Tag Archives: old fashioned

4 Beloved Everyday Herbs: Going to Scarborough Fair

Tell him to buy me an acre of land, Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;
Betwixt the salt water and the sea sand, Then he shall be a true lover of mine.

One of my favorite songs of all time is Scarborough Fair, a traditional British ballad, particularly the version angelically sung by Simon+Garfunkel on their 1966 album “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme.” Whenever I listen, I feel like I am taken to a different time and place, a place of simplicity and purity, romance, magic, chivalry. The 4 herbs sung about in this traditional hymn are some of the most virtuous of herbs, and also the simplest to grow and to integrate into your day to day. Here are some ways to use the famous four and the benefits that come along with them, inspired by The Good Herb by Judith Benn Hurley:

1. Parsley, the magical multivitamin. Hurley writes, “just a cup of parsley contains more vitamin C than an orange, more beta carotene than a carrot, more calcium than milk, and much more iron than a serving of liver.” The Cherokee Indians used it to prevent infections and in Germany and China its been used traditionally to maintain healthy blood pressure levels. You can grow it in a container with enough space for its long taproot, and make sure it gets at least 6 hours of full sun per day. Take a bath with parsley tea when you’re fatigued and it will freshen you right up. Parsley is an herb of gemini.

2. Sage, the ceremonial healer+savior. Used by Native Americans in smudging ceremonies to cleanse and purify the air of any negativity. Ancient Arabic and Chinese herbalists drank sage tea for mental and spiritual clarity, and drinking a cup of sage tea helps concentration and memory. Sage is known to darken hair, cover up grey hairs, as a cooling skin soother after shaving, and to decrease excessive perspiration. Sage can be grown indoors near a window with 6 hours of sun. Keep it shorter than 12 inches tall for best health. Sage protects other plants such as Rosemary from disease. Sage is an herb of Aquarius.

3. Rosemary, the mind soother. The Greeks wore garlands of this herb to ward off the evil eye and to help them remember their studies. It was said that rosemary refused to grow in the gardens of an evil person. Rosemary was placed under pillows to prevent nightmares and induce peaceful sleep. It’s mostly used for stress management, headaches, and digestive health. It is full of calcium that is easily absorbed by the body. Rosemary does not endure freezing winters, so it is wise to plant it in pots and bring them in in wintertime. They need full sun, at least 4-6 hours a day, and the soil should be moist at all times. Rosemary is an herb of Aries.

4. Thyme, the courage-giving mint. Knights of the Middle Ages wore sprigs of thyme in their armor as a sign of courage and bravery. Thyme contains powerful antibacterial and antiseptic properties that fight off coughs, colds, and gum disease. It is high in iron, but use a splash of lemon in your thyme tea to help the body absorb it. You can make a thyme massage oil or tincture to cleanse the skin and treat fungal infections. Thyme grows like the hair of a maiden, falling over in tangles low to the ground. You can grow it in pots indoors and provide 6 hours of sunlight, and it will repel whiteflies. Keep the thyme healthy and growing by pruning them in winter and running your hands through the branches often. Thyme is an herb of Taurus and Libra.

via pen&paperie

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To Have + To Hold: Pretty Glass Apothecary Jars for Herbal Safekeeping

There are few things as precious and delicate as a perfect rosebud picked on a dewey morning, a bunch of fresh chamomile gathered and hung to dry, or sweet honeysuckle flowers collected at the peak of their beauty and vitality. Naturally the freshness and purity of herbs and flowers need to be preserved properly and in containers that are worthy of their beauty, not plastic bags or tupperware. Well preserved herbs stored in glass amber or blue jars and kept in shaded, cool areas can then be transformed into high quality healing teas, tinctures, hydrasols, and herbal oils. I have seen some beautiful herbal pantries that are filled with unusual jars, hand painted, etched, engraved, embellished, and labeled with handmade labels to house the owner’s beloved herbs. You can find unique pieces online or at yard sales and antique shops, here are some jars that inspire me:

Russell Johnson Imports

via Mademoiselle Chipotte at Etsy

via M.E. Beck Designs

via We ♥ It

via Allie’s Adornments on Flickr

via Polka Dot Rose on Etsy

via One Kings Lane

via Franz66 at Etsy

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11 Herbal Books to Inspire, Enchant, and Charm Your Way to Good Health

Maude Grieve’s Modern Herbal, 1971 via Botanical.com

Herbals are books that offer information about the uses, properties, and botanical descriptions of herbs — and it’s no wonder they were amongst the first books produced in Ancient Egypt, China, India, and Europe. Ancient herbals and their modern-day counterparts are always fascinating to me, filled with legend, folklore, and other tell-tale information that reveals the quirks and idiosyncrasies of the times they were born of. Many herbals were illustrated to assist readers in plant identification, and some used the doctrine of signatures, which purported that an herb’s physical appearance revealed its healing virtues. (For example, lungwort’s leaves look similar to diseased lungs, the area of the body they are used to treat.)
The beauty of herbals is how interconnected they all are, like branches of one tree, all referencing others and tapping into the wealth of herbal information passed down through the ages. It’s fascinating to see how modern-day science and research combine with the empirical data and theories of the ages in later herbals. Here are some of my beloved herbals, dating from the 17th Century to the amazing herbals still being produced in our days:

1. Bruton-Seal, Julie, and Seal, Matthew, 2009. Backyard Medicine: Harvest and Make Your Own Herbal Remedies. Skyhorse Publishing. (*rare)

2. Christopher, John R., 1996. School of Natural Healing. Nutribooks Corporation.

3. Culpeper, Nicholas, (1653). Culpeper’s Complete Herbal: A Book of Natural Remedies of Ancient Ills. Applewood Books, 2006.

