Monday, March 27, 2006

The Rest of the Trip - Odds and Ends.

We were on the 19th floor, but went up to the 32nd floor where we could go out on the roof. The rooftop has planters, lovely built in benches, and nice sturdy guard rails. From the roof, the East river is right "over there", and there are ships docked on this side - New Jersey on the other. It was a bit windy up there, but we stayed a while to look at the various landmarks that were visible, and the tiny little cars on the roof of the gray building, and the equally tiny people on the streets below. I found it particularly funny to find some juicy green chickweed happily growing in one of the planters on the roof, and some daylilies a couple inches out of the ground in another. Laura got a kick out of watching me snuffle around the plants and the ground in the park. There were some dry tree leaves unlike any I'd seen before, but the trees don't have markers - darn it.
Then there was the flower shop. We were walking past this window, and it just stopped me in my tracks. If you look at the pink and yellow spray in the picture, you'll see what I mean. I was absolutely certain that they were made of wood and painted, until we noticed that you could see the seeds inside of a few near the top that are open a bit.
Finally, one of the other memorable things we did was dinner at Strada on 57th. It was just a couple of short blocks, and the food was scrumptious! I had cappelini with shrimp and a yummy cauliflower soup. Laura had lobster ravioli, and I can't remember what Rob and Molly had. For dessert, we all had cappuchino and shared a slice of chocolate mousse cake and another of tiramisu. Sigh.... delicious.
The train was late again bringing us home. I watched out the windows, seeing that the mullein is healthy and prevalent this year, and there are huge patches of tiger lily out there. On the way there, we even passed a "mud sale" held in the neighboring countryside to benefit the small town volunteer fire companies.
It was a wonderful weekend, and I'm refreshed - ready to tackle the upcoming deadline and May/June issue.

4 Seasons of Woman

Spring , Summer, Fall, and Winter. These sculptures hold a giant ring above their heads, and are in the center of a large plaza, surrounded by 4 small restaurants with lots of outdoor seating. Each sculpture is about 15 feet tall. It is breathtaking.

Did I mention that I thoroughly enjoyed all the artwork in the streets?

I think Winter was my favorite because of the mystery enfolded in her robes.

Weekend in NYC - Part One

We had a great weekend walking all over Manhattan. Molly and I visited with our friends Laura and Rob. Our train was very late getting in, so we missed the possibility of seeing Avenue Q, but it really wasn't a big deal.
Laura took us on a walking tour for a good part of Saturday. If I haven't mentioned my Crocs, let me tell you right now that they saved the day. Molly and I both wore them, and not being accustomed to walking 30 or 40 blocks in a given day, they made quite a difference. At the same time, it was a real wake-up that I am getting entirely too sedentary.
Anyhow, we started with brunch, and then headed out visit some thrift shops, etc. The first place we stopped was Backwoods. They had some great gauzy beaded mirrored '70's Indian stuff at very nice prices. The jacket I'm wearing below (standing in the fountain) came from that shop. I was really excited to see the jackets, because we sold them at our old shop, and they are so comfy and colorful. The price was also around the same as we used to get them wholesale! Molly found some things she loved, too.
From there, we headed across Central Park to the 70's and 80's where we found several thrift shops. They had some very cool stuff, but the prices gave me sticker shock. For instance, used shoes were between $20 and $40. Naturally, Molly found a pair of jeans that she fell in love with - and they were very unusual.
These pictures were all taken in Central Park. I took lots of photos of the trees, etc... but these are my favorites. The top picture is a gorgeous bronze sculpture of Alice in Wonderland.
The next shot is Molly and Laura under a budding tree. Things were just beginning to come to life.
Then Laura and I stood under this guy right at the entrace at Columbus Circle. I really loved all the sculpture and statuary in the park, and the old ornate gates and such. Lastly, we went to the lake in the park. I took the picture across the lake, which looked so interesting because to me it could be either Spring OR Fall, because the colors are so similar.
Walking along 5th Avenue, there were many areas that still had the greens stuck in window boxes and planters from the holiday season. We gather some dried juniper berries, and I rolled them in my fingers from time to time to smell that fresh, juicy fragrance. It wasn't quite as good as the coffee we stopped for mid-afternoon, but it was very refreshing. There's more to come... Blogger doesn't seem to like more than 4 pictures at a time.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Lancaster Farmer's Market

