The Ladies' Tea Guild

Monday, October 21, 2013

Victorian experiments: salve for sore joints

_Victorian Farm_ book.  Photo:
Elizabeth Urbach
I've been noticing quite a bit of soreness and stiffness in various joints in my body -- especially my hands and my knees -- in the past few years, and since that's where the women in my family have gotten arthritis, I think that's what's beginning to happen with me.  It's not extreme yet, but it is really annoying, especially when the seasons change and the weather turns colder, so I've been looking for ways to minimize the discomfort.  Painkillers seem a bit much at this point, and being a historian, I've been looking online and through my books for ideas for healing and soothing salves.  Yet another great tidbit of information in my _Victorian Farm_ book, from the ever-interesting Ruth Goodman, is a recipe for making your own lip salve by melting lard, almond oil, and a few other things.  On the _Victorian Farm_ program Ruth makes a few other home remedies, so I decided to modify her lip salve recipe by using some of the other herbal information in the _Victorian Farm_ book and my other Victorian domestic manuals, to make an herbal salve to soothe my soreness.  Many sources say that comfrey is a good herb to include in healing salves, and there happens to be some growing in the herb garden at History Park in San Jose, where I work.  Between that garden, and my garden at home, and my mom's garden, I have access to several good culinary and medicinal herbs, and decided to add basil and a few drops of tea tree oil to the salve.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

New costume finished!

Trevelyan's Miscellany, 1602.
Well, it's finished *for now*, anyways!  My oldest nephew has been showing signs of an interest in history for the past few years, and has really gotten into Medieval, Renaissance, and WW2 history lately, exactly as my brother did when he was the same age.  Just as I did for my brother, I intend to encourage this interest in any way that I can.  I gave my brother a lot of history-related books and magazines when he was younger, and he's started passing them on to my nephew, so I have to take a slightly different tack!  This year my nephew turned 10, and asked my brother to take him to the local Renaissance Faire for his birthday.  My brother and I usually go together, and in costume (of course!).  I happened to overhear my brother agree to take my nephew to Faire, and I said "We usually go together, and we dress up, so if you're coming with us, I should make you a costume."  I expected my nephew to say "Well, I don't know ..." but he immediately said "YES!"  Good thing I hadn't bought him a birthday present yet: his costume would be his present from me!

Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)