4. De Bairacle Levy, Juliette, 1997. Nature’s Children. Ash Tree Publishing. (*rare)

Herbs + Things by Jeanne Rose, 1972.

5. Gladstar, Rosemary, 2008. Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family. Story Publishing.

6. Green, Chelsea, 2005. The Herbalist’s Way: The Art and Practice of Healing with Plant Medicines. Chelsea Green Publishing.

7. Grieve, Maud, 1971. A Modern Herbal: the Medicinal, Culinary, Cosmetic and Economic Properties, Cultivation and Folk-Lore of Herbs, Grasses, Fungi, Shrubs & Trees with their modern scientific uses. Dover Publications.

8. Kloss, Jethro, (1939). Back to Eden: the Classic Guide to Herbal Medicine, Natural Foods, and Home Remedies Since 1939. Lotus Press, 2004.

9. Rose, Jeanne, 1972. Herbs & Things. Penguin Books.

10. Shaouli, Rabbi Moshe Cohen, and Fisher, Rabbi Yaakov, 1999. Nature’s Wealth: Health and Healing Plants based on the teachings of the Rambam. Publisher unknown. (*very rare)

11. Tis Mal Crow, 2001. Native Plants, Native Healing: Traditional Muskagee Way. Native Voices Publishing.

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New Section: The Language of Flowers

image by I must be a Mermaid

Floriography, or the Language of Flowers, was a most enchanting practice of the Victorian times in which people communicated messages and conveyances through flowers and herbs. This language of flowers is possibly one of the most romantic gestures that ever existed. Writers, poets, artists, and everyday people employed the age-old symbolism of flowers and herbs, rooted in mythology and folklore, to express emotion and ideas. Today, it can be an ideal outlet for those of us who seek the deeper meaning behind things.

Though there are inevitably countless variances in flower meanings based on geography, language, and culture, most flowers’ meanings are remarkably consistent throughout the world. As there are cases of extreme discrepancy, (such as with Basil, which in some manuals meant true love and in others, hatred), when sending or receiving messages it would be wise to combine flowers/herbs whose meanings are more consistent with those that are more elusive. In my attempts to help preserve and perhaps even revive this charming practice, here is an index of some popular flowers and herbs and the meanings assigned to them by tradition and folklore.

Join my Facebook page to send messages to friends using the Language of Flowers.

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Creme de la Creme: Favorite French Films

Rainy summer days provide the perfect backdrop to cozy up and indulge in the sultry world of French cinema. In her lovely book Entre Nous: A woman’s Guide to Finding her Inner French Girl, Debra Ollivier suggests a few of her favorites, and I’ve taken the liberté of adding in some of my own. So make like the french women do; pour yourself some vintage wine, slip into something comfortable (but stylish too, of course) and let yourself be whisked away to a world of irresistable romance and intrigue with these classics:

Les Mistons via Play it for Me Sam

1. Les Mistons (the brats) directed by François Truffaut, 1957. Truffaut was a pioneer of French New Wave, a style of film that celebrates the little details in life, urging us to see beauty in the seemingly mundane. This is a short film about a group of boys who have a crush on a beautiful young woman and their boyish attempts at winning her attention by making mischief for her and her boyfriend.
2. Amelie directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001. Originally titled The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain, this popular Romantic comedy is full of whimsy and that same New Wave style of Les Mistons. It follows the childhood and early adulthood of the charming Amelie Poulain, the shy and often misunderstood waitress at a local cafe. When she hears about Princess Diana’s demise, she decides to devote her life to doing good and becomes an undercover match maker and guardian angel. Amidst all her caring for others, Amelie gathers the courage and the friendships that lead her own destiny, too.
3. Babette’s Feast directed by Isak Dinesen, 1987. Though this is a Danish film, I include it here because it tells the story of a renowned Parisian chef who moves to Denmark and becomes a housekeeper in the home of a strict Lutheran family. In a shocking meeting of two very different worlds, Babette is forced to tame her exotic cooking skills in exchange for the simple (and bland) ways of her puritanical employers. The twist is when Babette manages to convince her hosts to let her cook a full blown French meal for them, including “Potage à la Tortue” (turtle soup) and rum cake. Ultimately, both sides learn an unexpected lesson about life and living.

Babette’s Feast via Renew Theatres

4. Milou en Mai (Fools in May) directed by Louis Malle, 1990. Set against the backdrop of the revolutionary labor strikes of 1968, this film is about a wealthy family who find themselves reunited in the French countryside for a funeral. At first, the relatives argue about the inheritance while tensions flair for the revolution that threatens their bourgeois way of life. But since the whole country is on strike, the cadaver cannot be buried, and they are forced to remain together in the country. The film explores social and interpersonal issues as the family must face the changing times and reevaluate their priorities.
5. La double vie de Véronique (The Double Life of Veronique) directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1991. Some say that each of us has a twin soul in this world, and that can go for both romantic partners and friendships. This film explores twin flame concept and follows two women from different countries who share a mysterious bond that transcends time and space. It reminds us that “if we’re not living with a truly sensual appreciation of everything around us, we’re not really living at all.” (Debra Ollivier)
For more fabulous French cinema, see Time’s 100 best French films.

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