Talking Flowers

Talking Flowers

People had a “flower language” over 150 years ago. They gave each other bouquets of talking flowers that said a lot without speaking out loud. You could do that, too or use flower names as code language in notes or emails.

Following is a list of commonly used flowers and what the message was from each beautiful flower.

Talking Flowers

  • Amaryllis: “You’re beautiful, but I’m shy.”
  • Apple blossom: “I like you best.”
  • Camellia: “Thank you!”
  • Carnation: “I love you truly.”
  • White Chrysanthemum: “This is the truth.”
  • Four Leaf Clover: “Be mine.”
  • Red Daisy: “You’re beautiful even if you don’t know it.”
  • Wild Daisy: “I’ll think about it.”
  • Dandelion: “I’m flirting with you!”
  • Fern: “You are fascinating and sincere.”
  • Holly: “Did you forget me?”
  • Iris: “I’ve got a message for you.”
  • Ivy: “I’ll be true to you.”
  • Lily of the Valley: “I’m happy again!”
  • Oak Leaves: “We will be brave!”
  • Parsley: “I feel silly.”
  • Purple Pansy: “I’m thinking about you.”
  • Red Rose: “I love you.”
  • White Rose: “I won’t tell.”
  • Sweet Pea: “Let’s get together.”
  • Violet: “I’m your faithful friend.”
  • Zinnia: “I’m sad since you went away.”

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Summer Time

Summer Time

Summer time came way too late in my neck of the woods this year. It’s been an odd year weather-wise and personally, as well as across my country, a bit of a bitter-sweet time of life.

When things get like this, for me there is nothing better than taking a trip back in time to simpler days, kinder times, and gentler people via a good old-fashioned book.

For my “adventures” this time around, I choose the series of books by “Miss Read”.  I’m currently reading
Village Diary (The Fairacre Series #2).

Miss Read Village Diary Summer Time Ponderings
Miss Read Village Diary

Miss Read (1913-2012) was the pseudonym of Mrs. Dora Saint, a former schoolteacher beloved for her novels of English rural life, especially those set in the fictional villages of Thrush Green and Fairacre.

While reading this evening, a few paragraphs just begged to be shared. These paragraphs share how children amused themselves back in they days of innocence and hard work. How mother nature amused, taught and delighted both child and adult.

I’m going to share those paragraphs in hopes others may enjoy this sweet journey back in time to the goodness of nature.

How lucky country children are in these natural delights that be ready to their hand! Every season and every plant offers changing joys. As they meander along the lane that leads to our school all kinds of natural toys present themselves for their diversion.

The seedpods of stitchwort hang ready for delightful popping between thumb and finger. Later the bladder campion offers a larger, if less crisp, globe to burst. In the autumn, acorns, beechnuts and conkers bedizen their path, with all their manifold possibilities of fun.

In the summer time, there is an assortment of honeys to be sucked from bindweed flowers, held fragile and fragrant to the hungry lips, and the tiny funnels of honeysuckle and clover blossoms to taste.  Outside the Post Office grow three fine lime trees, murmurous with bees on summer afternoons, and these supply wide, soft young leaves in May, which the children spread over their opened mouths and, inhaling sharply, burst with a pleasant and satisfying explosion.

At about the same time of year the young hawthorn leaves are found good to eat. ‘Bread and cheese’ some call them. While the crisp sweet stalks of primroses form another delicacy, with the added delight of the thread like inner stalk which pulls out from the hairier outer sheath.

The summer time brings flower games, the heads and red satin skirts made from the turned-back petals. ‘He loves me, he don’t’ counted solemnly as the daisy petals flutter down, and ‘Bunny’s mouth’ made by pressing the sides of the yellow toadflax flowers which scramble over our chalky Fairacre banks.

And always, whatever the season, there is a flat ribbon of grass blade to be found which, when held between thumbs and blown upon, can emit the most hideous and ear-splitting screech, calculated to fray the nerves of any grownup, and warm the heart of any child within earshot.”

On so on it goes. Imagine living in such times, when nature was all that was needed to amuse and delight. When people treated each other with respect and kindness. When the body was far more than a mere sex object…

It sounds so wonderful.

Natural Teeth Whitening

Natural Teeth Whitening with Strawberries

Strawberries can actually whiten your smile!

