Herbal Goodness

Friday, November 6th, 2009
Herbal Remedies

Herbal Remedies

I’ve not been well for a few weeks – I got the dreaded swine flu! So my focus has been on using natural remedies (and some paracetamol!) to feel better. Honey and lemon tea is so soothing for a sore throat, but I wanted it to have more of a kick and contain some herbal goodness, so I first made up a jar of herbal honey with fresh and dried sage leaves from my garden and fresh ginger root. 1 teaspoon of the honey and 1 freshly squeezed lemon, plus boiled water, makes a delicious and healing hot drink.

I’ve taken a lot of echinacea tincture to boost my immune system, along with plenty of vitamin C, but I bought the tincture from the health shop, as I’ve been banned from digging up the echinacea root in our garden to make my own!

To help my cough, I made up a simple syrup using kitchen cupboard ingredients such as vinegar, honey and cayenne pepper to calm the cough and cut through phlem. For the recipe, see my tutorial in the Christmas edition of UK Handmade magazine, out the beginning of December.

Lavender

Saturday, July 4th, 2009
Drying Lavender

Drying Lavender on a Baking Sheet

I’m making some lavender cupcakes tomorrow, to go with my remaining rose petal ones, so I’ve just picked a handful of lavender sprigs from the garden to dry. I laid them out on a baking sheet and popped them in my fan oven on “defrost” to dry gently. After a few hours, they’ll come out and continue to air dry overnight. Hopefully I’ll have some lovely dried lavender by the morning! I need about 8 sprigs to shred and add to to the sponge mixture, and 12 to decorate the tops of the cupcakes.

Summer Days

Monday, June 22nd, 2009
Wild Stawberry

Wild Strawberry

At last, it finally feels like summer! We’ve had enough sunny days inbetween the cloud for me to believe that it really is summertime :) When I got home today I dashed out into the garden to take a few pics while the sun was still shining. Summer is my favourite time of year (apart from Spring and Autumn!) I love the bumble bees buzzing around the garden and the frogs calling to each other.

Feverfew

Feverfew

I grow the wild strawberries especially for baking, because they look so pretty topping cupcakes or cheesecake, or dropped into sparkling drinks. The feverfew is for the occasional migraine, and the catmint is a fab sedative and relaxant, so I pop a flowerhead in my lemon balm tea before bed. I have to grow the catmint in a pot, so that I can hide it from Freddie when he’s on the rampage – like all cats he goes nuts for it and would destroy the whole plant if I let him!

Catmint

Catmint

Homemade Elderflower Cordial

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Homemade Elderflower Cordial

Originally uploaded by gilly.flower

Mmmm, the taste of the summer… A nice glass of sparkling elderflower cordial is just what I feel like on a lovely sunny day, so we make a batch each year to whip out when the sun makes an appearance. I picked a bagful of the flowers and steeped them in sugar syrup water with lemons for 24 hours. The cordial is best diluted with sparkling water and a few leaves of mint, and I like to drop a few wild strawberries into mine :)
Check out UK Handmade Magazine’s  new tutorial blog – elderflower cordial tutorial coming soon…

Making Carrot Oil

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Making Carrot Oil

Originally uploaded by gilly.flower 

I made a small amount of carrot and rosemary oil to use in the herbal hand balm tutorial, but this batch of carrot oil is just for me! It should last me all summer, for the various herbal remedies and creams I plan to make.

It’s very simple to do: you just pack a kilner jar with grated carrot (about 4 large carrots) and cover with olive oil (about 500ml). Leave in a sunny spot on the windowsill to macerate for 3 weeks, then strain through a muslin cloth and bottle. Hey presto, you have a wonderful, skin nourishing oil rich in antioxidants!

Honey Carrot & Rosemary Herbal Hand Balm

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Honey Carrot & Rosemary Herbal Hand Balm
I’ve been making a homemade herbal balm this week, mainly in the evenings when I’ve had a bit of spare time. Fresh carrots and rosemary, plus a good dollop of honey, are nourishing, moisturising and strengthening, and give the balm a lovely fresh scent.
It’s fairly quick and easy to make, but it took me quite a while to finish it as I made it in stages so that I could photograph each step. It’s for a herbal tutorial for the next edition of UK Handmade magazine.
Don’t miss the summer issue, out in June!

Lemon Balm Loveliness

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

Lemon balm, or melissa, has a gorgeous lemony uplifting scent. It makes me smile each morning when I pick a leaf to add to my mint tea. It’s volatile oils are sedative, so it makes a soothing drink before bedtime too.

I grow melissa in a pot so that it doesn't swamp my little herb patch

Growing melissa in a pot prevents it swamping my herb patch

I like to make a bottle of lemon balm oil each summer, by macerating the leaves in warm olive oil. It’s great to massage onto your temples to aid sleep, or can be dabbed onto cold sores, bites and stings due to it’s antiviral and antibacterial properties.

Bottled Melissa Oil

Bottled Melissa Oil

To make the oil

Finely chop 50g of lemon balm leaves and add half  to 100ml olive oil in a saucepan.

Chopped Lemon Balm

Chopped Lemon Balm

Heat gently for 15 minutes and then strain through muslin cloth.

Put the strained the oil back in the saucepan and add the other half of the chopped leaves.

Heat for a further 15 minutes and then strain again.

Your oil is now ready to be bottled and kept in the fridge.

Adding a few drops of lavender essential oil will give the oil a lovely fragrance and enhance it’s relaxing, healing and sedative effects.

After the rain comes sun….

Friday, May 15th, 2009
Alliums in my garden

Alliums in my garden

Well, it rained this morning, but now the sun has come out ! I grabbed a moment to sit in the garden by the bay tree, next to my lovely alliums. I’ve been thumbing through Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World – it’s a fab little recipe book for the vegan in your life, and the gingerbread cupcakes are highly recommended :)

Minty!

Thursday, May 7th, 2009
Fresh mint ready to be dried

Fresh mint ready to be dried

I love a cup of fresh mint tea for breakfast, but it’s so handy to dry some for the winter months. This just-picked mint from my little herb patch is tied up with white ribbon, ready to be hung up and dried for a few weeks in a dark place.