Herbal Cough Remedy: Bougainvillea Tea

I wrote this post a long time ago but it never actually got published. As it is now cold and flu season perhaps someone out there may find it useful. 


My friend and neighbor Blanca introduced me to a traditional Mexican folk remedy for the sore throat and cough that is plaguing our household. ‘Cause when a toddler gets sick, everyone gets sick!

(Before I go any further, I am not a doctor nor do I have any medical training. If you choose to brew and drink this tea for yourself you do so at your own risk. This post has most definitely not been evaluated or recommended by the FDA. Do your own research. Use your own judgement.)


Bougainvillea (Photo credit: dullhunk)

Anyway, here in Southern California we are blessed with an abundance of Bougainvillea vines. I plucked these from some growing up a telephone pole next to where we parked the car while out and about on Sunday.  I just love the bright colors of this plant!

Ingredients: Bouganvillea Bracts and Cinnamon Sticks

Steep together until the bougainvillea has lost it’s bright color.

Strain into your cup.

Add honey to taste.

Your finished brew. Yummm!

I found this delightfully soothing to my sore throat. The taste was most pleasant as well.

One source, (now buried somewhere in my Google history, sorry) mentioned that this can cause liver or kidney damage if consumed in large quantities. I’m glad I saw the warning as it tastes so good I might have been tempted to do so!  For myself, used medicinally (and when I’m not currently  pregnant) I’m not concerned… Tylenol will also do a number on your liver in an overdose.

Here’s where I’m linking up:


Homemaker on a Dime,  I {heart} Naptime,  Flamingo ToesMy 1929 Charmer Blog,

What I Wore Sundayjembellish clothes upcycling page


Get Outta My Head PleaseSkip to My LouThe Gunny SackSew Can Do,

Singing Three Little Birds,  C.R.A.F.T.,  diy home sweet home,

Craft-O Maniac, Sew Chatty, Sarahndipities The Cure for the Common Monday


At Home With KNot Just a HousewifeHope StudiosFunky Polkadot Giraffe,

Kammy’s KornerThe Kurtz CornerI’m Topsy TurvyTip Junkie,

Raising 4 PrincessesThe Creative Itch BoutiqueSchwin and Schwin,

Heart and Soul Blog Hop

Tip Junkie handmade projects


Sew Much AdoFrugally Sustainable,  Lil’ LunaSomeday CraftsWhimsy

WednesdayWhatcha Work Up Wednesday


Mom On TimeoutThrifty DecoratingBear Rabbit BearThriving on Thursdays

The Crafty BlogstalkerThe Shabby Creek CottageHouse of Hepworths,

Sorta Crunchy, Delightful OrderAnything Goes Linky Party,


Simply DesigningWhipperberry,  Happy Hour Projectskojodesigns,

Joyful StamperMaking Lemonade BlogThirty Handmade Days,

Release Me CreationsNaptime CraftersRomantic HomeFinding Fabulous,

Shabby NestFrench Country Cottage, The Charm of HomeThe Grant Life,

At the Picket FenceFingerprints on the Fridge, One Art Mama2805,


The Gingerbread BlogToo Much Time On My Hands,

Six Sisters StuffSerenity YouBe Different Act Normal


And the winner is…

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway for the Sakura tea.

Sakura (Cherry Blossom) Tea

  We employed the high tech method of writing your names on a slip of paper and pulling one from an envelope. I could have used the opportunity to learn how to use the random number generator I see used on other people’s blogs, but this seemed more fun.

Misa and Kevin, who brought the tea with them from Japan, did the honors.

And the winner is… mamacravings. She has a newer blog that prominently features her adorable son, who is also a 2 year old Eli. Give her a visit and show some love. 🙂


Sakura Revisited

Giveaway Closed. Thank you to all who entered. 🙂 

A little while back I wrote  a post about the cherry blossom tea I was enjoying thanks to a gift from my sister-in-law, Misa. Well, my brother and his wife are now here from Japan to spend some time with my mother (and the rest of us as well).

And they came bearing gifts!

This was the wrapping covering the box of delicious Sakura (cherry blossom) pastries we received. Shamelessly ripped open as you can see.

In my original post I received a comment asking if the cherry blossom was edible. I knew it couldn’t hurt you to eat it but I had no idea it could be used in such a delicious confection!

I can’t go back and get a shadow free photo because these didn’t last long! The outside is made of mochi, a paste made of pounded glutinous rice. If you are not familiar with mochi ice cream (and can indulge) try out the mochi covered ice cream balls they sell at Trader Joe’s. You’ll thank me.

Sliced open, the cherry blossom paste filling is revealed! SO creamy, sweet, delicious… and now gone (shuddering sob-stifling sigh….)

