Posts Tagged ‘medicinal herbs’

LHG Retreat – the rest of Saturday

November 4, 2011

Saturday afternoon, we had a special guest teacher – Patricia Kyritsi Howell of Botanologos/Wild Healing Herbs.  She arrived a little early and was brave enough to immerse herself in our fun-filled group by eating lunch with all of us.

The focus for her class was medicinal herbs and concoctions for winter colds and flu.

After a marvelous, filling lunch, Patricia served us all a calming tea – very calming….

It’s a good thing she’s such a great teacher otherwise we would have all been fast asleep on the floor!

I don’t remember the herbs but I want to know what was in that tea.  I might just serve it to some of the school groups who come visit the farm!!

Photo -op!   Such beauty, such poise ….such hams!

(Dee is sniffing one of the  cough syrups that Patricia made up for us)

Lots of note taking in this class!  I love Stephanie in this pic.

I don’t know if it’s an “Oh no!” or  “Aha!”

After the fun time we had with Patricia – we needed a brain break…

See this peaceful little cabin near the woods?

Not any more!!

The ladies all went out to try their hand, or rather their feet, at walking on stilts.

A chicken fight challenge was thrown out to the crowd.

“HA HA!!,”  said Julie.  “I laugh in the face of danger!!”

Not sure what the outcome was but…

Julie was seen “stilting” her way into the woods.

Another cry for a challenge was tossed to the crowd by Cindy Bee.

“And who dares climb the insurmountable stairs of this cabin!!?”

“Like this!!”

Lynn grabbed hold of the challenge and ascended the stairs…

And soundly claimed her victory by also DESCENDING the stairs!

“Me, me next!!  I wanna try!”

“Ta Da!!!     …Quick take the picture before I fall off!!”

Okay – enough frivolity.  Back to serious business…

The logs had been cut earlier in the day – now they had to be split.

After careful instruction from Lynn, we really did place these dangerous tools in the hands of women!

They did a great job – of course 🙂

A little more instruction…

Which was, even if your axe gets stuck in the log – always look good!

Ah, the sweet feel of success!  I heard tell that these pieces of wood were going to be mounted on the wall, right next to the deer head!

The concentration….

The sheer determination…. (I mean, look at her face!)

The finesse and dexterity…

And of course the fun!  That’s what it takes to split wood with other women!

But beware – don’t mess with the teacher!!

Again, the woods surrounding were saved by the call to dinner.

We had a true Southern dinner and it was amazing!  Still a little full from lunch, I headed to the kitchen thinking I would take a “taste” of each dish.

Oh no – not hardly!  Incredible mashed potatoes, squash casserole, mac and cheese (not from a box!), butter beans, chicken and gravy (the chicken expertly picked from the carcass) and pumpkin pie for dessert!

And as with every evening meal – homemade wine from the Winey Goat (thanks Amanda!)

We talked and laughed some more, rehashed events from the day, wrote down more quotes, cleaned the kitchen and then headed down to the fire pit.

Thanks to the lumber jack crew, we had expertly stacked kindling and wood for the fire.

Anne-Marie had bread dough left over from class that morning and I suggested we get a flat rock and put it on the grate over the fire.

“Let’s put the dough on the rock and see what happens!”

It worked!!  So with a glass of wine or “apple pie”, we toasted the day and broke bread together 🙂

We stayed by the fire for a while, laughing till we cried at times.  Then slowly, the wonderful, intoxicating tiredness of a day well spent began to take over.

One by one or two by two, the ladies ascended the hill to warm, comfy beds.

A good time was had by all and the sisterhood connection of these homesteaders was knit by the learning, laughing and sharing of the day.

Herb Walk in Hot Springs, NC

July 20, 2010

In January, when I first heard about this hike, I signed up immediately.  I’ve been interested in herbs for a long time, had an herbalist do a walk around my farm which was so enlightenly, and then heard Patricia Howell speak at the Georgia Organics Conference this year in Athens.

Once I heard Patricia, I was even more excited about this herb walk because she was going to be the teacher.  I talked with a couple of friends and asked them if they wanted to join me for this weekend.

Four of us traveled to the mountains on July 9, north of Asheville, NC to Hot Springs, NC.  Beautiful scenery, great company, and the fun anticipation of some wonderful teaching, foraging in the woods, and the making of salves and tinctures.

