Monday, February 28, 2011

A Hat for E

I made this hat for E over the weekend:

Now we'll get back to that oh-so-casual statement about how fast it went in a minute, but first I'll tell you why I made it.  E has been wearing this hat for the last two or three winters:

My mom made it for me (luckily I've never been a pinky-pink girl, so the boys have been able to wear several of my handknits, in shades of red, blue and yellow) when I was little.  E's head is starting to get a little big for it, so he wanted to make me a new one, the exact same as the old one.  I bought the yarn for it during my yarnathon last month.  The original is acrylic (which probably explains why it has lasted all these years without shrinking or felting or anything), but I wanted to use the same kind of wool I used for my sweater, in worsted weight (Quince & Co Lark) , because it was so soft and squishy and lovely to work with.  

I spent some time laying the design out on graph paper and translating that to a pattern and it took some brain-bending to figure out the gauge I needed to make a slightly-larger hat.  I cast on and knitted several rounds and then ripped out no fewer than three times Thursday and Friday night (probably best to not start a complicated project after 8 pm after partaking of a glass or two of wine and while chatting at knitting group!), but by the time I went to bed Friday night, I had the right number of stitches cast on the right size needles and was ready to really go Saturday morning.

E worked on his knitting while I worked on mine,

And helped me roll the yearn into balls:

I often put off projects because I'm afraid they'll be hard, or take too long.  This one was no exception.  I have only attempted knitting in pattern once before (the very second thing I ever tried knitting--a hat for C), and I had pulled the yarn too tightly behind, so that the hat had no stretch and was too tight for him.  I was worried about the same thing happening again, and I was afraid it would take me all the way until next winter to finish E's hat.  But once I plunged in, I felt exhilarated, and picked up my knitting every spare moment.

I've been reading some different books and articles about happiness, pleasure, enjoyment and "optimal experience."  I can't articulate much of what I've read, but one theme I've been able to pick up on that growth and continuous improvement are essential to true happiness and enjoyment of life.  While I've had the same boring scarf sitting in a bag for 10 years, awaiting my attention, this project, which challenged and scared me a little (but was not so difficult as to be frustrating), sent a little thrill through my chest whenever I worked on it.  I was using my brain and my hands (yea for learning Continental knitting--I held one strand of yarn in each hand!) in new ways that challenged and excited me...and seeing results as I went along!

I finished up Sunday morning, while drinking my after-breakfast pot of tea.  I was almost a little sad about being done--rather than my usual product-oriented way of being, I was enjoying the process so much, that I missed it when it was over.

The final hat is narrower, but taller than the original, but with a lot of stretch, so that it fits E well, and should continue to fit through next winter.  There are some mistakes.  Some not-quite-right tension throughout.  But I feel good and E loves it.

(Ravelry notes here)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Remember those BIG things I started working on last month?  I'm actually making progress.

First--ta-da--I finished the sweater.  Yes it's very hand-knit looking and does not fit great, but it's done, which means I can knit a sweater!  In only 1.5 months even.

I'm blocking it as we speak.  Keep your fingers crossed that it doesn't shrink.

See that dangling string?  That's all the yarn that was left when I finished, which is about as close as you can come to running out of yarn without actually running out of yarn.
 I have been working doggedly at M's quilt, first cutting (and cutting) and now piecing, working one hour each weekend.  I have to say, the actual work of quilting is most tedious.  I like the planning and designing and the being done, but that middle part?  Not so much.  Am trying to be mindful and focus on The Moment as I do it, but mostly I just count down to the end of the hour.  I'm a little nervous about knocking over my pile of pieces and getting everything all mixed up and out of order.

And, finally, I'm almost done with Issue #12 of my zine.  I just need to come up with a title and a cover image and drop it at the printer.  Hopefully I'll pull that off (or out, as the case may be) in the next couple of days.  No photo, 'cause there's not much to look at but a pile of marked-up paper, but soon, very soon, I'll have more to share along those lines.

As I've mentioned before, accomplishing things is a key to my happiness (or non-depression), and a some stuff I've been reading lately about happiness confirms that people need growth for happiness.  I think these big projects (among other little ones) have greatly helped keep the February Funk I just need to come up with something even bigger for the even more discouraging March Malaise.

What are you doing to survive winter?

