Monday, August 24, 2009

Off to the Ocean!

Late each summer, my sister, my daughter, their 2 daughers and I all take a girl trip to the beach. I'm getting ready for this year's upcoming trip & have just decided which novel-to-get-lost-in I am taking. I love Louise Erdrich's writing - this will be the 5th of her books I've read.

The Painted Drum: A Novel (P.S.) The Painted Drum: A Novel by Louise Erdrich

Taking this book to the beach!

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Dragon's Breath

Late each summer, I make several batches of my Dragon's Breath. It's a tonic vinegar and a cold remedy all in one bottle. Many herbalists make some version of this tasty treat. This morning I started the first batch for this year. I start with locally grown organic vegetables and herbs. Here's a photo of most of what went into the jar. What a lovely arrangement! Looks delicious!

So I chopped lots of onions, garlic, jalepeno, cayenne and banana peppers, a couple of chunks of fresh ginger root, a dozen shitake mushrooms & put it all in this large 1-1/2 gallon jar. I added a cup of freshly ground horseradish root which I got at the farmer's market right across the cobblestones from my shop. Several tablespoons of turmeric root powder goes in the jar & finally, I filled it with raw apple cider vinegar & put the lid on. This photo is about an hour later. You can see that the horseradish and turmeric are settling to the bottom. I'll gently shake the jar every day for the next 6 or 8 weeks & then strain the liquid out & bottle it.

Once I've bottled this golden liquid, it can be used all year as a daily tonic vinegar, or in your salad dressings. It makes a wonderful cold remedy, which is how I tend to use it. I put a couple of teaspoons of the vinegar in a mug with a little bit of honey & fill with hot water. This magical concoction will fight off colds & open your sinuses if you do have one. I think it's a perfect thing to drink before bed if you're feeling stuffy. It opens up your breathing passages, making it much easier to sleep.

By the way, I love the horseradish stand - Mr Long turns a small oscillating fan on while he grinds the root, so that the odor wafts around the market!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Herb-infused Organic Honey

Wondering what we did in the garden this morning? It rained last night, so we had to wait a bit for things to dry out before we could do any harvesting. After weeding and pruning to clear an area for transplanting more Apothecary Roses in the back corner of the garden, we headed over to the Hyssop patch. It's covered in lovely purple flowers, and the bees are busy working there.

When we had several armfuls of Hyssop, we headed inside to the kitchen, where we stripped the leaves and flowers into wooden bowls, then chopped them with my antique ulu knife.

On Wednesday, I'd brought home a 60 pound bucket of organic honey, and my plan is to make a variety of herb-infused honeys over the next few weeks. The honey will extract some of the healing properties of each plant, so in addition to being delicious additions for teas, these honeys will be even more healthful. I expect we'll try Lemon balm, Anise hyssop (a totally different plant), Motherwort and a few others. Today, it was Hyssop.

We filled each of 24 jars about 1/3 full with fresh chopped leaves & flowers, then poured on the honey. We gently stirred each jar with chop sticks to distribute the plant material all through the honey & then topped off the jars. Aren't they beautiful?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Flower Essences from the Labyrinth

Most Monday mornings, you will find me in the garden with my helpers, Eli & Suzanne. Part of the work we did today way to begin three new flower essences. Here they are gently collecting Hyssop blossoms and floating them on the surface of pure water in a small crystal bowl. We don't touch the flowers with our hands, but carefully collect them one by one using a leaf from the same plant to gently grasp the blossoms. Here is the bowl of tiny Hyssop blossoms sitting in the sunlight. The sunlight helps the flowers to release their soul vibrations into the water. The other essences we prepared today are Vitex and Monkshood.
This photo is of Monkshood flowers. You probably won't see this plant often. It's so exquisitely beautiful, isn't it? And, it's extremely poisonous! If you've ever read any Brother Cadfeal mysteries, you've read about the deadly monkshood.

Reiki on Lammas

Essential Reiki Teaching Manual: An Instructional Guide for Reiki Healers Essential Reiki Teaching Manual: An Instructional Guide for Reiki Healers by Diane Stein

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was just attuned to Reiki level III this weekend, and this is the book we received as part of the class. I've had Diane Stein's Essential Reiki for many years & find it to be a wonderful book. So far, this book is meeting all of my expectations!

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Being attuned to the third level of Reiki means that I am now able to teach Reiki to others and to pass the attunements. For many years I thought I might not want to take this step, so I just waited to see if the feeling might change. Last autumn, I knew that I wanted the third attunement, and then I just had to wait for the opportunity to present itself. I felt strongly that I wouldn't "push", but would wait in a state of alert patience for the right time.

And so it came on Lughnasad, also called Lammas, which is the day at the precise mid-point between the Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox. Lughnasad honors the Celtic God, Lugh, and is the festival of the first grain harvests. Here in Pennsylvania, it is when the first of the sweet corn comes in. We eat corn, peaches, blueberries, cantelope and tomatoes ripe from the garden on a daily basis! You might have noticed that this early harvest season offers us tender fruits, juicy and full of sensual eating pleasure. This joyful ripening is what we celebrate now, mindful that these are not the harvests that will sustain us through the coming winter.

I am still integrating the experience of the Reiki attunement, and look forward to a deeper healing, for myself, in my herbal practice and for others.