Sweet Nettle: My Darling Finnish Elf From the North Country

It's been a few weeks now since I received a surprise package in the mail from Milla.

It was just the kind of surprise I like to get- full of good books! And two perfect handmade cloth bags that I have used a thousand times since.

Ella and Mycelia were very excited about all the items there were to remove from the box and peruse.

This beautiful coloring book was one of my favorite things included in the package.

And the girls got right to work coloring in it and reading through the sweetest li'l book, Children of the Forest by Elsa Beskow. If you've never seen her books, I highly recommend them as the perfect vintagey woodsy gifts for the children in your life.

I can't wait until Mycie is old enough to read the Narnia series. Thank you so much for these Milla! I have begun reading The Golden Spruce, and I love how it transports me to a misty, numinous Northern land where boundaries are shifty and unusual events take place (it's a true story!).

Milla also included two of the most darling mugs I have ever seen (and I'm a girl who loves and collects darling mugs). Both whale themed, I've used them every day since their arrival.

Check out the little whale tail INSIDE the mug on the right. I love that the one on the left has an image of the great white whale (okay, it could be a beluga, but since its baby is dark I'm saying it's a sperm whale).

And what do your eyes see here?

Delicious dried stinging nettles that Milla hand picked up on her lush island last season! Nettles are extremely nutritious and make a soothing, grounding tea. I've only ever found one patch around here that I am loathe to pick from and thereby diminish, so all of the many nettle infusions I have drunk over the years have been store bought. I can't tell you enough how much it means to me to receive such a gift. For more on the many, many benefits of nettles, check out Sasha's post from her one time blog Kitchen Witch.

I got right to work filling those whale mugs up with nettle infusions. I had been having sinus issues- I think due mostly to the extremely dry atmosphere that permeated Nevada City before we finally got some rain (and would you believe that we have one of the worst air qualities of any place in California? It's true, due to the fact that pollution from the nearby great central valley pools up here in the foothills), and perhaps from some early pollination thanks to all the sunny weather- and was using the Neti pot every few days. I was grateful to have gleaned this one bit of information from my herb teacher Kami McBride that I have never read in any herb book: If you are using nettles to help with mucus membrane issues (which it does), make a cold infusion instead of the usual hot infusion, or it will kill the components in the herb that soothe the membranes (though the vitamins and minerals will be retained). For more on making infusions (which are simply long-steeped herbal teas) see Sasha's post linked to above.

"Nettle makes us open up to life and our senses, but because she doesn't take any crap, she also imparts a vital sense of self-protection." My goodness, re-reading Sasha's words is really making me  miss her herb blog!

Cheers with mugfulls of nourishing herbal brews to all of the amazing women in my life whose friendships fill my heart with love and my mind with fresh ideas and my body with strength and healing.

(Oh! Be sure to check out my current **$50 vintage gift certificate Giveaway!**)