Monday, February 21, 2011

February Notes and Miscellany

  • I had to give myself a blog time-out last week in order to finish a book review that was supposed to be due "the middle of February."  After Valentine's day passed, I realized so had the middle of the month, and I hadn't gotten much done.  I was able to sneak some alone time at a cafe between work and knitting Thursday night, Saturday afternoon I sent C and the boys away for a little while, and by Sunday morning, I just gave in and worked with the chaos around me.  The process (of writing) was very much like wrestling an alligator.  I felt very blocked the whole time, but I think I finally worked it into submission.  Anyway, my editor gave me good initial feedback, so that made me feel better.  So, go ahead and ask did breaking through the blockage inspire me to sit down and write the short story that buzzes through my brain on at least a weekly basis?  No.  Still finding excuses to avoid the written word (many of which you can see below).
  • This was the view from my desk Sunday:
This little guy made it hard to concentrate.
          I had to take a little break and sketch the scene:

  • M has been away with relatives for a few days, which may have contributed to my ability to work Sunday morning.  Not that his demands would be as insistent as his brothers; when they were done with Lego's and ready to play Frog Juice with me, I knew there was nothing to be done but hit "send."  M on the other hand, would have just been standing reading over my shoulder, or playing his guitar in my ear.  When I called to talk to him, I could hear him playing Axel F on the piano.  I surmised, and it was confirmed, that he had already played it approximately 11,000 times the first two days of his visit (he'd also learned to play the opening bars of Let it Be).
  • C gave me this necklace (from here) for Valentine's Day.  One egg for each of my nestlings.  I love it. 

  •  I made this sandwich this weekend.  It's a big slab of bread from Stoneyfield Cafe with pesto, mozzarella cheese and tomato jam:

  • I had to make a new clothespin bag over the weekend because this is what our old one looked like:

It's actually looked like that since November, when a mouse or something decided to eat it.  And it must not have looked exactly pristine since at least last May, because after my mom visited us, she sent me a package of new clothespins (apparently our blackened, broken ones were also not up to snuff) and some material left over from when she made a clothespin bag somewhere around 1980.

I finally got around to it this weekend because C said, "Is a clothespin bag something you can make, or should I be looking around for a new one?"  The situation was dire for C to contemplate shopping (He recently took his first trip to the grocery store in, I'm gonna say at least nine months, last week because he finally ran out of homemade maple syrup).  So I finally gave in and made it, using Mom's strawberries, lined with green gingham.  I used some wire I found lying around the basement to hold the opening open and C punched in two grommets.  The hanging wire from the old one was in perfectly good repair.  The whole process took about half an hour. Good thing I put it off so long.

  • E and Z have been in a serious fantasy-play phase, where their Lego guys all have distinct personalities (Tom Lighthouse, Tom Tooey, Tee, Captain Ceratops, Captain Wilson, and King Alligator are just some of the characters I've been able to pick up on).  Then they'll move on to the dollhouse, where the dolls are moot, but all of the dogs and cats represent various pets they have known (including our own plaster cat, Snowball, and C's old dog, Cooper, who's been dead at least 12 years), and then to the plastic castle and pirate ship, incorporating a variety of wooden "Waldorfy" animals, dinosaurs and knights and cheap plastic soldiers into this whole complicated world where the above-mentioned Lego characters appear again in new guise.  I love just eavesdropping on them.
  • And, despite the whole winteryness of February (yucky black snow banks, treacherous sidewalks and driveways), there have been some signs of spring hereabouts.  I heard a great horned owl hooting one morning when I was unfortunate enough to be wide away at 4 a.m.  I smelled a skunk near my office (skunks, not groundhogs should truly be the harbingers of spring).  I have no idea how it tunneled out of 3 feet of ice-hard snow.  The first day it got up above freezing, the carpenter ants appeared.  I don't know why the ladybugs that inhabit our home all winter bother me not at all, but the ants make me insane.  I did remember a large paper bag of sugar in our cabinet and sequestered it in canisters and jars before they could find it.  And, I found myself at the Patagonia outlet sale the other day and bought three sun dresses.  Would you call that Spring Fever?  Perhaps even Summer Fever?

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    The Hazards of Country Life

    Friday night I arrived home from our weekly family swim a few minutes ahead of the boys--we came from different directions, and so had taken separate cars, and the locker room scene is always more complicated with four than for one.  I was hoping to get inside, into my pajamas and in bed with a book before they got home, peace and quiet being a rare commodity around here.

