Tea Time

January 8, 2009


I’d like to highlight one my favorite herbs: Nettle.  Nettle is a nourishing herb that is high in iron calcium, magnesium and boron. It is know in herbal lore as a general tonic for improving overall vitality. When it is steeped, covered for 15-20 minutes it brews into a rich, green liquid. Delicious all day, warm or at room temp.

You probably know nettle; you’ve seen it growing in most green places in the US – river banks, along fences, damp places. If you’ve brushed against it hiking in the summer you’ll be looking for the bees who have stung you but it’s the tiny hairs covering the plant that sting and burn. Sounds terrible, it’s not all that bad and goes away in a short time. And if you know dock or jewel weed, that is the antidote and amazingly enough, those plants usually grow nearby, in companionship with nettles. I like to harvest the young leaves, clean, wash (with gloves on…) and parboil or steam the leaves. Very yummy greens!  Once they are cooked, the sting is deactivated.


This is jewelweed, just crush it and rub on stings:

There is a great deal of information about how nettles was used in days of yore. Steve Brill, the wildman has alot to add about nettles and the healthy properties. He’s fun to read. He says: “As food, this tonic is good for rebuilding the system of chronically ill people. “Nineteenth century literature is full of so-called constitutionally weak people, who usually die on the last page. In Russia, they were given freshly squeezed nettle juice—a tonic loaded with iron and other nutrients—for iron-deficiency anemia. This often worked.” He goes on to add that the benefits can be attributed to the great amounts of minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, silica, iodine, silicon, sodium, sulfur, as well as chlorophyll and tannin, vitamin C, beta-carotene and B vitamins, not to leave out high levels of easily absorbable amino acids and are 10% protein (that’s high for a veggie). 

I found some recipes for nettle wine!?!

I’ve got to tell my brother, Will about this.

Gather the young, growing tops and wash and drain them as soon as possible. Measure them without packing. Nettle wine is said to lack character and may be infused with another base ingredient to make it better. The first recipe below is for “pure” nettle wine. The others contain second ingredients.



3 qts nettle tops

3-1/2 lbs granulated sugar

7-1/2 pts water

1 lemon

1 orange

1 tsp yeast nutrient

wine yeast

Thinly peel the lemon and orange while bringing water to boil. Juice the lemon and orange. Place nettles, juice and lemon and orange peelings in in primary with sugar and yeast nutrient. Pour boiling water into primary and stir well to dissolve sugar. Cover with sanitized cloth and set aside to cool. When room temperature, add wine yeast. After five days of vigorous fermentation, strain liquid into secondary and attach airlock. When wine begins to clear, rack into clean secondary and refit airlock. After 3 months, rack into bottles. [Adapted from Steven A. Krause’s Wine from the Wilds]

But I digress. I was talking about tea.

Isabel from HerbsareSpecial.com    reminded me of the varied goodness of nettle leaves. “They are a source of histamine, which helps to reduce the symptoms in any allergic response, including hay fever, asthma and sinus. Also, serotonin, which acts as a neuro-transmitter to the central nervous system and is helpful for relieving stress, fear, nervousness, depression, insomnia, and eating disorders; and melatonin, an antioxidant sometimes referred to as an anti-ageing hormone , that may give relief from chronic fatigue syndrome, seasonal effect disorder, depression and sleeplessness…. Nettle is valuable for strengthening the adrenals. Eating nettles or drinking the tea has been a folk custom to make hair brighter, thicker and shinier and the skin clearer and healthier. A healing ointment is prepared by steeping cut nettle leaves in oil. Sip nettle tea for its benefits as a mild diuretic to relieve fluid retention, and to stimulate the lymphatic system. It is also known to eliminate bad breath. Nettles increase excretion of uric acid through the kidneys, making them an excellent remedy for gout and all other arthritic conditions. The herb is used to reduce blood sugar, and a tincture of the seed is found to raise thyroid function and reduce goiter.” 

I ask you, can you think of any excuse for nettles tea NOT to be part of your diet? I can’t. So Here is where you can get organic, dried nettles for tea, in case you’ve run out. Avena Botanicals has a nice selection of loose, organic herbs and tea utensils. And this Spring, put on some gloves and go harvest that pesky stinging plant. Clearly I’m weary of winter although it has just begun with a vengeance. A nice green cuppa nettles is just the thing for cabin fever. With a bit of  honey from my neighbor, Carol.


