Red Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum) compared to Heal All (Prunella vulgaris)

Red Dead Nettle

Red Dead Nettle

The plant on the bottom front of the pile in the photo below is from my yard and is called Red Dead Nettle, like the plant in the photo above.

The first time I saw this plant in my yard I became curious.  Was I seeing the little plant that is so great for healing called “Heal All”?  I looked up Heal all online and could see this little plant was obviously different . . . but still looked similar in my opinion.  Plants can be so difficult to identify without a name to use for looking it up!!  Finally I searched Heal All look alikes, and there was my little plant!

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Red Dead Nettle is my little plant’s name.  Yay!  I found out what the plant was!!!  –Unless you have tried to figure out what plants are when you or your friends don’t know, you have no idea how difficult it can be, so I was thrilled to have found out this plant’s name so easily–  Now I could look up more about the plant in my yard.  Is it edible?  Is it medicinal?  Turns out it is both.

Red Dead Nettle is not a true nettle and does not sting.  That is why it is called “Dead nettle.”  Red Dead Nettle is a member of the mint family.  Some of the other common names for Red Dead Nettle are Purple Dead Nettle, Lavender Dead Nettle, Purple Archangel, and Velikdenche  (according to Wikipedia).

Heal All

Below are two photos of Heal All.  Another common name for Heal All is Self Heal.  Heal All is also a member of the mint family.  Heal All is both edible and medicinal.

When we were camping a couple summers ago, one of our party got a nasty infection under her big toenail when she was injured.  Her toe was swelling and very painful.  We made a poultice of Plantain (a drawing herb which brings the infection to the surface of the skin) and Heal All (good for any healing).  She said the poultice stung like the dickens but she kept it on for awhile.  By morning, the infection had come to the surface and could be cleaned out.  One more application a couple days later, when her toe began swelling again, completed the cure!

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Thank goodness for these gorgeous plants that voluntarily appear for our benefit!  Plants are such a God given gift!

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Glorious Dandelion!

I don’t believe I’ve ever seen as gorgeous a dandelion as this one right here. A volunteer in my small raised garden I’m grateful this enormous dandelion showed up. Hopefully the seeds of this huge plant will spread all over my garden, Providing me with lots of super nutritious greens.

There are many dandelion look-alikes. According to what I’ve read, there are no poisonous look-alikes, but it’s good to know when you have the real thing. Some of the look-alikes here in Oregon, called cats ears, are very bitter. 

Probably the best way to tell a true dandelion is to look at the flower and it’s stem. The stem will be hollow with white milky substance oozing out when it is broken. There will be only one flower to a single stem and the stem of a true dandelion does not branch as many look-alikes do.

Dandelion flowers are edible as well as the leaves and the roots. Some people roast the roots and make a hot drink out of the ground roasted roots.  I personally have only tried the flowers and the leaves. 

I find the flowers very pleasant to eat raw and I put the leaves in my smoothies. I have read that these are some of the most nutritious greens on the planet.

I simply love how I can walk into my yard and find wonderful things to eat without having to do any work at all!

Spring Greens

I wonder . . . when our ancestors spoke about spring greens, did they mean these?


No need to wait for your garden to come up when you have plantain, clover, dandelions, and heal all look alike: Purple Deadnettle – Lamium purpurem (also edible).  Also in this bunch are a few greens I kept covered with a sheet over the winter to keep them from dying: celery tops, parsley, beet greens, and thyme.

These will be thrown into my smoothie this morning, to which I will add wild blueberries from the freezer section of the grocery store, frozen strawberries, frozed sweet cherries, banana, water, and a can of coconut milk. Yummy!

This combination will probably fill my blender and produce four large glasses of smoothie which I will save in the refrigerator until I drink them, one at a time. Probably will last me a couple days at least.

