As some of you may have realized by now,
I LOVE BASIL!
I love the smell, the taste, the look!
I'm the woman in the grocery store with the basil pushed into
her nose while she shops.....

This year I planted purple basil in my very large planter outside and
although the influx of the dreaded Japanese beatle wasn't as bad as
 last year, my basil leaves were getting eaten.
I did my coffee remedy which I came across last year as an
organic discouragement to these beatles, but these little guys are
tough to beat this year for some strange reason.
My basil is quite holey and I was worried about not having
a lush crop of it for my Pesto!
About three weeks ago, I decided to pull the basil out of my nose
and bring it home to plant it.  Inside.  Where there were no bugs.
YES!!
See the Basil Wizard?  He's very wise and scary looking isn't he?
My friend Gail, who lives way up north here in Ontario, gifted me with him
a couple years ago.  He was made by a local artisan and he's very
unique don't you think?  I think maybe he casts spells on the basil
because it's now about a foot tall in the low parts!!
You can barely see the Basil Wizard surrounded by the lushness!
Basil is a magical herb, therefore it's only fitting to have a Wizard
watching over it!
xo
 
Hi everyone!
I was up super early today and then....fell asleep on my couch with Blarney!
Ugh!
I was supposed to be up to post this so you'd know to head on over to
Eleventh House
and see my guest posting on herb gardening!
Tammi named it "Welcome Spring and Welcome Wendy"
and I'm so honoured to have been asked by her to not only
be her first guest blogger ever....but to have it be my first guest blog EVER!
While you're there....take a look around!
Tammi's a wonderful person, a loyal blogging friend and so very creative!
Please come back and tell me what you think?!

Happy Spring!
xo
 
A simple recipe and some "Bling" jars
for
Honey Vanilla Lip Balm
Go HERE (to Herbs, Flowers & Such) to learn how to make this yourself
with only four ingredients!

Happy Lip Smackin'!
shabby creek cottage
Chic on a Shoestring Decorating
Chic on a Shoestring Decorating
Funky Junk's Sat Nite Special
 
Go HERE
to see how I made Bath Salts and
how you can too!
Have a Glorious Day!!!
 
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            Suddenly, everything is ripening...doesn't it seem that way when you have a garden?  One day you look at it and things are just starting to bloom and the tomatoes are still green, the peppers are still smallish and then suddenly, you take another close look and it appears that everything has ripened all at once and the blooms are starting to brown...overnight!  That's how I perceive it to be anyway.  Yesterday, I had to get myself in gear and pick up some cold-pressed safflower oil before my marigolds stopped blooming!  And to catch the rose petals I hadn't dealt with yet. 

            My Aunt Linda gave me this recipe and it's basically the same as any others in my numerous herb books.  It's very easy to make infused calendula oil and rose oil works on the same premise.    These jars here look quite lovely don't they?  Well, wait until you see them in 10-12 days....GROSS!!  Then they are all brown and slimy looking inside and have lost their gorgeous colours.  They look like something you'd see in a witch's kitchen at that point.  They'll have been sitting in a sunny window ledge  all that time actually fermenting in the safflower oil.  It's so worth it in the end though because you'll have a wonderful, natural homemade remedy and some bath oil!  And, the colour doesn't really matter in the end because it will be clearer and stored in a coloured bottle or jar.

            I'll go over the recipe again with you (for those of you who missed it in the Calendula blog last week).   Also, if you are going to make this Calendula Oil or Salve...please ensure you read up on Calendula.  I try to use only the most aromatic roses in my Rose OIl as well...there's no point in putting rose petals into the infusion if they only look beautiful, because as I said above...they won't for long!  Ew!

Calendula (Marigold) and Rose Oil
Pick  bowls of flowers
Break off the petals and rub (bruise) the them as you fill a canning jar.  Push them down.
Pour in Cold-Pressed Safflower Oil to cover the petals.
Seal and place on a windowsill in a sunny spot.
Leave for 10-12 days.
Fill another jar tightly with bruised flowers (after the 10-12 days).
Strain the calendula mixture that's been sitting through cheesecloth into the new jar.
Top up with more Cold-Pressed Safflower Oil to cover.
Repeat  standing time on the windowsill for another 10-12 days in the new jar.
Repeat straining process.
Store in a coloured glass bottle or jar for up to a year in a cool, dark place....no...not your mind!

            The Calendula oil can be used as described in last weeks blog Calendula and the infused Rose Oil can be used similarly in hand and body creams or I like to put a few drops of Lavender Essential Oil into the tub with some of the Rose Oil...I love the combination of these two scents! 

Calendula (Marigold) Salve
Wash 4 small 1/2 cup jars in hot soapy water and dry well.
Pour 1 cup infused oil into the top of a double boiler that has hot (not boiling, just hot) water in the bottom of it             and heat the oil until it's warm...not hot.
Add 5 Tbsp. grated beeswax slowly and keep stirring until it melts.
Add 4 tsp. aloe vera gel if you have it.
Test the consistency of the creamy salve by dabbing some on a plate with a spoon and letting it cool.  If it seems             to be the thickness you want, then it's ready.  If not, add a little more beeswax.
You can also add 5-20 drops of Lavender Essential Oil (also a healer) into the mixture for added scent.
Remove from heat and pour into jars labelled and dated.
Store in a dark, cool place for up to a year.
(rule of thumb: 4 parts oil, 1 part beeswax)

            You can add almost any ingredients you like to this salve.  If you add some drops of tea tree oil as well because it is antifungal and antiseptic, it will only enhance your homemade salve.  Calendula is great on cracked skin and for healing cuts.

