the Backyard Patch.  She also writes a blog, Backyard Patch Herbal Blog and if that's not enough, she writes wonderful culinary herbal articles for The Essential Herbal Magazine.

I'm being honest when I say that I don't get around to her blog as often as I would like, but sometimes I'm walking down the driveway reading what she has to say in The Essential Herbal Magazine before I can get into the house.  Every time I do stop by her blog, she has invented something delicious that I want to try!  Her head must be spinning with all of great herbal recipes she comes up with.  The herb butter and the ranch dip were excellent.  I may gain a few pounds while making your recipes, Marcy!  She also has tea blends, herbal vinegars, bath and spa herbs, green cleaning herbs, pet herbs, baskets and gift items.  She also has bread and scones mixes.  I really may be in trouble, Marcy!  It is that time of year to have tea bread or scones with tea!  I think another order may be placed shortly!

Not only do you get delightfully smelling packages, but two or three ways to use the mixes.  I bought the salad dressing combination and got a couple of pages of recipes along with the packages of herb mixes.  Besides what I purchased, she sent along a packet of her Cinn-full Dessert Blend to try.  Again, with a bunch of recipes!  I will be commenting as I make recipes so bear with me, but please do get over to her Backyard Patch Herbs page on Etsy and order some stocking stuffers for the herb gardener in your life!  I know you/they will enjoy them!

I have lost track of the weather, but I think we are supposed to get rain and snow tomorrow.  Not really sure.  It was a pleasant day here with the temperature hovering at 50 degrees in December.  It is just weird.  Don't forget about my giveaway.  Two boxes this year.  You do have to be in the U.S.  Just way too expensive to mail a box around the world.  Will try to keep posting about Christmas stuff.  Talk to you later.

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Holiday Giveaway with a Lemon and Artemisia Twist! U.S. Readers Only!

I Know You Can Always Use Jam and Jelly!
A Cleveland Sage Potpourri (with Sweet Annie) and Tarragon Vinegar!
A Herbal Notebook for Your Recipes, Designs or Thoughts!
Herbal Tea Bags for the Winter!
OK, here it is what some of you have been waiting for.  It doesn't look like the traditional basket I give.  This year it is all herbal items from my herb garden except for the notebook.  So here is the list you will receive should you win and BTW there will be TWO winners this year!

Each winner will receive 1 of each of the following:

Raspberry Jam
Lemon Basil Jelly
Lemon Verbena Jelly
Pineapple Sage Jelly
Rose Geranium Jelly

1 Jar of Cleveland Sage Potpourri (made with Sweet Annie, an artemisia)
1 Bottle of Tarragon Vinegar (and you can use the tarragon in the bottle like fresh)
1 Notebook
4 different tea blends (2 teabags of each)  Kittatinny Tea, Love of Lemon Tea, Une Tisane Francaise and Rosemary House's Tranquilla Tea.

I think this is a great gift box in time for the holiday season and to thank you for reading about my love of herbs.

This is only for my United States readers.  This giveaway will run from now until 1:00 PM Eastern Standard Time next Monday, December 15, 2014.  If you are on Facebook, you can like or comment on this post and be entered.  Only one entry per person.  Please if you aren't a blogger, give me some contact information.  If you don't, I will not accept your entry.  Good Luck!  Hope you win!

Friday, December 5, 2014

An Herbal Fix for Those Stinky Sneakers Just in Time for the Holidays!

Found An Herbal Recipe to Fix Those Stinky Sneakers!
Bought Some USA Made Crew Socks
Mixed Up the Recipe in An Old Casserole with a Wooden Spoon
Put the Sock in a Tall Glass to Fill It
Tied Those Socks with Festive Ribbons
and Put Them in a Festive Plastic Bag!
Always looking for good ideas for Christmas presents that I can make.  A few people who shall remain nameless may have stinky sneakers.  I'm here to help with that problem, herbally speaking.  I really like the book The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Maier.  I have done my take on her recipe.  Here is the original with my notations in parentheses.

Herbal Sneaker Tamer #1

2 cups of dried sage
1-1/2 cups of dried lemon balm (I used lemon verbena and some lemon scented geranium.)
2 cups of cedar chips
1/2 cup of baking soda
2 tablespoons grated orange rind (I didn't use this ingredient, but I think I would use lemon peel.)
10 drops rosemary essential oil
5 drops lemon essential oil

Combine the dried herbs, cedar chips, baking soda and orange rind in a glass or ceramic bowl.  Stir with a wooden spoon.  Add the essential oils and stir to blend.  Place half of the mixture in a clean sock and tie the open end shut. (I used a rubber band and then tied on a ribbon.)  Stuff other sock with the remaining mixture and tie off.  Place a stuffed sock in each sneaker overnight or when not in use.  NOTE:  These are 'dusty' because of the baking soda.  When you aren't using them in your sneakers, store them in a plastic bag.  You may have to replace the baking soda after a while.