    I had all of the boys' backpacks in my car, plus their snow pants, my two swim bags, my work bag, and the mail to carry inside.  I scooped up as much as I could hoist with two arms, planning to return for a second trip.  As I shuffled up the slippery walkway, I heard something scrabbling in the woods to the right of the house.  A moose (one of my greatest fears is to come face to face with one of those ice age ungulates)?  I looked back at the car, considering returning to shine the headlights at the sound, but the snowbanks dwarfed the car, and would block the light.  Maybe it's just deer, bedding down for the night in the hemlocks, I convinced myself.

    As I neared our front door, I could hear the distinct scrabbling sound of claws descending the trunk of a tree.  Porcupine.  C had mentioned that one had moved in under our deck.  It's happened at least once or twice before--a porcupine makes itself at home under the shelter of our overhangs in late winter, where it holes up until it mysteriously dies in spring.

    Porcupines move slowly, and I got inside without confronting it, but I knew I'd never be able to make the second trip to collect the rest of my accoutrements.  I turned on the porch light and peered out the mudroom window, watching it waddle along the edge of the house, where the snow is at its shallowest.  When it came around the front of the bump-out, I opened the front door a crack to see it more closely.  Its head came to a featureless point, like an anteater.  It stopped and swung its snout door-ward, no doubt attracted by the warm air radiating out the crack.  I closed the door and waited, listening to its claws scruffle along the ice of the path, and opened the door again to watch it climb up the snowbank and head toward its den under the deck.

    Once it was safely out of range, I headed back to collect my stuff, just in time to see headlights beam along the driveway, signaling the arrival of the boys and the end to my quiet moment.

    Edited:  I forgot to add that all night afterward I had dreams about being stuck in a house (oddly, my grandmother's) with a family of porcupines and a mountain lion/golden retriever mix, from whose muzzle I attempted to extract a quill, until it attempted to eat my arm.

    Sunday, February 13, 2011

    Valentines Projects

    For Valentines this year, we made wooden conversation heart necklaces.  I saw the idea on someone's blog somewhere, but it's not one I normally read, and I didn't bookmark it, so I can't give credit, but suffice it to say:  idea not mine. 

    I bought the hearts here, and C drilled a small hole near the top of each of them.  Then we went to work with paint and brushes.

    I always take on these big projects and then, halfway through begin to regret it.  This one had to be spread out over two weekends, and the painting part, other than a certain someone being very particular about how he wanted to paint his (I was going with the assembly line method, with each kid doing all the hearts in each of two colors, but Z wanted to do all of the colors).

    We were going to stamp on little candy conversation heart sayings, and I even bought a box of them for the purpose.  But I found the sayings on them neither very clever or kindergarten and fourth grade appropriate (U R Hot, etc.).  Didn't they have better sayings on them when we were kids?

    As it turned out, we barely had room for the kids' names on them, let alone the crafty stamina to do much more.  Happily, we still have the boys' name stamps that I had made last year, which made "signing" the hearts fast and easy.

    We strung them with red yarn and, 51 hearts later, called it good.

    This weekend, we also made a graham cracker gingerbread house.  There's no way a gingerbread house will happen around Christmas time with all the other stuff going on, so two years ago I got the idea of making them for Valentine's day.  We never got around to it last year, but E and Z have been asking to make one for a while.

    I have a tendency to dread these kind of projects, expecting them to take up more time and trouble than they actually do.  I had no idea when we'd fit this in (they hearts took up much of Saturday), but the boys were ready to do it as soon as they got out of bed Sunday, so while breakfast cooked, I mixed up the icing and piped it on while they stuck on various candies from the health food store.  They wanted to make a castle, which turned out to be an excellent idea, with a flat roof being much easier than a peaked one.  The whole thing only took about half an hour (and I bowed down in gratitude that I hadn't given in to my urge to make the gingerbread from scratch too).

    C and I have a lunch date planned, and I actually ordered him a real present (which hasn't arrived yet)!  For each of the boys, I tucked a small chocolate and a little Wade figurine (you know the ones from Red Rose Tea) that I picked up in an antique store into the little stuffed heart pockets I made last year.

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    Giveaway Winner!

    Congratulations to Jenna of the blog Stirrings and Stories for winning my Back to My Roots Flower Tea (and Woman's Book of Herbs) giveaway.  I always feel bad that I can't give my giveaway to everybody who comments, but I plan on coming up with another one for next month, so you all can have another chance!  In the meantime, Jenna, email your address to me at andreaelan (at) yahoo (dot) com.