Dance of Shiva-update 1

January 6, 2009



I received my DVD from Andrey Lappa and Universal Yoga . This is a complex and amazing system. Although it is made of 4 + 4 basic arm movements, the creative ramifications are mind-blowing and mind-boggling. The CD has hours of theoretical information including diagrams of the permutations and combinations. Then there are looped practice sessions. After hanging on every word and instruction, I tried the first loop- just the arms. Day 1, 5 minutes, my shoulders were sore and I resolved to be gentler, softer and less interested in perfection in the future. Day 2, 5 minutes and I am being as gentle as I can and I decide that baby steps are the way to go. Day 3 and 4 I am so sore I can’t consider practicing at all and I have taken a few epsom salt soaks!

This is serious stuff. Considering I did very little and it was so intense for my body. I know I will become very strong, flexible and clear if I continue at it. But baby steps. So I’ve asked Havi, there is only one person who knows more than she does about this and its Andrey, and apparently he spends 6 months at a monastery in the Himalayas. AND she is one of only two practitioners in the world to have ever mastered the famed and dreaded Level 7. Check out her great video.

She says: — First couple days are the HARDEST by a lot. Everyone hurts the first few times and then it gets better. — Women about to get their period OR going through menopause tend to get a LOT more soreness. Sometimes good just to back off then. — H3 to H4 transition is the most painful. Especially if you’ve had shoulder issues, soften that up. You can try doing looser, more flowing movements and less exacting ones. — If that doesn’t help, take out #3 and substitute an easier position for you. As long as you’re making connections systematically between points, it’s okay if you change the shape until you recover. — Yes to epson salt baths.– Yes to stretching before after your practice. — Yes to slow practice with breathing.– Yes to massaging your arms after each round. Give yourself a bit of time to recover, and then take it slow. It’s definitely work, and this does happen and yeah, you’re working muscles that hardly ever get used, so also normal.

So there we have it.

Turn Down That Racket

January 5, 2009



“If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, turn that racket down”- that would have been my parents telling me to turn down my music when I was young and now it’s my turn. As a musician, my ears are my ultimate instrument. Everything I play I need to have my ears. I don’t go to loud concerts. If I ever am at a party with loud music, out come the earplugs, or, I just leave. I used to be very strict with my boys when they were little about using headphones. Now I annoy them by asking if they have ear plugs. Micah caused me great pride when he told me he wore earplugs at Lollapalooza last year. My husband and I had dinner at a restaurant over the weekend and, in the middle of dinner, a live performer set up his guitar and amps and started blasting us. We had to shout to be heard and finally took our tea and coffe to the far end of the restaurant so we could have a conversation. Just read an article backing up all my warnings to my kids:

Dave Simons,  in Songwriter 101, paints a grim picture although he does list numerous possible ways to avoid hurting our ears. The Hearing Foundation of Canada has reported that people are losing their hearing 20 years earlier than the past, blaming a society that gets noisier and noisier each year. He goes on to say that “earbuds, are the worst offenders, since the closer the source is to the eardrum, the greater the chance for sustaining permanent damage — 30 minutes per day is tops. (So potentially harmful are earbuds, in fact, that Apple, maker of the iPod, is reportedly working on a software-based solution that can provide automatic “recovery periods” during extended listening.)” Well, I am really glad that Apple is taking this on. Most people don’t realize the damage they are doing until it’s done. So, listen up folks!

Song Du Jour 1/3/09

January 3, 2009

Susan B

from CD art•i•facts

Clean Start

January 2, 2009



Mud bath anyone? Today I am reading a  compendium of easy recipes for healthy skin in the book, Organic Body Care Recipes: 175 Homemade Herbal Formulas for Glowing Skin and Vibrant Self , by Stephanie Tourles a prolific natural body care and wellness writer (7 books).  I’ve skimmed through 9 chapters covering an overview of our skin, hair, nails, a chapter on the ingredients, tools needed for prep and storage and application, then onto to face care, hair care, love potions and women only, and herbal comfort for stress, colds and sleep. There are scads of side bars with sometimes TMI…(like the fact that we have 650 sweat glands with one square inch of skin listed among a dozen other complex structures….), pages of resources and huge index cross-referencing natural ingredients and recipes …and 26 recipes for facial masks! This is THE book. She has covered it all. 

Here is my favorite and quick recipe for a moisturizing facial that I learned from Deb Soule, from Avena Botanicals (where you can buy many of the herbal ingredients used in Stephanie’s recipes). It is what I have done for years when traveling and Stephanie has a similar mask in her book. Simple, there is only one ingredient: HONEY. You can find honey at most restaurants, you know those little jars at breakfast? Or, you can carry little one-serving packets with you. Here’s what you do: wash your face and pat dry, gently spread a thin layer of honey over your face, don’t get it in your hair, it’s very messy, lie down for 10-15 minutes. Then before you rinse off, pat all over your face for a few minutes. It will be sticky, tacky and will feel great, too. Rinse, apply your organic skin care and off you go!