Fresh Strawberries for Natural Teeth Whitening
Fresh Strawberries

Combined with baking soda, strawberries become a natural tooth-cleanser, removing stains from coffee, red wine and dark sodas.

Natural Teeth Whitening Recipe

1 ripe strawberry
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Crush the strawberry to a pulp, then mix with the baking powder until blended.

Use a soft toothbrush to spread the mixture onto your teeth. Leave on for five minutes. Brush thoroughly with toothpaste to remove the berry-baking powder mix.

Floss to remove any seeds and rinse. Use once a week.

Note: Be careful not to use this too often as the acid could damage the enamel on your teeth.

Strawberry Nutrition

Strawberries are high in vitamin C and other cancer-fighting antioxidants. Strawberries also boast a lot of fiber, plus some iron and potassium. At just 45 calories per cup, strawberries provide 85 mg of vitamin C and bioflavonoids.

Did you know?

Historically, strawberries were used as a medicinal plant. Inside the body, the berries were said to remedy digestive upsets, while the leaves and roots were used for gout. Externally, the berries were used as to treat sunburn and blemishes. The juice was even used for discolored teeth – as noted above.

Love strawberries? Consider trying our recipe for Yogurt Popsicles  – strawberry-luscious!

 

Home Grown Herbs

Home Grown Herbs Uses and Storage Ideas

Many home grown herbs will freeze beautifully to extend their shelf life. For best flavor, use herbs fresh out of the garden whenever possible. Always pinch back basil, thyme, oregano and chives so that you get fullest production out of the season.

Home Grown Herbs
Home Grown Herbs

Plants like rosemary need a good cutting now and then to keep them from getting too woody. If you haven’t planned a meal around your pruning, try some of these ideas to preserve your herbs.

Freezing Herbs

Wash herbs very well and gently pat dry with paper towels. Wrap leaves or sprigs in freezer paper or place in freezer proof zip-lock bags. Seal and freeze. These herbs can be chopped and thawed for use in cooking, but are not suitable for garnish. They will become limp when thawed. Flavor is best if herbs are used within a few months.

Herb Cubes

This is a very convenient way of storing herbs. Put the clean, dry herbs into the bottom of an ice cube tray. Fill the compartments with water or stock. Then when you need herbs, just pop them into soups, stews or sauces. You can mix and match to make combinations that you use in your recipes.

Drying Fresh Herbs

One thing to remember when using dried herbs as compared to fresh, is that you want to use 1/3 teaspoon powdered or 1/2 teaspoon crushed for every tablespoon of fresh.

Dried herbs for fresh herbs
Dried herbs for fresh herbs

Air drying is the simplest method requiring only rubber bands to secure the stems of herbs together.  Just hang upside down in a dark, airy area with good air circulation until dry. This method takes the longest time.

Microwave Drying Herbs

Helpful Healthy Herbs Variety
Healthy Home Grown Herbs

Try this simple microwave drying method with herbs such as parsley, basil, thyme and oregano. Wash and gently pat dry herbs picked in the morning just after the dew has dried. This is when your herbs will have the most oils in the leaves. Spread them out on a microwave safe dish in a single layer between two leaves. Spread them out on a microwave safe dish in a single layer between two paper towels. Place in microwave and cook on high for about a minute Check them. Continue cooking for about 20 seconds at a time until the herbs are just crisp.

Drying Herbs in a Conventional Oven

When drying with a conventional oven, begin by placing the clean herbs on shallow trays in the oven. Leave the oven door ajar and turn the heat to the lowest setting. This would be about 150 degrees. Allow the herbs to dry, testing after each hour. A small electric fan placed to circulate air into the oven cavity will speed the drying time.

Storing Fresh Herbs

When storing, place herbs in airtight jars, out of direct sunlight.

If you’d like more in-depth information on home grown herbs, might we suggest the book, Your Backyard Herb Garden: A Gardener’s Guide to Growing Over 50 Herbs Plus How to Use Them in Cooking, Crafts, Companion Planting and More.

This herb-helpful book by Miranda Smith will teach you everything you need to know about growing your favorite herbs using safe, natural, all-organic methods!

Helpful Healthy Herbs

Helpful Healthy Herbs: Ancient Healing

Humans have always longed for good health and vitality. Even prehistoric cave dwellers searched for relief from their various ailments. Many ancient Egyptians had arthritis. Medieval people experienced all kinds of infections and sicknesses. And don’t forget the great plague, which wiped out a large part of the world’s population!