I wondered if Eli, super-picky eater extraordinaire, would like it.

Um,… that would be yes.

So now to reward you for reading through a post about an incredible treat you probably can’t find to buy, and I can’t give a tutorial about how to prepare (yea, sorry about that…), I am happy to announce that Kevin and Misa brought me an extra container of cherry blossom tea.

A cup of sakurayu

A cup of sakurayu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, if you would like to try the tea for yourself leave a comment below. I’ll choose the winner at random next Sunday (4/22/12). If you didn’t see my post about the tea and want to know more go here.

Good luck!


Celebrating the Cherry Blossom

Yesterday I uncovered this gem in my cupboard, a tea made of cherry blossoms preserved in salt that my sister-in-law Misa gave me last year. It is called Sakurayu and is substituted for green tea at special occasions like weddings.

I had enjoyed it for a while, but as I didn’t drink tea as often in those days it eventually got hidden behind other things in the cupboard and forgotten. (Active baby who insists on being held much of the time + hot beverage =  recipe for disaster!)

It was the perfect time to make the rediscovery! Spring (and therefor cherry blossom season) has arrived, and I can now enjoy a hot drink around Eli without likely mishap. It was so nice to find this unusual and special treat again.

Oops... I fogged up the camera lens with the steam. It does look kind of dreamy though.

You could rinse the salt off beforehand I suppose, but I just brush the flowers off a bit. I like the salty taste combined with the subtle sweet and tart cherry flavor. We’ve also been battling a string of viruses here lately and drinking this tea a little bit salty feels good on a sore throat.

Taken from a bit off to the side things are a lot clearer.

Most of all I love to see the flowers bloom when placed in the water. So beautiful and relaxing!

Kevin and Misa

And drinking this tea makes me feel a little bit closer to my brother and his wife who are now living in Kyoto.

cherry blossoms

cherry blossoms (Photo credit: Peter Lee(이원희))

As I wrote this post, I found I wanted to learn more about cherry blossom (Sakura) season. One of the first articles I hit upon was this one from abcnews. It was there I learned that this month is the 100 year anniversary of the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees given to Washington DC by the city of Tokyo.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival, running annually since 1937, is now in full swing.

Cherry Blossom festival commemorative stamp

Japanese cherry trees (Sakura), a gift from Ja...

Japanese cherry trees (Sakura), a gift from Japan in 1965, adorn the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. during the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The Washington Monument is visible in the distance. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Letter to Eli, 23 Months

Dear Eli,

What a month this has been!

In mid-December you were given a developmental screening. We were expecting it to show a speech delay but were shocked by the degree of delay they say you have. The good thing is that it qualifies you for some free services in addition to the therapy that the insurance has approved. We have full confidence you will do just fine in the speech department given time, and the extra help is certainly welcome. Already you are showing improvement. At the time of the screening you weren’t saying much verbally other than “Mama” (when crying) and a couple of words you would repeat if asked to. Now you are saying “Mama” all the time and have added to that more, sopa, agua, dog, tea, Dada, ball, go, apple, Elmo, in, ‘Acki (Aunt Jacki) and a couple others that I just can’t think of right now. As of yet you’ve only had 2 speech therapy sessions, so I think a big part of it is just that you are becoming more ready to speak.

What we didn’t realize before the screening was that some of your behaviors aren’t just you being Eli, but rather indicate a Sensory Processing Disorder. For you it is mainly the vestibular system that is affected, although there are other non-motion things going on with you as well.

This actually helps to explain a lot… especially about why you are ALWAYS moving. As it has been explained to me you don’t have a sense of where your body is located in space unless you are receiving the stimulation of movement. Ironically, for your body to feel at rest it has to be moving. It explains why when you were a little baby you couldn’t sleep unless you were in the swing, and later why you would start rolling across the bed like a little tumbleweed waking up on your hands and knees crying 3 or 4 times every night. (We are thankful you don’t do that anymore.)

You beg to take a (cold) bath at least a couple of times a day. Once is usually the limit. I don't look forward to the day when you make the connection between getting dirty and bathing. I shudder to think of what you will do then. 🙂

Other ways you are affected are that you only want to be bathed in cold water. We’ve slowly gotten you to the point where you will tolerate it being luke warm. You also aren’t tolerating a lot of different textures of food, and often end up coughing when you try to drink fluids or when eating small grains. The swallow study you had done this past month showed that your esophagus works fine, so the problem has been attributed to the Sensory Processing Disorder.  In addition to the group and individual speech therapy you’ll be receiving you will also have group and individual occupational therapy. We are all of the sudden very busy, but I’m so glad that there is help available for you.