    (P.S. I use the random number generator at to pick a winner, in case you're interested).

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    Nature Journaling, Birds at the Feeder

    Every weekend for me (as I'm sure it is for everyone) is a careful balancing act (or a messy food fight) between the things that need to get done and the things I want to do.  For months now, I've been wanting to sit and draw the birds at the feeders outside our livingroom windows (yes, that is my idea of fun), but usually by the time I have a chance to catch my breath and relax for a few minutes, the afternoon shadows have grown long and the birds have flown off to find a cozy place to spend the night.

    This past Saturday I finally made a point of sitting down and communing with the birds, sketch book in hand, while it was still bright and sunny in the morning.  It was the all-chickadee show that morning, except for a lone nuthatch who swooped in to steal a sunflower seed and then swooped out again, which made it easier to focus on one species' details.

    Fortunately, chickadees like to hang out in the feeder, mulling over the seed selection, giving me plenty of opportunity to observe them.

    Now, I know, generally, what a chickadee looks like--black cap, black chin, grayish back, wings and tail, whitish underside.  But the details, if I try to call them up in my head--what shape is the chin patch at the bottom?  What happens to the cap at the back of the head?  Is the belly white-white?  Or off-white?  Or gray-white?--eluded me.

    So I sat, and watched, and sketched, until I had it fairly clear in my head, and then I tried a more finished, colored drawing (playing with my new colored pencils--whee!) completely from memory and observation (normally I do such a drawing from a photograph in a field guide, but this time I really wanted to do it from live birds--and now I totally get why Audubon wanted to shoot the damn things, so they would hold still a minute!)

    My poor bird has no feet.
    I even tried drawing one in flight, though I have no idea what the wings should look like, really; they move so fast!

    I had so much fun (yes, I am an odd bird), that when the goldfinches came out the next day, I was back at the window, pencil in hand.

    Again with no feet!

    The goldfinch's winter plumage is so much less distinct than the chickadee, it was harder to focus on details and find shapes to draw.

    I even got a brief chance at sketching another nuthatch, who once again swooped in and out.  An ancillary benefit of sketching birds is the opportunity to observe behavior--which birds travel in groups?  which seem more aggressive?  which hang out at the feeder picking over seeds?  which grab-and-go?  It's pretty cool and interesting.

    I'd like to issue another invitation to you.  Find a place where birds congregate (a feeder outside your livingroom is handy, but if you don't have that, head to the park, a duck pond, the cafe where the pigeons beg, etc.), and take a few minutes to watch and draw what you see.  I went back to my feeders throughout the day, for a total of maybe an hour or more, but if you only have five or ten minutes, take it and run with it.

    I'm in no way qualified to teach bird drawing, but I can tell you what I tell my kids.  Birds come from eggs, and they are made of eggs; specifically a big body egg and a smaller head egg.

     Once you get the egg shapes, in the right proportion (I always draw my head egg too big and have to go back and enlarge my body egg), the rest is just details.

    (Please see Nature Journaling, An Invitation and Nature Journaling as Meditation for more on starting a nature journal, and come back here to leave a comment about your experience drawing birds, and/or a link to a blog post you write about it.)

    P.S. Don't forget to enter my blog giveaway by Wednesday night (I know I said midnight Wednesday, but I meant the midnight at the end of Wednesday)!

    Monday, February 7, 2011

    The Productive Writer, Part 1: A Word

    Just before Christmas, I received a bonus gift--an advanced copy of Sage Cohen's The Productive Writer.  I took Sage's Poetry for the People class two years ago, and despite it being a gloomy March, I managed to produce a lot of poems, two of which were subsequently published on vox poetica, and I've had her Writing the Life Poetic book on my shelf, patiently waiting for me to take it down and use it for about a year now, so I was very excited to be selected to receive her new book and, you know, become more productive.

    My end of the bargain?  Promote the book on my blog.  The only problem was, it got shuffled aside into the "to deal with after the holidays" pile.  Ever since then, I've been carrying it around in my bag, staining it with egg yolk and soup leaking from my lunch, and mostly not having time to even crack the cover, let alone be productive.  

    BUT, last month, I led my writing group through a series of goal-setting and big-dreaming exercises, mostly lifted from the first chapter of the book, as well as ideas from other sources.  And, I have come up with a word "that encapsulates my [writing] intentions," as recommended in Chapter 1:  Free.