What did all these people do before the dawn of multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical companies with their thousands of synthetic medications?

They turned to the plant kingdom.

Helpful Healthy Herbs Variety

Through trial and error, the earliest humans discovered that some plants have medicinal properties. These properties, they learned, could help to purify, normalize and energize the body. They also found that many plants could enhance the body’s ability to heal itself.

Of course, humans have always looked for other – perhaps more sophisticated – methods to heal illness and promote health. Some of these methods were downright dangerous. Like using leeches to “bleed” a patient. Other methods were ineffective. Sorcery, for example, probably didn’t cure too many sick people…except through the power of suggestion.

Today we have sophisticated surgical procedures and a positively mind-boggling array of chemical treatments. We have lasers, laparoscopes, lithotripsy. Intensive care units, pacemakers and in vitro fertilization. And, of course, we have the countless pills, capsules and injections.

Still, throughout the evolution of medicine, one treatment has remained constant: The use of plants as a natural remedy. Leeching, sorcery and other “weird science” techniques have come and gone, but herbal medicine has withstood the test of time.

In fact, half of all our modern-day drugs come not from a laboratory test tube, but from plants! Aspirin and digitalis are just two examples. Aspirin, for instance, comes from two herbs: White willow bark and meadowsweet. The “modern” decongestant pseudoephedrine was discovered by Chinese herbalists more than 5,000 years ago.

Helpful Healthy Herbs First Known Recordings

The first written record of herbal medicine dates back to the Sumerians – more than 5,000 years ago. After that, we find many other historical traces of herbalism, including Chinese herb books from 2700 B.C., Old Testament references to herbs and a first century A.D. Greek encyclopedia of 500 herbs.

Sixty-seven healing herbs are mentioned in the 4,500-year old Rig Veda, one of India’s four books of wisdom. Herbs were a big part of ancient India’s Ayurveda medicine.

The world’s oldest surviving medical text, the Ebers Papyrus, mentions 876 herbal formulas that were used by Egyptian herbalists. This document dates back to 1,500 B.C.!

When monasteries were formed after the fall of Rome, the Church looked askance at herbs. However, “underground herbalists” flourished…and many of them were women.

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, used herbs. So did Thomas Jefferson. Likewise for most Native Americans. And the founder of the Kellogg cereal company was a naturopath who frequently turned to herbs in his practice.

Simply put, an herb is any plant that is known to have medicinal qualities. The great advantage of herbs is that they are natural. So they do not produce side effects. However, an herb may cause an allergic reaction, but that’s rare. It’s also possible that an herb may interact with a medication. Check with your doctor before taking herbs if you take prescription medication(s).

How fast do helpful healthy herbs work? Keep in mind, they are not like synthetic medicines. Their primary action is to balance and restore the body’s normal processes. That may take some time. But for the millions of people who have been helped by herbs, the benefits are well worth the wait.

Will herbs work for you?

There is only one way to find out. Discover for yourself what herbs have to offer. Look for their healing secrets! Visit our sister site’s herbal section, Herbal Bytes.

Stuffed Vine Leaves Recipe

Stuffed Vine Leaves Recipe

This stuffed vine leaves recipe celebrates the goodness of onions, carrots, tomatoes and rice. Seasoned with parsley, dill, coriander and white pepper.

This recipe qualifies as a vegetarian recipe. It creates a mouth watering dish, especially for the vegetable lover. In Georgia, fillings wrapped in vine leaves are very popular.

Stuffed Vine Leaves Recipe Ingredients

Stuffed Vine Leaves Recipe
Stuffed Vine Leaves

2 onions
2 carrots, grated
5 tomatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups rice
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh coriander, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1 pound vine leaves

Directions

Wash the leaves in cold water and add (individually) to a pot of salted, boiling water.

Mix the vegetables, rice and herbs. Add the lemon juice and some of the oil. With a sharp knife, remove stalks of vine leaves and reserve. Spread each vine leaf on a smooth surface, shiny side facing down. Place a pencil-thin amount of the vegetable mixture in each leaf. Fold in the right and left sides and roll up tightly.

