Herb of the Year for 2020: Blackberries, raspberries, and their cousins (Rubus ssp.) Named by the International Herb Association
Flower of the Month for February: Violet: Faithfulness, Wisdom and Hope
February is Heart-Healthy Month, Black History Month
February Feature: Happy Birthday, Laura!
February 7: The birthday of Laura Ingalls Wilder, who, with her daughter Rose, co-authored the beloved Little House books.
February 10: National “Have a Brownie” Day. Fannie Farmer, the First Lady of American Cookery, published the first written recipe for brownies in 1896.
February 14: Valentine’s Day, voted the Sweetest Day of the Year by Chocolate Lovers Everywhere.
February 17: Random Acts of Kindness Day.
February 22: George Washington’s birthday.
February 25: Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday. What’s behind the celebrations in New Orleans?
February 28: National Chocolate Soufflé Day.
February 29. Ann Lee, founder of the Shaker faith, was born in England on this day in 1736. The Shakers were important commercial providers of herbs through most of the nineteenth century.
The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.—Laura Ingalls Wilder
A Garden of Used-to-Be
Laura Ingalls was born in Pepin, Wisconsin on February 7, 1867. She spent her girlhood moving with her family to Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, and Dakota Territory, where they finally settled.
Like many other pioneer women, Laura’s mother, Caroline Ingalls, had the task of making a home wherever the family lived. Pioneer women always took seeds and “starts” (plant divisions) from one home to another, for they could not expect to find what they needed where they settled. Gardens were vital to survival, producing not only vegetables for the table but the medicinal herbs that women used to treat the family’s common ailments and sweeten their lives with fragrance and flavor.
A pioneer garden—a “Garden of Used-to-Be,” as Laura once called it—can be an interesting theme garden. If you’d like to include a pioneer corner in your herb garden, consider these plants:
- Medicinal herbs: thyme, lavender, yarrow, horehound, feverfew, echinacea, peppermint, wormwood, mullein, clover, Queen Anne’s lace
- Tea herbs: mint, beebalm, lemon balm, catnip, red clover
- Culinary herbs: sage, thyme, dill, horseradish, mustard, rosemary
- Housekeeping herbs: mint (pesticide), lavender and rosemary (disinfectant), southernwood and tansy (to repel fleas, moths)
Here’s an easy herb project that Caroline Ingalls might have asked her daughters to make to freshen drawers and trunks and as simple gifts for friends and neighbors.
Drawer Freshener and Moth Repellent
Blend together some or all of the following dried herbs, in equal amounts: wormwood, tansy, lavender, thyme, rosemary, mint. Cut six-inch squares of loose-weave fabric. Lay wrong-side up and place 2-3 tablespoons of dried herbs in the center. Gather up the edges and tie securely with a pretty ribbon.
For more reading: Susan’s novel, A Wilder Rose, about Laura and her daughter, Rose, and the writing of the Little House books during the hard times of the Dustbowl and the Great Depression.
We know that you know how to celebrate Valentine’s Day. But here is an interesting gender fact to ponder. During the year, women purchase 75% of the chocolate, but during the days before Valentine’s Day, 75% of the chocolate purchases are made by men. Consider this, too: we’re not the first civilization to value chocolate—and of course, chocolate is an herb, too!
Treat headaches with herbs. You’re shopping, traveling, wrapping, cooking—and whoomf! a headache happens. For ordinary headaches caused by the stresses and strains of daily life, a calming cup of herbal tea may be all you need to restore your equilibrium. Use these dried headache herbs, brewed with 1 cup boiling water and sweetened with honey:
- Lavender, lemon balm, meadowsweet, ½ teaspoon each
- Sage, rosemary, mint, ½ teaspoon each
- Rosemary, marjoram, peppermint, ½ teaspoon each
A cool lavender compress for the temples and a quiet rest in a dark room may also give you the relief you need.
To learn what kind of dishes the Mother of Our Country put on the table for the Father of Our Country, take a look at Martha Washington’s famous cookbook, adapted to modern techniques and measures by food historian Marie Kimball, available once again after being long out of print. A wonderful gift for a history buff!
You know what to do on Chocolate Souffle Day, don’t you? If you don’t have a clue, check out Janet Rudolph’s Dying for Chocolate blog. She’ll help you out.
Susan’s writing organization, the Story Circle Network, is offering a women-only writing weekend in Denver CO. Led by Kathleen Adams, this exciting, inspiring program could boost your writing practice, whether you’re keeping a journal, writing a memoir, or venturing into fiction. Details here.
Find out what Susan is up to these days by visiting her blog, Lifescapes. There’s always something interesting going on in the Texas Hill Country. On her “other” blog, BookScapes, she posts book reviews, bookish thoughts, and notes on the fast-changing world of books