    My big picture goal for the year is to free-up time to write.  To free myself to take chances, make mistakes (to quote Miss Frizzle).  To free myself from the inner critic, fear and self-doubt.  To free my writing from structure, convention, stale old blah-ness.

    So that's my word, my goal.  How has it worked out so far?  Not so much.  But maybe stating my intentions here will make them more real and make me more accountable.  I did take a few minutes to flip forward through the book, and I'm very exciting about some of the stuff in upcoming chapters, particularly the one entitled "Writing in the Margins of a Full-Time Life."

    I plan on posting more here about what I glean from the book and how I put it to work for me, so stay tuned for my Productive Writing Life.  In the meantime, I think "productive" needs to mean getting going on a book review I promised to have drafted by mid-February and that zine I think I said would be done by the end of January.

    Sunday, February 6, 2011

    February Red

    Outside the world is still frozen in the ice white and blue of January, but inside I fan the flames of February reds.  I replace the blue glass in the window with red, and a sweet heart-shaped beeswax candle.

    Valentine's day is red, and Chinese New Year feels red to me (and not in the Communist sense)--red dragons and lanterns.  I have a length of red Chinese silk, that I will one day make into a sexy dress, but for now, I drape it in the dining area, with a streamer of felt hearts.

    We celebrate Chinese New Year, Observed (Asian-fusion-style), twice.  First on Wednesday, we eat Dragon Soup and read Daisy Come Home and The Story of Ping.  Sunday, friends come over and we make eggrolls and stirfry.  M and his friend try some origami and M looks up Chinese characters online to write onto their cootie catchers.  We listen to a new CD--Asian Dreamland--and read Chinese and Tibetan fairytales at bedtime.  I forgot about the red money envelopes, but that's OK, because so did they.

    A friend of mine once remarked that she liked the light in February. I don't know if she meant the longer days, after the dark of November, December, January, or the angle of the sun, or the quality of light.  It should be the counterpart to October, in terms of length of day and angle of sun (the Old Farmer's Almanac indicates that, just a bit south of here, February 15 is about the same length as October 31).  October's light is golden, setting the crimson and bronze leaves of autumn ablaze.  I try to capture this light, soaking in the warmth of the late morning sun coming in the window as I wash dishes.  I raise my head from the pillow and peer out at the sunrise illuminating the bare trees out the west window.  The light is golden, yes, pale, frosty gold, but golden.

    Early February is halfway between the winter solstice and spring equinox--the ancient Celtic festival of Imbolc, or the beginning of spring (our modern day Groundhog Day).  It was the beginning of spring.  I add lambs for Imbolc and rabbits for Chinese New Year to our nature table (which has been demoted to a window sill for the time being).

    Spring feels far off now, but it makes its first whispering advancements.  I snowshoe to the neighbors' house through snow over my knees, and peel off layer after layer as the warm sun penetrates.  Two blinding flashes of lightening, followed by horrendous rumbles of thunder, split the night, followed by icy rain pelting the windows.  All day the roof drip, drip, drips.  Carpenter ants wake up from their long sleep and skitter across the floor.

    We don't kid ourselves--there is much snow and ice ahead of us, before the coming mud, before the first tender shoot of spring shows its green face--for now we focus on the red, take the heat when we can get it (from the sun or the wood stove).

    Don't forget to enter my Women's Book of Herbs giveaway!

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    Back to My Roots, Part II: Flower Tea and a Giveaway

    First, let me tell you that part of this giveaway is a regift.  My mother-in-law gave me A Woman's Book of Herbs by Deb Soule, famed Maine herbalist of Avena Botanicals, for Christmas.  Which I believe was a regift, because I'm pretty sure C gave the book to her for Christmas a few years ago.

    In any case, it's practically brand new, other than a slight discoloration of the cover, and appears to never have been opened (and, I just found out, is out of print).  I already had a copy of the book, under its previous title, The Roots of Healing, so I thought, who would appreciate a copy of this book?  And the answer, of course, was you.

    But I didn't want to just give you someone else's old book, so I decided to make an herbal preparation to go with it as part of the package (and part of my return to my witchy ways).  Under the chapter "As We Grow Older" is a recipe for Flower Tea.  Soule recommends a number of herbs for the tea, but suggests experimenting with flowers and proportions, so I headed to the local health food store and picked whatever flowers from the bulk herb bin looked and smelled good.