Very easy.  Smells delicious.  Think it will work very well.  I may make them for myself and another person who shall remain nameless.  I did buy women's socks.  I think this will work equally as well for men's socks and sneakers as well. 

Getting a bunch of rain here.  Hope you had a great day.  Getting items ready for my annual holiday giveaway.  May post the items and start things over the weekend if I get the chance.  Talk to you later.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Almost At the End of Canning Tomato Sauce!

One of the Last Canners Full of Tomato Sauce!
Yes, I know I have GERD and I really shouldn't be eating tomato sauce! But I canned a lot of tomatoes back in the days when we grew a lot of tomatoes.  I still have to do something with those canned tomatoes.  Yes, they do survive years of being canned.  The Herbal Husband loves my sauce and so do I.  I just can't eat a lot of it any more.  So I spent last Saturday making tomato sauce and canning it.  I have one more recipe to make later on and then I will be done with quart canning.  I'm passing along my empties to my master gardening buddy who teaches canning and she will pass them on.  A rite of passage.  Let the young ones learn what our grandmothers and mothers did in the early days.  Although I learned to can on my own.

Need to put together your box for my Christmas giveaway.  Stay tuned!  It's that time of year!  Hope you are having a great day. Talk to you later.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

They Said What About My Favorite, Lemon Verbena? Part Three

The Verbena Oil in Concentration May Be the Issue in Photosensitivity!
Well, I had a light bulb moment the other day while reading about my favorite, lemon verbena.  BTW, we are going to take a break from this series of posts until after the first of the year.  I have too many other posts to do and not enough time!  Here are the last bits of information for now, including that light bulb moment.

Ruth D. Wrensch in The Essence of Herbs (1992) says that using a strong infusion fromm the [lemon verbena] leaves as an extract to substitute for the zest of a lemon."

Roger Phillips & Nicky Foy in Herbs (1992) says "This [lemon verbena tea] can be drunk three or four times a  day to relieve acidity, indigestion and flatulence or as a stimulant for lethargy or depression.  The smell of lemon verbena tea just makes me happy!

Barbara L. Collins and Floyd A. Giles in Landscaping Herbs (1998) says that outside lemon verbena is insect and disease resistant.   I would say disease resistant, but I have problems now with the stink bug.  So not totally insect resistant for me.

This was my light bulb moment from Arthur O. Tucker & Thomas DeBaggio, in The Encyclopedia of Herbs (2009) when they say (And I don't totally understand this, but I think this is where it led other authors to say that lemon verbena can bring issues with photo sensitivity of the skin.  "Oil of verbena was widely used in fragrance compositions, but the presence of up to more than 1 percent (Z) - and (E) - is ocitral (artifacts of steam distillation) produces photo sensitization of skin, so concretes and absolutes are preferred in perfumery."  If someone can explain this, I would appreciate it.

So it really wasn't an very old passage in a very old herbal, but more as the process of making perfume that they discovered the photo sensitivity of lemon verbena oil.  Fortunately, I don't have that sensitivity!

Hope you have enjoyed this series of posts.  I will do more in the coming year.  I need to do a few Christmas related posts before Christmas comes and goes!  It is cold and blustery here!  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later! 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Didn't Know A Fig in a Container Could Produce So Much!

111 and Counting!
Two of Our Figs Almost Produced 200 Figs!
The Brown Fig Getting a Bit More Sun
One of the First Brown Figs of the Year!
Neither of Our Figs in the Ground Produce Any Figs!
Really these are The Herbal Husband's babies.  We have a green fig, a brown turkey fig and he just bought an LSU purple fig from Well-Sweep Herb Farm that has not yet produced.  He first nipped a cutting (the green fig) from a famous garden in Washington, DC to start our first fig.  No, not the White House!  Figs in the mid-Atlantic or Northeast need a southern exposure or a south facing wall to grow against for best results.  We have tried everything sort of burying our plants and that's what they really recommend.  We had an elderly Italian gentleman who buried his fig tree every year and got plenty of figs.  Then he passed away and his widow tried to duplicate his efforts and it wasn't as successful.  We have tried many combinations of trying to get our trees through the winter and we have just given up.  The Herbal Husband turned to containers.

Well, I guess The Herbal Husband has finally come up with the correct combination of fertilizer, water and temperature to produce figs.  He has also read an article published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by Susan Silverman called You Also Can Grow Fig Trees in Containers.  Because she lives in our area, it works for us.  The Herbal Husband tends to baby his containers especially the figs.  If it is too sunny, they go into the shade and if it is too windy, they go into the garage for a timeout. The brown fig which I had at breakfast this morning was small but had such intense flavor.  It was very delicious!  Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We certainly did.  Cooking the turkey is a process and we only cook it once a year, so it is worth it!

Have a lot to say over the next couple of weeks.  Hope I get it all accomplished.  It is very cold here today, but sunny.  Warmer over the weekend.  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later.