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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Winter Blues? Seasonal Fruits and Herbs to the Rescue!

Many of us feel better and are more productive when there are dapples of sunlight in our day. In winter; however, we aren't always kindly warmed by the sun's rays...so what should we do to shake away winter blues and blahs?

...Imagine walking down a grove of orange trees....smelling the ripening fruit and the aroma of blossoms covered with honey bees....Ahhhh! Naturally, one would inhale deeply as the soul is fed by the wonderful sweet smells of citrus and blossoms. It wouldn't be long before the aromas therapeutically lifted our spirits. A bit of aromatherapy - mother earth style!

Today, I started linking the chilly blue & gray skies with seasonal produce and evergreen herbs. I started thinking about their connection to our moods and our needs during the winter months.
Citrus is in season...Meyer lemons are ripe for the picking, oranges, limes, grapefruits are in abundance at the grocery stores and the evergreen herbs I have growing in the garden include rosemary, oregano, yarrow, and rose. You may have even more growing in your garden, too! This got me thinking that this is no coincidence. It's earth mother's way of nurturing and supporting us when we need her most.

When you are feeling blah, tear into an orange or a grapefruit with your hands, allowing the oils to infuse the air.
Then, inhale deeply! Eat the fruit for its vitamin packed benefits and save the peels...they can dry naturally on your counter then you can grind them later and add them into vinegar to make a lovely face tonic, hair rinse, and household cleaner. I like to add them to sugar scrubs, too!

Next, head outdoors! Find some rosemary - pick off a bit and either crush it or rub it between your hands. Then, inhale deeply! Your spirit and mind will be invigorated and uplifted.
Gather a bit and cook with it, infuse in tea and sip on it while reading your favorite book...or hill country blog ;) You can use rosemary's leaves and twigs when making infusions. Rosemary is an anti-spasmodic, anti-depressive, and an antiseptic. It stimulates the spirit and eases tension - lovely!

Oregano is a wonderful immune supporter. I use a lot when I cook and make sure to add a lot of garlic, too. Keeping your body healthy and your spirits lifted will help you ward off winter blues and the common cold.

Yarrow also has antiseptic properties. It's also a diaphoretic, so it's an herbal remedy for helping us when we have fevers. A tea can be made by infusing the dried leaves into heated water and can be sipped throughout the day.

And Rose....right now, roses have beautiful rose hips that birds enjoy throughout the winter months. Rose hips are full of vitamin C - a wonderful addition to your immune support regime. Rose hip tea is a nice way to enjoy this winter fruit.

So… coincidence? What do you think?

When I went outside to take pictures for this blog, I also met some other medicinal plants that I wanted to share with you...
Wormwood (also known as desert sage is ceremonially used as a smudging agent, much like sage, to cleanse and purify sacred spaces)
strawberry growing with red clover,

& plantain


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hill Country Herbs in December

Today was a rainy day in the Hill Country...gray skies, no patches of sun, and cool constant light drizzly rain. A slumber day. But of course, by midday, a bit of cabin fever set in and I had to go outside and breathe in fresh earthly goodness.

I first ventured to check on my Cleavers "hot spot" and I was thrilled to see baby Cleavers coming up once again. Cleavers (Gallium aparine) are like precious friends that I wait all year-round to see...and in December they come and make their annual appearance. I'm very excited to see them. I look forward to seeing them take hold and using them in body cleansing infusions and making them into healing oils/salves/lotions.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is also another herb that loves cooler temperatures and thrives outdoors in the Hill Country. I have Yarrow growing in the herb garden and planted in pots on the back patio. Yarrow is a tasty little herb that has wonderful flavor. I like to nibble on it in the garden and add the beautiful feather like leaves to salads for a special treat. Yarrow has astringent properties and is also known as "soldier's woundwort" as it has long been used to stop external bleeding when applied to wounds. Anti-inflammatory in nature, it can be applied directly, made into a poultice and can be infused in oils and used in salves and creams.
Here's a picture of my Thyme in the greenhouse. I love this plant - we go back over five years I think. I sit with it, admire it, harvest it, and spoil it...especially this time of year when the tiny green leaves sparkle with life. I like to cook with as much Thyme as I can during the winter months. I attribute health and wellness to Thyme, as it is a wonderful plant full of antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties due to its high Thymol content. It is wonderful infused into oils for cooking or for topical use - how could you not have time for Thyme in your herb garden?
Remember this little hitch hiker? This is the Patchouli plant I carried on the plane with me from Oregon to Texas. I purchased it from Horizon Herb's Richo Cech himself! His lovely wife gingerly wrapped the potted little herb in a cloth covering "diaper" wrapped with twine. I love this little plant, it reminds me of the wonderful time herbhusband and I had at Rootstalk in Salem, Oregon this past September. I'm protecting it in the greenhouse, as it does not like cold temperatures. I'm looking forward to seeing it mature...and although I won't be using it in my skin care potions - I'm happy to have it join the rest of the herbs in the garden.

The Meyer Lemon is at it again. This year, I harvested over 40 lemons and that's not counting the dozen I left on the tree (seen here). I made limoncello with some of the peels - I lovely treat. Squeezing a bit of the juice in water is a wonderful bright pick me up any time of day. The taste is sweet and clean. The yellow Meyer's bring sunshine and joy on this drizzly day. To promote a healthy throat, it's great to have a squeeze of meyer lemon in warm water with a bit of honey. A lovely warm beverage on this cloudy day. That sounds so good, I'm signing off to make a cup and grab a good herb book and rest easy for the rest of the day. Hope you find some time to treat yourself to this lovely infusion some time this winter season.

Wishing you warmth and health herbal friends,