Monday, January 22, 2007

shaking the winter blues - naturally (excerpt from The Essential Herbal)

The Essential Herbal has a special feature each issue where we ask a question of our readers, and publish the response. In the Jan/Feb '06 issue of The Essential Herbal, we asked for "favorite ways to deal with the winter blues."
Seems like we could use a little of that right now, so here are some of the responses:

gI love to use Lemon Balm to shake the winter blahs. No matter how deep the snow, I can go out and dig down to the ground and there are always a few leaves still above the ground. Those leaves always reassure me that spring will come again and I pick them to wash my face with. It's always sure to shoo the blues - Susanna Reppert-Brill

gWhenever I am feeling the winter blues, I take advantage of the cold weather by relaxing in a hot, moisturizing bath. There is nothing more luxurious than a soothing soak. Here is a recipe for moisturizing bath melts that I love to use in the winter:
2 parts shea butter
1 part sweet almond oil
colorant (I like to use mica powder)
Essential oil or fragrance oil (about 2-3 drops of fragrance per oz. of butter/oil mix)
Melt the shea butter over low heat (a double boiler is great for this). Once melted, slowly add the sweet almond oil. Mix well.
Remove from heat and cool slightly. Not too much, it should still stay in liquid form.
Add a small amount of colorant and mix well. Add more color if desired. Add fragrance and mix well. Pour into molds. I like to use candy molds for this, but you can use ice cube trays.
Cool in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. At htis point they are ready to use. Just pop them out of the molds. Dissolve the melts in running water and enjoy!
Sam Corwin,

gThough I love Spring most of all, I don't really mind winter that much as I've always made sure to have a "peeping garden" underneath a window on the south side of our home. Days I cannot get out, I'm there with my nose stuck on the window pane, sipping herbal tea and peeping away to see what might be showing some signs of spring. Here in Roanoke, my little garden includes pansies, violas, violets, crocus, early daffodils, periwinkle, spirea, rosemary, boxwood, lavender, and lambs ear. There's an herb garden sign, a bird bath and some pretty rock, too. Now if the snow has covered my peeping garden, my "chase away the blues time" will be spent in my rocking chair with my herbal tea and rug hooking in my "studio" (that's fancy for my sewing/craft room. Even if the sun is not shining, the grow lights over the baker's rack holding my house plants almost make it seem sunny. Jean, Roanoke VA

gI can't think ov anything better than baking a fresh loaf of my Grandma's Cottage Cheese Dilly Bread to kick the winter blues (or any blues). It seems that food - especially bread - is so comforting. A pot of homemade soup with this bread is unbelievable! I just made it recently with some freshly dried dillseed from our garden.
Cottage Cheese Dilly Bread
2 cups cottage cheese - warmed
4 T sugar
2 T grated onion
2 T butter
2 tsp dillseed
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
2 packages dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
5 cups (or more) flour (I use a blend of freshly ground whole wheat and organic white)
Mix yeast and warm water. Mix first 8 ingredients well with a mixer and add yeast mixture. Begin adding flour and knead. Cover and let rise until doubled. Punch down and divide into pans. Don't overfill pans - this bread rises more while baking.
Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes - less for smaller pans.
Marsha Bauer

and one last one for this installment....

gI keep away the winter blues by planning next year's garden and projects. Every year I try to do one new thing in the garden... add a fence, plant blueberries, add an herb bed, etc. All year long I go through my garden books and tear out the pictures I like, and tuck them away in a folder, waiting to be pulled out for planning during the cold winter months. This year I want to "scrapbook" next year's garden with pictures of outbuildings I want, yard art, and flowers/herbs to plant. I am going to have before and after pictures.
Karen Creel

I'll post some more tomorrow.

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