            Obviously I won't be making my creams for a few weeks, but if you want to start doing the first step, do it now!  Get the flowers infusing in the oil on your windowsill!   Don't wait to see my finished product or it will be too late for you!

            I really forgot how much I enjoyed dabbling in herbs until I started this blog up.  Thanks to the readers of my ramblings!

           


 
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            I can't believe it's Thursday again (Herb day on my blog) so soon!  In our house, garlic is a staple used in so many recipes brought to our table.  How can you not love garlic?  My favourite way to have garlic is to just roast it in the oven with olive oil drizzled over it (tops cut off the whole head) in a small covered casserole dish.  If you serve up the roasted garlic to be smeared on french bread toasts with melted brie and a jam or jelly of your choice...you will think you're in heaven!   I first had this mouthwatering dish at the Rude Native when it was in Hamilton and Dan & I rushed home to recreate this for friends! 

            Garlic is an amazing medicinal food in that it acts as an antibiotic, reduces blood pressure, it's an anticoagulant, lowers cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels and also can be an antihistamine.  As a decongestant, garlic is extremely effective in treating bronchitis.  If you eat raw cloves daily it can assist with digestion disorders and infections, while still maintaining beneficial flora in the intestines.  Some pharmaceutical antibiotics used for stomach disorders can kill off the beneficial flora.   My Aunt Linda drinks tomato juice with minced fresh garlic in it daily!  I tried it and it's not for me....something about garlic in the morning just doesn't go over well with my senses...but perhaps I should start drinking it at dinnertime?!

            You can buy garlic in capsule form and by taking this daily, it's been proven to prevent further heart attacks in people who have already had a heart attack...as well as fight infections in the body.  Using garlic topically (directly rubbing on the skin)  on acne will help clear your complexion, but I'd suggest using the garlic "pearls" which can be broken up like Vitamin E and don't have the smell associated with garlic.   You could also use it mashed up on warts or corns.  Digesting it in it's raw form (as my Aunt does) is best, but you will notice that your breath may be horrid the next morning or you smell bad!  This is because it travels through your system so quickly.  If you rubbed garlic on your feet, you'd be able to taste it 10 minutes later!  To get rid of that sharp taste in your mouth the next morning, regardless of how you ingest it, you can eat some parsley which should nullify it.

             Planting garlic in your garden among your other plants, rather than just in a row, acts as a natural insecticide, much as the marigolds I spoke of last week in my blog.  And, there's nothing like pulling fresh garlic out of your garden just before a meal....talk about fresh!

            Don't forget about how great it is for warding off Vampires!  Enjoy your "bite" of garlic today!

 
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          Calendula, otherwise known as Marigolds, are an extremely versatile flower.  I actually think they should have been an herb because of it's many utilizations.  It is edible, can be used for medicine and beauty products and is a natural bug repellent in your vegetable garden.  How great is that?  Never mind the fact that it's gorgeous orange flowers can cheer you up and just looking at it can "clear" your head.  At the end of this blog reading, I hope you're going to want to rush out and get some marigolds to possibly experiment with in your cooking or beauty regiment!

        Let's start with usiing them as an edible plant.  The only thing you need to be careful about with buying or growing calendula is to ensure it is Calendula and not Tagetes, which is an African Marigold and often is mixed up by buyers and sellers.  Anything Calendula is okay unless it is even shown on the tag together with Tagetes, which is an oil with high levels of ketones.  Signet Marigold and Pot Marigold are best in flavour for recipes.  That said....because it would be bad if my blog hurt you!...you can use different parts of the flower for cooking.  If you use the flower, be sure to either pick it just before using or keep in a vase until ready to trim up and use because the petals don't last very well after being plucked, even in the fridge.  You can just pat any moisture out of the petals on paper towelling after rinsing.  Petals are great in salads for colour and you can use in cookies or stir fries as well.  Small leaves of the plant may be used like spinach and be boiled while fresh.  Check out "The Atlantic - What's for Dinner" and find a few interesting ideas for using marigolds at your table!

        As far as medicinal uses are concerned, marigolds have been used for centuries for skin problems like cracked skin and inflammations in the cream form.  It can be used in the form of a tea for gastric problems with just 1 cup of boiled water poured on 2tsp of flowers.  Infused oils can be used on broken capillaries or varicose veins. 

         To make an infused oil (which you would use to make a cream form as well) all you need to do is pick whole flower heads of Pot Marigolds and only use good parts...no eaten sections or brown bits.  You won't be washing them, because that could cause a mold to form.  Bruise the petals and break the flowers up lightly and then pack them tightly into a canning jar.  Top up the jar with a light oil, such as grapeseed or safflower, (cold pressed) to the brim and place the jar in a sunny window for approx. 10-12 days.  Strain this mixture through cheesecloth and save the oil.  Pack new flowers all over again into the jar with the oil in it and top it up to the brim with fresh oil.  Once again, strain after 10-12 days in the sunshine and pour into a coloured jar or bottle and label!