And the greatest thing is the wild greens have much more nutrition than your average garden greens!  Most people don’t realize that dandelions are one of the most, if not the most nutritious green vegetable there is!!  The yellow flowers are edible too, as well as the root can be used for roasted root tea (haven’t tried that yet though).

Planned workshops have passed. If you are interested in a workshop, please communicate with me. There is a workshop questionnaire on the workshop page.

Wet Felting Workshop — Passed

I love felting and I love teaching others to felt!  It is very relaxing and fun!  I am offering several workshops as the holidays approach.

Each participant will make a personally designed super soft merino and silk scarf or wrap.  I provide all the materials as part of the workshop fee.

Who can register:

Participants must be 16 years or older, unless special permission is given.  A parent and younger child, (12 or older) could work together on one scarf as a single participant.

Cost:

Cost is $75 per participant at least 24 hours ahead of class start time.  I must have at least  one participant registered 24 hours in advance to run the class.

Due to space constraints, each workshop is limited to four participants.  Preregistration is encouraged to secure your place.  There are no refunds, but I can get you into a different class if, for a good reason, you cannot make the one you registered for.

What to bring:

Participants must bring their own meals and snacks.

Class dates and times are:

Monday  Nov. 28, 2016     11 am – 6 pm or until finished.

Monday  Dec. 5, 2016     11 am – 6 pm or until finished.

Thursday Dec. 8, 2016   11am – 6pm or until finished.

Saturday  Dec. 10, 2016     11 am – 6 pm or until finished.

Place:

Workshops will be held in my home 1717 Sonya Dr. SE Salem, OR 97317.  You may call or text to register at 407-766-2588, or email me at micheleballantynedesigns@gmail.com  Please give me your name, and the name of any other participants, and the date of the workshop you would like to attend.  After registering and I have let you know there is an opening for you in the workshop, you may drop your registration fees off at my home.  Call to make sure I am home.  I take cash and checks only at this time.

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Friction Fire Workshop — Passed

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Fire in my earth oven in my spiral cabin in the Cascades.

Fire is a blessing and a wonderful friend.  Learning to make friction fire really gets you in touch with fire and creates a relationship between you and fire you may never have felt before.  I love to teach others to make fire in this ancient way.

I will provide the materials for you to make your own friction fire kit of cedar wood.  I have knives I can loan you to use or you can bring your own non folding sheath knife good for carving.  To carve a kit and make fire takes humility, skill and coordination, and seldom comes easily.  I allow many hours for a workshop because people’s abilities vary widely.  I cannot guarantee that YOU will make fire at this workshop, but I can let you come to future workshops until you make fire yourself.  We will discuss knife safety and take every precaution to keep everyone safe.

Once you know fire in this way, what a great gift to pass on to your family and friends.

Who can register:

Participants must be 16 years or older unless accompanied by a parent to assist them.  Participants must use knife safety rules at all times.  Participants (and their parents if a minor) must realize that though all precautions are taken to keep people safe, injuries can occur and by attending this class you will not hold me or my family liable for your injury.  Each participant or parent of participant must sign a release of liability and take responsibility for their own safety.

Cost:

Cost for this 7 hour workshop is $75 per participant at least 24 hours in advance.  I must have at least one participant registered 24 hours in advance to run the workshop.

What to bring:

Participants must bring their own meals and snacks.

Participants must dress for the temperature outside as we will be working under cover outdoors.

Class Dates and Times:

Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016   11am-6pm

Monday, Dec. 12, 2016  11am-6pm

Place:

Workshops will be held at my home 1717 Sonya Dr. SE Salem, OR 97317. You may call or text to register at 407-766-2588, or email me at micheleballantynedesigns@gmail.com Please give me your name, and the name of any other participants, and the date of the workshop you would like to attend. After registering and I have let you know there is an opening for you in the workshop, you may drop your registration fees off at my home. Call to make sure I am home. I take cash and checks only at this time.

My Amazing Crew of Young Men!

