Thursday, March 22, 2012

Springtime welcomes the light

This table cloth is linen with a gorgeous cross stitched border.
  I found it at Value Village! Can you believe that?
  I think I splurged on it - paying about $5.
There is one hole about the size of a dime in it,
but otherwise its in great condition!

Spring is here.  I know this because the Equinox has passed.  It was expected of course, but somehow not anticipated.  It managed to sneak up on me in total surprise.  No bonfire marked it, mostly due to scheduling.  But also in this weird weird spring where my father in Connecticut has 80 degree days while we have twenty below zero days...  The mid way seasonal balancing shift somehow doesn't feel to be happening.  I notice the sun though.  It is light at home of an evening now.  I hadn't noticed it really and truly until this week - maybe because the last few weeks I havent been getting home till 11 at the earliest, what with the darlin' man's play. 

Anyway, I did quietly celebrate the coming of spring, for myself.  I did a facial steam last night.  It was amazing.  Last summer I gatherered and dried all sorts of herbs, some for medicinal purposes primarily, and some specifically for facials.  I had grand plans of frequent steams, knowing how good they are in the depths of winter.  And you know what?  last night was my second one this year.  But I'm convinced.  This needs to be a regular thing! 
Last summer's wildcrafted herbs on a shelf in my kitchen.
Besides which, facial steams are really one of the easiest things in the world. All you need is a bowl (or pot or pan), herbs (they don't have to be your own wildcrafted either! Herbs out of a tea bag or from the grocery store or healthfood store will do great too!), boiling water, and a towel or cloth to make a tent over your head and the bowl.
The mix of herbs I used was Yarrow, coltsfoot, and pineapple weed (a wild cousin to chamomile, I generally call it chamomile as I don't really like the name pineapple weed).  After mixing it together, on first smell I realized that this is basically the exact same mix I make up for the Darlin' Man for tea when he's getting sick, or for myself if I've gotten sick.  Preventative herbal medicine is something I'm on top of for him, but I rarely do it for myself until I'm down and out cant get out of bed sick.  Hmmm.  Maybe that's another thing I should work on!

Medicinally, I use Yarrow for colds and fevers.  Coltsfoot is good for coughs and lung congestion and asthma - its frequently smoked for lung ailments, though I'm not sure I would ever suggest that.  And Chamomile is just wonderful and soothing and a tonic.  Breathing in the steam, I felt the cough that's been starting to tickle my lungs easing up, and my sinuses felt like they were taking the most luxurious bath in the world! 

So why did I use these particular herbs for a facial steam, if they're such great internal medicine?
Well, yarrow is reccomended as a steam for oily and/or blemished skin.
Mine is definately oily.
Chamomile is just lovely and wonderful.
As for coltsfoot, Culpeper* says the "powder of the roots taketh away all spots and blemishes of the skin.  It were well if gentlewomen would keep this root preserved to help their poor neighbors." (qtd in Schofeild, Janice. "Discovering Wild Plants: Alaska, Western Canada, The Northwest." 195-196)

I also baked a pie last night:
Love People.  Cook them tasty food.  (bumpersticker from Penzey's Spices).

A few days ago, I made myself a cherry gallette.  Out of a jar of cherries that I had canned last summer when they were a good price at the store.  I find that I adore pie from home-canned cherries.
But the real triumph was my crust.  My pie crusts have somehow been rather blase of late.  Perfectly functional, but not the amazing flaky goodness they ought to be.  Now, I've been making pie crusts since I was a fairly young girl.  As a teenager, my mother and I would have pie baking contests in apple season ~both using the same recipe for filling and crust~ and my crusts eventually won out.  But the last year or so, they just havent' been there.  I think I was over mixing the butter.  At any rate, the galette crust was divine.  I felt vindicated in my sense of being a superior pie maker.  And this one for the birthday apple pie was good too.

The Darlin' Man has a pick up rehearsal tonight, and it is also the director's birthday, so I made a pie.  I'm quite pleased with the way the overlapping stars on the top crust turned out.  I used a star cookie cutter, and just cut them out of the rolled-out top pie crust, and then overlapped them over the fruit. 


Star Pie.

*Culpeper was a 17th century English botanist, herbalist, physician, and astrologer.  His "Herbal" is much quoted and has some good information.  But Gerard, his near- contemporary, is much more reliable, thorough, and holistically applicable.  Culpeper didn't like women much. 

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