Put the vine stalks in a pot and place the stuffed vine leaves closely packed on top. Cover with salted water and the remaining oil. Cover and simmer gently over a moderate heat for 30 minutes. Remove vine leaves from pot and place on a platter.

Yield: 24 stuffed vine leaves.

Recipe Note: If desired, you could melt a bit of parsley butter over the top. We’ll share our sister site’s recipe for homemade Parsley Butter.

Homemade Parsley Butter Recipe

Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup fresh parsley, minced
Freshly grated black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced

Directions:
Combine all thoroughly. Cover tightly and refrigerate up to 2 weeks.

Parsley butter is good on any meat, fish, chicken, bread or vegetable.

Parsley Butter Recipe Card

(Click image to enlarge)

Parsley Butter Recipe
Parsley Butter Recipe

 

An 1869 Root Beer Recipe

Root Beer

During the week of May 9th in 1876, the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition was opened and sassafras flavored Hires Root Beer was introduced to a thirsty nation. Hires became wildly popular. You can read more about both Hires and their success with Root Beer from the Iowa Digital Library, Hires’ Root Beer 1891.

In 1869, the following recipe for home made root beer became widespread and exceedingly popular  – but we don’t know where it originated, unfortunately.

1869 Root Beer Recipe

For each gallon of water take 1/2 ounce each of hops, burdock, yellow dock, sarsaparilla, dandelion and spikenard roots, bruised. Boil about 20 minutes and strain while hot. Add 8 to 10 drops of oils of spruce and sassafras mixed in equal proportions. When cooled to a warm temp, add 2 to 3 tablespoons yeast, molasses, 2/3 pint, or white sugar 1/2 pound. Put the mix in a jar, with a cloth covering it, let it work for 2 to 3 hours, then bottle and set in a cool place.

869 Root Beer Recipe
1869 Root Beer Recipe

 

Sassafras

The roots of Sassafras can be steeped to make tea and were used in the flavoring of root beer until being banned by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1960. Subsequently, both Canada and the United States have passed laws against the sale of any consumable products (beverages, foods, cosmetics, health products such as toothpaste, and others) that contain more than specific small amounts of safrole. Most home brewers are now making home made root beers from commercially sold root beer concentrates.

Runny Nose? Try Elderflower Tea

Runny Nose? Try Elderflower Tea

Oh how annoying a runny nose can be! Or is “sniffles” a better word? Well, by either title, it’s a nuisance. Anytime you have a runny nose, think about drinking elderflower tea. Elderflower makes a rich, full-tasting, caffeine-free herbal tea.

If you drink this tea throughout allergy season, it will help to reduce itchy eyes and a runny nose. Elderberry eases respiratory symptoms from excess mucous, cough, throat strain or discomfort to muscle strain.

Elderflower has long been enjoyed in Europe. The U.S. is slowly starting to catch up.

Homemade Elderflower Tea Recipe for that runny nose:

3 cups water
3 tablespoons dried elder flowers

Let steep for two hours. Strain out the flowers, re-heat and drink 3 cups a day.

Alternatively, you can purchase a great elderflower tea called The Republic of Tea Elderflower SuperHerb Tea Bags

More About the Elderberry

Elder Berry has been used in European folk medicine since antiquity for a host of maladies, ranging from joint discomfort and constipation to respiratory problems.

Elder berries are high in anthocyanidins, powerful purple pigment compounds that act as potent antioxidants, and includes vitamin C.

The berries anthocyanidins help ease the joints by its antioxidant activity. It also detoxifies tissues and promotes better digestion.

Elderberry flowering
Elderberry Plant Flowering

Stock up on elderflower tea for the coming winter and beat that runny nose and those sniffles!

Household Uses for Tea Leaves

Household Uses for Those Humble Tea Leaves

Many things we dispose of every day can have other uses – such as old tea leaves. Following are traditional tips for using old tea leaves in every day household chores. These tips have lasted for generations…