The Farmer's Market in the city of Lancaster is the longest continuously operating inland farmers market in the country. Ever since I was a child, the market has been filled with the freshest fruits, vegetables, meats, and fish, along with flowers for the table and baked goods that just cannot be described. As times have changed and time itself is less available, delis have popped up offering delectable pasta salads and pre-cooked meals that make your mouth water just thinking about them. In case you can't tell, I've been having a blast going all over the county this spring helping my sister find wholesale outlets for her Lancaster County Soaps. Even though this area has been my home nearly my whole life, it never ceases to be a joy and a pleasure to me. The availability of fresh foods used to be something I took for granted until I traveled a bit and found that this is not the norm.We are very fortunate here. There are also some booths with jellies and jams, coffees and teas, dips, and OH MY the candies, hot soft pretzels, hotdogs, home made breads, baklava. It can be a very dangerous place to the uninitiated. One of the very first rules is to walk all of the aisles before buying. The prices can be quite a bit different from aisle to aisle - depending on how close to an entrance the booth is. Many of the purchases come from tourists on buses, so some of the vendors price accordingly.It is a favorite place to take visitors from out of the area- especially because it gives me an excuse, but also it is great fun for my daughter and me on easygoing Saturday mornings. The surrounding area of the city is full of little shops with interesting items and crafts. One of them, the Lancaster County Heritage Museum has some incredible redware. And the very best greeting cards can be purchased at Zanzibar, and Molly wouldn't consider a trip to town complete without stopping for brunch at Aroma Borealis. These pictures were all taken strolling through market today. Can't wait to try the newest find - mini mangoes... They sure sound good. We'll have to see!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Tanger Arboretum is behind Wheatland, the Lancaster home of James Buchanan and the adjacent Lancaster County Historical Association. At the arboretum, there are many unusual trees, not often seen in this area. Visiting in very late fall or early spring will reward one with unusual cones or pods.
I love wandering under the trees and seeing conifers that I’ve not seen before, and the very odd deciduous trees that have grown very large over the years. Last year several of us did a weed walk through the neighborhood in late April and were amazed with the specimens and the German four square garden behind the presidential residence.Here are a few shots I took the other day….
There is the Atlas Cedar which is enormous, and then a Beech tree with branches that are curly. And then, a weeping beech. There is an entire grove of different beech trees, and I look forward to arriving during just the right time to collect and taste beechnuts from these trees. The pods are very attractive.
Now if I can accomplish that in the fall, and then get out to the Environmental Center in the spring to help with the maple syrup… gather bayberries in the winter… Trees are just as interesting as smaller herbs.
The grounds of Wheatland and the Tanger Arboretum are both under-utilized areas that are filled with enough to keep a plant lover busy for a good long time. Last year we were stunned to find Marsh Marigolds and a long hedge of a fragrant flowering shrub that we still haven't identified. If you are in the area, it's worth your while to check it out.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Quilts in the Country

There are so many things I take for granted on a daily basis, living here in PA Dutch Country. As the editor of The Essential Herbal, rarely does a month go by that I don't hear how lucky I am to be in an area surrounded by people interested and involved in herbs. That's very true. Back in the early 90's when the idea to put together a state herb association came up, there were many, many herb businesses willing to drive to get together and share ideas and expertise. Most of them still exist.

Even more so though is the fortune of being around the crafts people here in Lancaster County!
We went out to deliver an order of soap into the tourist area of the county today, and stopped to see an old friend Sylvia Petersheim in Smoketown. Sylvia has a quilt shop, and a fabric shop. Her stuff is magnificent. These quilts were *some* of the ones hanging outside today. There are stacks and stacks of them inside the shop. She has a very keen eye for coordinating fabrics for a quilt top.
In addition to the quilts and the fabrics, her husband Omar cares for the grounds of their home, and they are stunning. There is a creek running through the back yard, and the mature landscaping is breath-taking. Actually, I've not been there when things are fully green and blooming, so I can only imagine.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Philadelphia Flower Show

Today I represented The Essential Herbal with at the Garden Writers' Breakfast meeting with Maureen Rogers of Herbal Connection. This allowed us on to the floor to see the displays before the doors opened. Being short, that was very cool.
The lighting was pretty tough for me to work with - as you can see with the top picture. The next one, I really loved. This is a very small part of the "Spring has Sprung" display by Haddonfield. They used flex duct, and tons of colorful slinkies to show off their gorgeous arrangements. This particular "bouquet" would be about 5' tall.
This was the display at the booth for Cramer's Posy Patch. I love their display, the way the cover the ceiling with the statice, larkspur, celosia, etc. It is so pretty. Lots of "sticks", too, like pussy willow and the like.
This table set for a fairy tea party was but a tiny portion of the very large display that won a prize, by Lamsback. The full display included gigantic bugs - a spider and a dragonfly come to mind - made of flowers, with big red floral eyes. There was a 5 or 6 foot fairy on the hillside made of flowers, looking over the pond in the middle of this display. It was a joy to look at.
These hanging baskets are an exotic plant called Nepenthes. The reddish pouches grow down under the planters and are approximately 6" in length. It appears that they would gather water for the plant. Lovely.
This little imp has just caught a fish from the pond. I'd like to point out that the price is over $11,000. Really nice work, and the expression is wonderful.
There were orchids everywhere. I would have liked a few more spring flowers, but the orchids really were lovely. They were in every color of the rainbow and in sizes ranging from teensy to dinner plate. It made up for missing the fragrant spring bulbs.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Spring Tonic

In the old days people would look forward to a spring tonic to boost the indigestion after a winter of eating foods from the winter larder, and to get the "juices running". Tonics are bitters, which stimulate the liver to porduce bile to help the body digest fats and improve the digestive process.

