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La Coumeille
wild and herby in the south of france
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  • New things for you in the shop. A bedtime tea full of relaxing and sleep inducing goodness. Wild hawthorn and oregano blended with homegrown lavender and lemon balm and some organic orange zest. Just add cosy blankets, fluffy pillows and a good book. Sweet dreams. 

    And then there is this soothing, protecting but gentle body oil. For all the family, even the teeniest or furriest members. Moisturiser, all-purpose healer, nappy rash and dermatitis soother, massage oil for fractious little ones. Made with my own calendula flowers and organic sunflower oil and lots of sunshine.

    You can get them here or here

    The rosehips and juniper berries I picked earlier have been made into a gorgeous seasonal syrup to help keep the immune system ready to fight off cold, cough and flu symptoms.

    How to make it:

    • Fill a large pan with the rosehips, juniper and hawthorn berries. Add chopped pine needles and rosemary. The berries are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. Juniper also helps detox the internal organs and boost the blood circulation while the hawthorn is an adaptogen, which means it adapts it’s function depending on your body’s needs, stabilising imbalances and adrenal function. Pine has a great affinity with the lungs and Rosemary, well there’s nothing this plant can’t do for you! Anti-microbial, antiviral and antibacterial. It stimulates bile and clears toxins, warming and antispasmodic. I love it.
    • Cover with 1.5 litres of water, add a cinnamon stick and cover, steeping overnight. Next day bring it to the boil and simmer until the liquid has reduced to around 1 litre.
    • Strain through muslin, squeezing out as much as you can. Return to the heat and add around 250g organic rapadura sugar or to taste, stir till dissolved.
    • Allow to cool, add a little tincture (I used lavender) or brandy to help preserve the syrup, pour into sterilised bottles and store in the fridge. Its delicious, but if you are making the syrup for children omit the alcohol. You can take 3 tbsps of the syrup every morning, or pour over pancakes, oatmeal, add to drinks… 

    Berry season! Rich red vitamin C loaded rosehips and beautiful dark purple/black detoxing juniper berries to go with the hawthorn berries (haws) I harvested last week. Half of them will be dried for winter tea for bugs, sniffles and coughs. The rest I’m cooking up into a rich syrup along with pine needles and thyme I picked on the same hike to give an immune system boost to help prevent the bugs, sniffles and coughs. I just refuse to do ill, and prevention is always better than cure.

    “ Before I went vegetarian, I did not like broccoli and cauliflower, I had never tasted avocadoes, never thought about mixing in nuts and seeds with my food. Never really appreciated the sweetness of fruits and orange veggies.
    Before I went vegan, I had never experimented with dates and peanut butter, never realized that dark chocolate is so much tastier than milk chocolate and so much more satisfying. Never knew how ice cream and yummy cookies can be made out of a bunch of over ripe bananas, which you got for free. Never guessed how magical cashews are and how they can be turned into cheesy sauces or dips, or that almonds make the best white crumbly cheese. I had never really appreciated hummus, delicious homemade pesto and the yumminess of smoothies.
    I discovered chia and flax seeds, which are excellent egg replacers and thickeners, Who knew oats left to soak overnight could be so good?
    No, vegetarianism and veganism are not limiting. They just open you up to a whole new world. And the awesome feeling of knowing that you’re living healthily while leaving less marks on mother earth, and hurting no animals is irreplaceable. ”


    Mary Lyse (via fightingforanimals)

    Just passed my 2 year anniversary of being vegan and I’ve never felt better!

    (Source: fightingforanimals, via bodiesloveberries)

    My mouthwash blend is now available in dried herb form, I’ve called it Sweet Kisses! Made with my naturally homegrown plants that you can use to make your own infusion, decoction or tincture to either maintain daily oral health or to treat gingivitis, infections, halitosis, ulcers and abscesses.

    la coumeille shop  |  etsy

    Hawthorn berries. It’s a good idea to gather plenty of these for winter, although it’s worth remembering that any foraging must be done sustainably and ethically; never take more than 15% of a trees’ fruit to ensure not only the health of the plant but also the birds and other wildlife that rely on the berries for winter food.

    I am drying the berries for tea to help with winter coughs, colds and flu due to their high vitamin C content. Dried berry tea is also useful for gastric upsets. Hawthorn is one of western herbalism’s very few adaptogens, which means it has the ability to adapt it’s function depending on your body’s needs, stabilising imbalances and adrenal function. 

    I’m also steeping some berries in brandy for a nice winter hot toddy.

    {However, the seeds inside contain cyanide so I’m unsure about giving them to my rabbit, guinea pigs and rat. If anyone knows if it’s safe for them to eat them, please let me know!}

    Find out more about hawthorn here

    While in the town today I picked up plenty of conkers in the park from the beautiful horse chestnut trees. When I was a child in England every autumn there would be a scramble to get the best ones for conker fights in the school playground, but here in France kids don’t play. Known as Marron d’Inde, it’sa much used herbal remedy for strengthening blood vessel walls, treating varicose veins, improving chronic veinous disease and oedema. Packed with anti-inflammatory and vaso-protective aescin, French athletes massage with horse chestnut to prevent sprains before competing. If like me you suffer from heavy, tired legs and poor circulation, gather yourself around 20 conkers (away from road pollution) and give them a good bashing. Put them in a large heatproof jar and pour over enough oil to cover them. I use 2 parts organic sunflower oil to 1 part organic olive oil and I add plenty of chopped rosemary too, which stimulates blood flow and smells amazing. Using a double boiler or bain-marie, heat infuse them for 2 hours. I prefer to use my slow cooker on the lowest setting and leave them all day. After infusing, strain the oil through muslin and a give them a good squeeze. Put into a sterilised bottle and use for a daily leg massage. Your legs will thank you.

    This afternoon we climbed up the hill called La Coumeille to gather wild rosemary and spike lavender. Nourished by a summer of heat and thunderstorms the plants are strong, pure and clean and the volatile oils in them intense and aromatic. I will make Four Thieves herbal blend and tea with them, as well as a tincture for kicking winter sluggishness and heaviness into touch.

    My boy is getting bigger and more rascally every day. He must be eating his own bodyweight in sorrel, dandelion and clover. He loves a little sage in the mix too.

    Making mouthwash. I’m making this for a sufferer of recurring gingivitis that won’t clear up, despite antibiotics. I’m working with sage/sauge, mint/menthe and the roots of wood avens/benoîte. Sage is antibacterial, antiseptic and antimicrobial, the mint is also antiseptic and analgesic, helping make it more palatable. The benoîte/wood avens root is a traditional french plant for mouth problems, often used to treat mouth infections,  ulcers, abscesses and swellings. It’s astringent action reduces swelling and helps close the gap between the gums and teeth. It has a taste a little like cloves. I’m making both a strong decoction and a tincture form and adding a little Camargue salt to the mouthwash to act as a disinfectant.

    Update:  I’ve now made a dried blend of these plants available

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