 Digging out a bush is hard work! With my health so poor that exertion makes me winded and my heart race, having a crew of young men is an amazing thing.
When my two young grandchildren begged to stay with me for a couple days, I warned them I would put them to work. They eagerly agreed so today we are creating a space for the next vegetable herb garden.

I am very proud of them. I give them breaks every hour to play games for 30 minutes, and then we get back to work. We will have ice cream treats when we’re finished.

Update: after trying to pull the stump out with the truck, and having the rope break, my grandson put his back against the wall and pushed with his feet and knocked the stump loose. It was only a matter of minutes until they had pulled it completely out.

Camouflage Capture The Flag In the Dark Game

Who is that having so much fun?
You won’t see me tonight!

When I had a bunch of homeschool families over to play capture the flag in the dark, trackerschool style, I had fun demonstrating to the kids and adults how to use mud and oily charcoal to camouflage yourself for the game we were about to play.  ONE of the most fun parts of the night, for me, was the look on people’s faces when I dipped my hand into the coconut oil/charcoal mix and rubbed it across my face and shirt!  I should have gotten it in my hair too, that would have been even better.  I have to say, my face felt silky soft and smooth after I washed this mix off!

The BEST part of the night was, however, when one of the kids, a beaming boy of about 6, came up to me afterwards as we were cleaning up, and with a face as happy and shining as the sun, exclaimed to me with the utmost joy, his escapades of the evening!  His friend, who was about his same age, echoed every point, as he stood by adding his two cents when he could get a word in edgewise!  Unforgettable!

This past couple months, I was privileged to teach a group of 8 to 12 year olds at our homeschool group, Life Academy of Salem.  We had 9 enthusiastic students who loved learning to make fire with friction; a debris hut; cordage; a deadfall trap and a snare; hunting practice with bows and arrows (and a little pink stuffed bunny); making bowls with raku clay (and firing them in a campfire); awareness games; and hearing stories about my teacher, Tom Brown Jr. and his best friend Rick, as they learned from their mentor, an Apache Scout named Stalking Wolf.

I hope I get to share these fun skills, and more, again next school year!

Kids and Bows and Arrows!

In 2010 the kids and I attended Rick Berry’s 4 Element Earth Education class in Northern  California, and had a great time.  Rick is one of the original people in charge of Coyote Tracks, an appendage of Tom Brown Jr.’s Trackerschool, in New Jersey.   One of the activities the kids liked best was hunting each other with little “quickie bows” Rick made for them out of branches and other items (see above photos).  The great thing about the bows he made was that they were kid safe because they had spongy rubber balls on the tips of the arrows for safety, in case the kids actually hit one another.

In the homeschool class I have been teaching, I made similar bows and arrows for the kids to play with.  I used cherry limbs I had pruned off our cherry trees in February for the bows, and cedar for the arrows.  I cut up the end of a pool noodle and hot glued the tips of the arrows into little holes I made in the spongy material of the noodle pieces (I found out later, though, the little rubber spongy balls would have been better if I could have found some because the pool noodle material isn’t strong enough to hold up under multiple hits).  The fletching I made with packing tape, shaped and cut to be like feather fletching.  I used paracord for the string.  I learned to wear leather gloves while notching the ends of the bows . . . because I cut myself not following knife safety rules making the awkward angled notches.  That was a lesson for the kids too, even the grown ups get cut when they don’t follow the safety rules.  The kids in my class were in a church parking lot, and after chasing each other around with their bows for awhile, I had the kids hide in the bushes around the edges of the church property, then I came along with a stuffed bunny dragged behind me on a cord for them to try to shoot.  It was more than some of them could to to stay hidden.  When they missed the bunny some couldn’t help  wanting to chase after me, shooting over and over!  It was a little chaotic trying to keep them in their places as I moved from one hidden student to the next down the bunny trail.

It was a good lesson in how much practice it takes to get good with a bow, besides just being a lot of fun!