    Then I did a little taste test to try and figure out an appropriate combination.  Each of them tasted good--sweet, delicate and fragrant, so I decided to go with equal proportions of:

    Red Clover

    The results look stunning in a jar, and the tea tastes lovely--lightly sweet, definitely floral, very pleasant.  It's good alone or with honey, or a shot of ginger syrup.

    Many of these herbs are calming and soothing to the nerves, as well as aiding digestion and beneficial to the immune system.  I think it will make a general all-around winter tonic.  Just the bright cheeriness of the colors of the flowers is enough to lift the spirits.

    I've included in this giveaway, along with the book, a packet of flower tea, a flax and lavender soothing eye pillow, made with my favorite-ever Kaffe Fasset print (also out of print, which is tragic) on one side and soft pink flannel on the other, and a bar of lavender-blueberry chocolate (for its nerve-soothing properties, of course).

    To enter to win, leave a comment on this post between now and midnight EST February 9, telling me about your favorite herbal, natural or home remedy.  Remember to include your email address so I can contact you if you win.  

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    Back to My Roots, Part I: Ginger Syrup

    I have been interested in herbal medicine ever since I found a copy of Jeanne Rose's Herbs & Things (copyright 1972) on my mom's bookshelf back in high school (I still have that book, complete with yellowed 1973 and 1974 clippings from Organic Farming and Gardening magazine pressed between its pages).  I would definitely have been a midwife and local witch if I had lived a couple hundred years ago (don't ask me why modern health care professions, with no danger of being burned at the stake, hold zero appeal for me).  I once took a class in herbalism and I used to grow and gather my own herbs and make tinctures, infusions, balms and teas.  One year I even gave herbal preparations as Christmas gifts (to bewildered and likely not very appreciative recipients).

    Like many things in life, though, once I had kids herbalism was relegated to an unused back cupboard of my life (actually, a plastic tote in the basement, from which I recently discarded 10+ year-old herbs and potions).  A combination of the lack of time and exhaustion of early motherhood, and a heart condition M was born with that relegated him to prescription medicine for the first 10 months of his life, effectively indoctrinating me into the world of pharmaceuticals, pushed my interest in herbs to the wayside.

    Although I still tried to stick to natural remedies when possible, it became much easier to visit the chiropractor or buy a bottle of homeopathic tablets or pre-made tinctures, teas and balms than to grow, harvest and prepare medicines myself.  A few weeks ago, though, M lay in bed with a dry cough that kept him (and me) awake.  I got up and prepared my mom's go-to cough syrup (which I loved as a child and still swear by):  honey, lemon juice and whiskey, in roughly equal proportions, warmed slightly.  It did the trick, though M, half-asleep, appeared horror-stricken that I gave him alcohol (just a tiny smidge, I assure you, and mostly evaporated off in the heating process) and I thought to myself, as I have every time I've had a child with a cough, "I should make some ginger syrup."  I've never followed through on that though, until now.  

    We had made ginger syrup in that herbalism class I took many years ago, but I could not find any notes on it so I had to wing it.  I didn't measure anything, so I can't give you exact amounts here, but I don't think you can mess it up.

    Grate two whole ginger roots and place in a sauce pan.
    Cover with water (approx. 2-3 cups).
    Simmer gently for about an hour, reducing the liquid by about half.
    Strain and discard ginger.
    Combine warm liquid with 1/2 - 1 cup honey.
    Place in clean jars and store in the refrigerator (I don't know how long it lasts!).

    This rather imprecise method made enough to fill three four-ounce jars plus a couple of tablespoons.

    I had a chance to test it that very night, as M once again was coughing in bed.  I gave him one spoonful--his eyes popped out of his head from the spiciness--and an extra pillow and heard only one more cough before he fell asleep.  We have fortunately not needed to try it again, but it will be handy when we do.

    Ginger has a stimulating and expectorant action in the lungs and relieves coughs and chest infections.  It also is warming in the winter, restoring well-being and vitality.  Honey, my doctor friend told me, is the most effective cough medicine in children. Ginger also stimulates and aids digestion and relieves nausea and vomiting, so our syrup will also come in handy with any upset tummies this winter.

    Come back tomorrow for a recipe for flower tea and a February giveaway!

    Edited 2/9/11:  I've been giving a dose of this syrup to M almost nightly for the last week, when he wakes up coughing (and coughing and coughing)...and it seems to be working great!  I will add, though, that it seems a bit thin, and not quite syrupy in consistency, so I'd recommend reducing the liquid more and/or adding more honey.
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