Friday afternoon we arrived at the Sunnybank Inn – an old Victorian home converted to a hostel for those traveling the Appalachian Trail.  ( )  Fabulous architecture and incredible vegetarian fare.  The food really was amazing!

After a delicious breakfast Saturday morning, we all piled into the cars/vans and drove to Max Patch up in the Blue Ridge. ( )

Always looking for insects, this butterfly caught my eye as soon as I got out of the van.

When Patricia got out of her car, she had this fungus in hand and was extremely excited about her “treasure.”

This is called “Chicken of the Woods” and it’s edible.  The chef at the inn sauteed and served this with Sunday breakfast and…

it was very good!

We all collected our gear and headed out on the trail, following our fearless leader.

Patricia introduced us to Jewel Weed and told us about the medicinal value of this particular plant.

This is wild Bee Balm/Bergamot/Monarda.  I have lots of bee balm on the farm but none this color.  It’s part of the mint family and quite prolific.

Any guesses?  Usnea- a species of Lichen.  This is very sensitive to air pollution and at times used to determine air quality.  Our purpose for harvesting the Usnea is to make it into a tincture for respiratory problems.

After a couple of hours on the trail, we stopped in an open area for lunch.  Hummus sandwiches with sprouts and cashews, date rolls, and fresh fruit.

So many of the women in our group had been foraging before and we saw so many plants that I’m sure I would have passed by unknowingly.

This is one of them – Indian Pipe.

Such a cool plant – no chlorophyl.

We harvested Jewel Weed to use Sunday morning.

Rattlesnake Plantain – so beautiful!

I was being hailed by Patricia to come and pick St. John’s Wort from the field.  A storm was coming and I needed one bag full!

Why did I keep looking to the crest of this hill waiting for Julie Andrews to come sweeping over the summit singing “The hills are alive….”!!

The views were breath taking…

We were asked to harvest Elder flowers.  Quite the undertaking since these bushes grew in and amongst blackberry brambles!

These gals were certainly the heroes of the day, braving the thorns and who knows what else that might have been crawling underfoot 🙂

I’m telling you, the walk through the woods, the incredible plants, the amazing views –

so invigorating!

And this wretched plant – Dodder.  However, it may redeem itself if Lydia can truly dye wool from this plant.

I’ll let you know…

A good day’s shopping.  We harvested Jewel Weed, St. John’s Wort, Usnea, Yarrow, and Elder flowers.  This is my kind of shopping…and really, isn’t shopping in stores a type of foraging anyway??

We all had such a great day!  There were about 14 of us in the group and Patricia is a fabulous teacher – so knowledgeable.  (Check out her website for all kinds of information: )

And what did we do with all these plants?  You’ll find out in another blog 🙂

Rosemary Herbal Tea

February 22, 2010

I attended an Herbal class taught by Patricia Howell this weekend at the Georgia Organics Conference.  She was wonderful as a speaker and so knowledgeable.  I’m doing a hike in the Appalachians with her this summer – that will be another blog!

Ms. Howell’s lecture covered the top 10 sustainable herbs everyone should know and grow.  I was so excited to realize I had most of her list already growing in my yard.  One of them is Rosemary.  I love Rosemary and have a lot of it growing around.

Of course, I wasn’t sure how I should feel when it was said that Rosemary likes poor soil.  Mine is growing like a weed and it’s right next to my garden!  Hmmmm.

Ms. Howell covered all the medicinal uses for each of the herbs she highlighted.

Today, in particular, I was in dire need of Rosemary…

Aside from it’s great culinary uses, Rosemary is also used for stimulating digestion, an anti-depressant, preventing cancer and heart disease and as an anti-inflammatory.

But the one use I needed desperately today – Rosemary improves cognitive function and memory!!

So I made myself some herbal Rosemary tea…and if you’d like to join me for a “brain re-charge”, I’ll show you how it’s made.

I cut the Rosemary from the garden then stripped off the leaves into a quart Mason jar.

It’s important to macerate the leaves.  Sounds impressive, huh?  It just means to cut or bruise the leaves before putting them in the jar.

Pour boiling water over the herb…

cover with a lid to keep steam in the jar, and let steep for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, strain the liquid through a strainer to keep the herbs out.

And enjoy!!!  (you might want to add a little honey – it tastes a bit like a Christmas tree)

I’m drinking mine as I type and the brain synapses are firing on all cylinders now….well, at least I’m hoping it will happen soon!

Oh yeah- I see in my notes it says to drink daily.  Okay, so give me a week 🙂