" I should have warned you before that we'd likely end up sleeping in haystacks, wi' naught but healther ale and drammch for food. " "I don't mind" , I said. He nodded toward an opening in the trees, not taking his eyes off of me. "I havena got a haystack about me, but there's a fair patch of fresh bracken yonder. If ye'd care to practice just to get the way of it...?"
Diana Gabaldon - Outlander
I want you to meet one of my favorite allies; the lovely Linden tree or you may know it by it's other names, Lime tree or American Basswood. It's an easily identifiable tree with lovely boxy leaves, long pod shaped leaves and pretty seed pods. It's also the easiest tree in the world to identify when it's in bloom. All that you need are your ears and your nose! A Linden tree is also called a "bee tree" and for awfully good reason. Walk underneath one and look up. If it's covered with flowers it will undoubtably be covered with honeybees. I have been obsessed with it's fragrance for many years. It's gorgeous, clean yet floral, a Linden in full crown is the scent of warmed raw floral honey and freshly mown hay. If you'd like to smell that heady smell but don't have a Linden tree nearby , let me introduce you to one of my favorite perfumes, the lovely Jo Malone French Lime Blossom which quite frankly is heaven in a bottle combining French Linden blossoms with a touch a tarragon and bergomot...
The leaves and flowers of the lovely Linden make a truly relaxing tea that can be enjoyed at anytime and is one of the best natural nervines that I know of. A few handfuls of the fresh or dried leaves and flowers steeped or infused into a quart of water and then sweetened with raw honey is truly ambrosia. Enjoyed with a nougat cookie or a fine piece of shortbread elevates it to a truly remarkable experience. Apologies to Marcel Proust, but most of the time I'm not crazy about Madeleines:)
For me the real strength of the Linden was found when I began struggling with the moody sweaty symptoms of perimenopause. If you're anything like me, at age 54 it can be a little bit tricky to get a good nights sleep. My husband puts his head on the pillow and sleeps like a baby but oh no...not me. Menopause by itself can have me sweating , tossing and turning and if you add a bit of stress to the mix, I'm bound to be up for most of the night. Removing caffeine and alcohol before bed is very helpful, but I also have found that 2 dropperfuls of my favorite Linden tonic in a cup of warm water with some honey about an hour before bed works wonders! Then just slide under the covers, enjoy a book for a bit and doze off. You should wake up refreshed and ready to start your day!
This tonic is an infusion of some of my favorite green allies. I'm a bad candidate for any sort of sleeping pill and I'm naturally very intense, so I made friends with all of these plants quite some time ago out of absolute necessity. Everyone of them is cooling, soothing and promote a lovely restfulness without drowsiness. Hops and valerian are well known relaxants but you won't wake up feeling as if you've taken a sleeping pill. Linden is one of the loveliest nervines that I know and is used all over the world to promote rest and relaxation. Oatstraw helps to keep all of your lady parts content, cool and juicy while the chamomile and lavender are natural sleep enhancers, slowing the activity of the nervous system while promoting lovely dreams. Anise Hyssop is a delightfully licorice tasting anti-anxiety herb and the catnip speaks for itself. All you need to see is your favorite kitty rolling around on a catnip pillow to know why I included it in the mix and then there's the Rose Absolute. Rose Absolute is just such a beautifully evocative scent and is in my opinion the ultimate aphrodisiac, nervine and antidepressant. Its magical presence in this elixir provides the alchemy that ties it all together and makes it work so well.
I make this tonic in large mason jars so my measurements are for one of those!
In each mason jar layer:
2 tablespoons of raw honey
1 and a half cups of tart cherry juice
1 and a half cups of frozen (more antioxidents!) blueberries, raspberries and blackberries
3 tablespoons each of:
10 drops of organic, culinary rose absolute ( My favorite culinary essential oils are the Chef's Essences by Mandy Aftel)
Vodka (or blackberry brandy)
Layer all of the ingredients into the mason jar and top with vodka. Close the top of the jar and shake until blended. In about three weeks, strain and funnel into dropper bottles. To use, add two dropperfuls of this tincture to a cup of warm water or herbal tea. Add honey if you'd like and sip, preferably in a warm bath or wrapped in a soft robe.
NOW JUST FOR FUN!
A lavender and hops filled sleeping pillow is the perfect sidekick to this tonic and so easy to make. Just get two pieces of rectangular shaped soft flannel ( How about Tartan!) and sew them together , leaving one side open. Fill the pillow with arborio rice or buckwheat hulls, lavender and hops flowers and then add about 20 drops of lavender essential oil. Sew up the open side and roll the pillow back and forth to distribute the lavender oil. Either take it to bed as it is or heat it in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 3 minutes. You'll be dreaming sweet dreams in no time flat!