Tea Leaves

  • As a deodorizer. Used tea leaves make good odor-removers for refrigerators and wardrobes. First dry the leaves thoroughly and then wrap them in a gauze bag. The leaves can be dry-roasted in a fry pan to revive their deodorizing function, but be careful not to burn them. If you wrap the leaves in a decorative cloth, you will have an attractive display item.
  • As a fertilizer. Squeeze out all the water from old tea leaves and bury them in the soil next to the roots of plants and bushes. They are great for indoor plants, too. After some time you will notice the leaves looking brighter.
  • For a finger bowl. After handling fish, you can clean your hands by rubbing them with used tea leaves to remove fishy smells. In the same way, after eating crab or prawns, rinse your hands in a bowl of tea. Tea leaves will also remove grease from your hands after handling meat.
  • For diaper rash and bedsores. After the first serving, pour more hot water on the tea leaves and then pour this into another container to let it cool to the baby’s body temperature. Dip a piece of soft gauze in the tea, squeeze it lightly, and wipe the affected areas. This method is also effective against bedsores.
  • For treating cuts. Chew the used tea leaves a little to soften them, and then apply to minor cuts such as those sustained working in the kitchen. This will stop the bleeding, and the tannin acts as a disinfectant.
  • For morning sickness. For many pregnant women, nibbling on steeped leaves, especially those with a high content of vitamin C, such as quality sencha, can relieve morning sickness.
  • As bath salts. Used tea leaves wrapped in gauze and placed in the bath emit a rich aroma that will help soothe your body and mind. Tea leaves are also said to improve the complexion, but please be aware that tea will stain towels.
  • For athlete’s foot and hemorrhoids. Apply soft tea leaves to those parts of your feet affected with athlete’s food, or apply a gauze soaked in strong bancha tea leaves, changing it several times a day. If the infection is still at an early stage, this is an effective remedy because of the antiseptic quality of tannin. Inflammation between the fingers, caused when the hands are immersed in water for a long time, seems to heal quickly if the fingers are soaked in bancha for about 10 minutes and then dried gently. In mild cases of hemorrhoids, washing with lukewarm bancha is said to relief from itchiness.
  • For producing dyes. Just as you can produce dyes from herbs, you can make a pale-green dye by adding powdered green tea to water and boiling it to reduce the liquid.
  • For stuffing pillows. Pillows stuffed with used tea leaves that have been thoroughly dried in the sun are said to prevent hot flushes and improve blood circulation.
  • As first aid after a tooth extraction. Tannin has an antiseptic effect, so rinsing your mouth with strong bancha will help to stop the bleeding after a tooth has been extracted.

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Top 10 Most Potent Herbs and Spices

Top Ten Most Potent Herbs and Spices

According to the Journal of Medicinal Foods, the top ten most potent herbs and spices are as follows:

  1. Cloves. The oil and the extract are used commercially to flavor meat products, condiments, spiced fruits, candies, chewing gum, wines and liqueurs. The distilled leaf oil which is milder, is also used to flavor meats.
  2. Cinnamon. Commercially, cinnamon is used to flavor baked foods, meats, candy, pickles, chewing gum, soft drinks, ice cream and liqueurs. Cinnamon is an amazing spice with many health benefits.
  3. Jamaican allspice. A clove like aroma and a heavy sweetness. Used whole in poached fish stock, vegetable and fruit pickles, wild game. Used ground in cakes, puddings, cookies, gravy.
  4. Apple pie spice. Commonly a combination of ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground allspice and ground ginger. Adds wonderful flavor to baked goods such as apple pie, strudel and baked apples.
  5. Oregano (ground). Used extensively in Greek and Italian cooking. Pairs well with tomatoes, eggplant, and any meat. Pairs well with pasta dishes.
  6. Pumpkin pie spice (mixture). A flavorful spice blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice.
  7. Marjoram. Mainly used in stuffing
  8. Sage. Sage and onion stuffing for ducks, geese and pork enables the stomach to digest the rich food.
  9. Thyme. Add thyme to stocks, marinades, stuffing’s, sauces and soups. Thyme aids digestion of fatty foods. Add to chicken, fish, hot vegetables, fruit salads and jams.
  10. Gourmet Italian spice. A very unique blend of Thyme, Rosemary and sage. Brings a taste of Italy to your table.

Top 10 Most Potent Herbs and Spices

Side Note: How About Upgrading Your Marinades with Herbs?

Researchers discovered that cooking meat at high temperatures can create carcinogenic compounds (see also, Remove Carcinogens when Grilling Meat), but herbs can be your hero! Rosemary, mint and oregano contain ployphenol antioxidants that help block the formation of these heterocyclic amines, suggests research from Kansas State University.