         Medicinal and Beauty issues are closely related with Marigolds as you just learned with the calming bath aspect.  The oil or cream, used daily, can also help to reduce scars.  Due to the wonderful skin healing character of marigolds, it makes it a crossover cream or oil for skincare in general.

        I just want to tell you how I use them in my garden.  If you plant them around the outer edges of your veggie garden, they repel aphids from your plants and cabbage butterflies as well.  This really does work! 

        If anyone has any other thoughts or ideas of uses for calendula please comment and let me know as well!

        Start picking now!

(This blog is for my friend `Marigold` who`s getting married this weekend! xo)
       

 
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          Next to Lavender, basil is my absolute most favoured fragranced herb.  Whether I cut it from my crop or buy it in the grocery store, for the first 1/2 hr, I swear, all I do is try to take the very essence out of the leaves, holding them up to my nose and inhaling like a crazy beast!  I know...pretty visual huh?

          Each year, I plant about 5-6 small plants into a very deep planter like the one shown here.  It's important to have a deep planter for the roots.  I've found if I plant in a shallow planter, the plant is sparse and just doesn't have that volume one gets from a large planter.  Now, I've always pruned the flowers off when it starts to bloom, just by nipping them with your fingers at the base of the vertical flower and that seems to thicken it up.  But, recently, someone told me that they read you should lop off about 6" down the branch of leaves?  If anyone has any input about this, please comment or contact me.  Other than watering and getting rid of those hideous japanese beetles, basil is very easy to care for.

          The best thing to do with basil, in my world, is to make Pesto out of it!  Pesto is a wondrous food that I personally like to make a huge batch of every year and freeze.  The secret to freezing pesto is to not add the parmesan cheese into the recipe and after you load into small 4oz jars, put a layer of olive oil on top.  The olive oil helps the pesto to retain it's colour.  The drawback of basil is that it goes brown very quickly and the olive oil acts as a protective coating on it.  I'll be making my Pesto within the next week and will post the recipe and photo at that time.

          Basil is primarily a fabulous additive to food, however in Italy was used to symbolize courting.  A man would give a woman  he was interested in a sprig of basil to show his intentions.  We all know how much Italians use basil in their foods...I think they found the secret of cooking with this herb!

          You can also use basil leaves and rub them on insect bites to reduce inflammation and itchiness.  If you pour boiling water onto the leaves in a pot and inhale, it will help the common cold because basil fights infection and clears mucus.  It can aid digestion, help expel gas, prevent constipation and relieve stomach upset.  The only precaution given for basil is not to use if pregnant because it can stimulate menstrual flow and has actually been used to assist with expulsion of the placenta after birth, so definitely, don't use in tinctures, teas, etc if you are pregnant!

          If you do nothing else with it, just pick up a bunch at the beginning of your cruise around the grocery store next time and inhale as you push the buggy....I guarantee by the time you get to the checkout, you'll feel so rejuvenated....it actually will clear your head, make your concentration better and give you an all round sense of well-being.



 
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     Is there truly any scent more relaxing, more calming, more....feel like lying in a field of it, than lavender?  I'm not sure if it's just me, but as soon as I smell this divinity,  I feel all the stress being released from my body and soul.  Okay....maybe just most of it, but you understand what I'm saying?  Lavender is truly my favourite scented herb of all the herbs.  I've made lavender bath bombs, soap, bath bags, salts, linen sprays and I can't get enough of it!  You can ingest it internally in teas or food or externally with the oil, but whatever you do with it...it's going to help at the very least with your mindset. 

     Just the inhalation of lavender will help a headache related to stress especially.  It can induce you to a peaceful sleep by just having a sachet under your pillow or spraying your pillowcase with lavender linen spray.  Lavender oil can be used externally to soothe aches and pains by rubbing some oil on the area affected.

          Beauty wise, it can be used for acne flare ups and as a balm for sunburn just by mixing a few drops to a little water and then rubbing it on the affected area as well.   You can rub the oil undiluted onto insect bites and stings. Also...I know, but wait!  Lavender can help repair damaged hair too!

          If you want to dry lavender, collect it when the flowers start to fade...at the end stage of flowering and hang upside down in a cool place, in a paper bag.  This way when the flowers fall off, you can collect them!

          Now that you've learned a wee bit about lavender....this is where the lounging comes in.  Run yourself a lovely bath with several drops of lavender, lay back and inhale!  Trust me, you will feel calm.

          I wasn't planning on giving a mini-lesson on lavender today, but once I started there was no stopping me!  I think that perhaps once or twice a week I'll post another herb commentary here and if anyone has info to add, please do!  I'm also going to try to put some crafting recipes for herbs out there as well.   By the way, today was a lovely day....unlike yesterday.  We had friends at lunch for paninis, spinach salad and peach wine along with animated conversation with good friends we haven't seen enough of! 

          Hope your day was great too!