SPRING TONIC (from Tonics by Robert A. Barnett)

1/2 cup dried Sarsaparilla root
1/2 cup dried Burdock root
2 Tbsp. dried Dandelion root
2 Tbsp. dried Orange peel
8 whole Cardamom pods, cracked open
1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon
1 2" piece fresh Ginger, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup Honey
1 1/2 cup fresh Lemon juice
4 cups Apple Cider
1/2 tsp freshly ground Pepper
16 oz. Seltzer or other carbonated water (optional)

Bring 5 cups water to boil in a covered saucepan. Meanwhile combine the Sarsaparilla root, Burdock root, Dandelion root, Orange peel, Cardamom pods and Cinnamon in a heat-proof bowl. Pour on the boiling water, stir, and leave to steep for 15-20 minutes.
Combine the Ginger, 1/2 c Lemon juice, and the Honey in a blender. Process until smooth. Add the remaining Lemon juice and the Pepper, and blend until well combined, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the blender with a rubber spatula.
When the root mixture is ready, strain it through a fine sieve, pressing with the back of a spoon to extract all of the flavorful tea. Discard the solids. Add 1 cup of this tea to the blender and whirl just to combine. Scrape the contents of the blender into a large pitcher. Stir in the remaining tea and the apple cider.
Chill well. Serve over ice, adding the seltzer for a lighter drink.
This can be frozen for up to 3 months or keeps in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Use a blender to reincorporate the materials.
If using fresh roots of Sarsaparilla, Burdock, or Dandelion, double the amount.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

When (Nursing) Mommy Gets Sick

Since there is so much going around right now, it seemed like a good time to roll out this excerpt from the Mar/Apr '05 issue of The Essential Herbal from Pam Ferry. Her link is listed at the end of the article.

When Mommy Gets Sick

You are a mother, with a young, nursing child, who becomes ill. What do you do? Do you continue breastfeeding, or do you stop? First, any anger, or disappointment you may feel, is normal and to beexpected; you don't have the time or energy to be sick. All you want to do is be able to take care of your baby and be able to get through the day, with a minimum of fuss, while getting some things (like laundry) accomplished. If you have any kind of support, now is the time to ask for help. You do NOT want to use the strength you have doing all the laundry and dishes, and possibly taking care of other children without help. The most important answer is yes, you can breastfeed your child. Towards the end of pregnancy the fetus has received immunity from the mother; the baby is therefore, born with the mother's immunities. Breastfed infants acquire additional antibodies to influenza, mumps, chickenpox, and other viruses either through mom's previous exposure or immunization (mom's). This passive immunity lasts from 3 to 6 months and protects the child from childhood diseases. Except for herpetic lesions, HIV positive and in unusual cases (up to your care provider) chicken pox and hepatitis, you CAN and SHOULD breastfeed your child. Things like frequent hand washing and keeping the child limited to outside contaminants (like everyone in the neighborhood, that wants to kiss the cute baby!!), will help prevent illness.
The question of what herbs are best to take while sick and nursing is a valid one. Although it is advised by lactation experts not to take any unnecessary medication while nursing, including herbal medications, there are herbs that are safe for both mother and infant.
First, you want sufficient milk production for which there are common herbs to use which include: Simple teas or infusions of nourishing herbs such as Comfrey, Raspberry leaf, Nettles, Alfalfa, or Red Clover and Fenugreek encourage a plentiful supply of breast milk and a relaxed, healthy mother. These mineral rich herbs also protect you from mineral loss during the stress of nursing and infant care. Rotate, using one for a week, to derive the unique benefits that each offers.
Second, you want to increase the vitamins and minerals that are normally depleted during viral illness. Vitamins C (to fight inflammation and infections) and A (for eyes, and cell health) can be obtained from elderberries (my personal favorite), dandelion leaves, watercress, parsley, cayenne and comfrey, to name a few of the commonly used herbs. Comfrey and parsley also provides you with a B complex (to nourish nerves and provide energy).
Another commonly depleted nutrient while ill, is potassium (depleted by excessive urination or perspiration, vomiting, diarrhea); you can supplement this mineral by taking comfrey, watercress, dandelion, parsley and mints. For nausea, drink Fennel/Barley Water. A combination of the two herbs not only increases the breast milk, but eases after pains and settles the digestion of mom and babe.
Prepare barley water by soaking ½ cup of pearled (regular) barley in 3 cups cold water overnight or by boiling for 25 minutes. Strain out the barley and add to soup or discard. Heat a cup or two of the barley water to boiling as needed, store the rest in the refrigerator. Pour 1 cup boiling barley water over 1 tsp. Fennel seeds and steep for no longer than 30 minutes.
And of course, always remember to increase your intake of water.
So, the way a breastfeeding mom can survive the flu is to have plenty of nourishing herbal teas on hand, a quiet room where you and your nursing infant can both remain lying down as much as possible (with all needed baby supplies within reaching distance), and hopefully a loving partner to bring you soup, snacks or other “feel good” foods.
Stay well!!

Pam Ferry, RN, Herbalist, Doula (DONA) and Lactation Educator
Mother’s Circle and Healing Herbals

editor's note: Comfrey is currently frowned on for internal use by the FDA.