Adding the final touches to Mama's crudely drawn sidewalk pig.

You continue to love music, instruments and performances. You love to hear the sound of a crowd cheering and applauding. Sometimes when you are in a fussy mood it helps for us to turn on a game show in the background because when you here the applause you usually can’t help yourself but to cheer and applaud along.

You have had an on-going love affair with your daddy’s old guitar for many months now. The headstock is now completely shattered from all of the times you have dropped it on the floor. Let’s face it, it’s a lot of guitar for a little guy. It has been held together with duct tape, but the few remaining strings are becoming less and less strum-able.

Thankfully my Aunt Sylvia and Uncle Dave sent you a new, toddler-sized guitar. The day it arrived you spent much of the day carrying it around in a big bear hug when you weren’t strumming it. I caught you kissing it a time or two as well. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to get a non-blurry picture of you with it yet.

You also are drawn to the microphones and drum equipment at church. It is so cute to see you in your element happily exploring these things after service. Less cute is our inevitably loud exit as no amount of time with your beloved instruments is ever enough. Your howls and shrieks of frustrated disappointment are most likely heard at least a block away.

Here you are pointing inside your cup, exclaiming delightedly "TEA!"

Your love of tea continues to grow, much to my delight. You like to play tea party, in which you serve me pretend cup after cup of hot(!) tea, poured with all sorts of burbling water sound effects. In return, I am expected to share any cup of my (real) tea with you. I pour a little in a small cup and you impatiently wait for it to cool. This practice has led to a great improvement in your ability to drink from a cup without choking. The tea we have at home is all caffeine free but when we are out I like to get an occasional soy chai latte. I order it weak and you enjoy drinking the cold last half inch in the bottom of the cup so much that I figure whatever small amount of caffeine there is won’t kill you. The looks we get from other people are really something though, as it seems like I am giving my toddler coffee! This appearance is then only underscored by your normal extremely active behavior! (For the record I’ve never noticed any change in behavior after you’ve enjoyed the last of my tea.)

Riding on the firetruck at the park.

There are so many things you enjoy doing these days, but going to Barnes & Noble takes the cake! Now if we even drive on the street that glorious store is located on you begin frantically signing “book” long before the store is even in sight. At night your daddy and I like to wind down by watching a bit of Masterpiece Theater. He always mutes the B&N commercial at the beginning to prevent you from getting the idea that you have to go there RIGHT NOW. They have now removed the Lego table, but there are so many other things you love to do there I’m not sure you have really even noticed.

You had to test drive EVERY nook! You were so careful to replace each one carefully on the display holder without me even having to say anything. I was amazed (and hovered just the same.).

You usually make a bee line for the Music and DVD section immediately upon entering the store, (although today you were momentarily distracted by those wonderful nooks.) As soon as it is in sight you break into a canter, chirping “Elmo!”, Elmo!” Once inside the music section you gravitate to the DVDs looking for the Baby Einstein and Sesame Street displays.

These DVDs are then taken one by one to the scanner to be scanned. This is very serious work.

With each satisfying beep you abandon  that DVD and look for another to scan.You are actually pretty good about returning them to the place you found them, but you sometimes need a little encouragement. The sales people who work in that section  now recognize you and even seem to enjoy your visits.

Leave it to you to find the guitar!

Then it’s off to the children’s section, which, after all, is where Elmo lives.

You especially like the books in the vehicle area that have all sorts of sound effect buttons on them.

At some point it is time to go to the cafe, and as Daddy is usually your shadow at Barnes & Noble, you find Mama there with a cup of delicious tea and hopefully a coconut macaroon! In fact, the best way to get you to leave the children’s section sans tantrum is to suggest, “Eli, do you want some tea?”

Mmmmm... TEA!

Best of all, Barnes & Noble is a place where we occasionally meet up with people who love you!

Yes, Barnes & Nobel is truly your idea of heaven on earth!

I can’t wait to see what this last month of your second year will bring. I love you so very, very very much!


Horses, Tea and Black Widow Spiders

I had thought Eli was getting better on Tuesday but his fever has returned everyday this past week. We are now on day 5 and I hope it will be the last. There has been a 5 day virus passing around the kids in the neighborhood. We’ve done our part to prevent the spread of infection by keeping away from friends’ homes and the playground. He’s been pretty lethargic, so that hasn’t been too difficult, but today I couldn’t bear the prospect of being cooped up for a long day with a very cranky toddler. Especially since I had only slept about 2 hours last night. So into the stroller and off we went to see the horses at the stables about 1 mile from our home.

He really likes to look at horses as long as they don’t get too close. That works out well because there are signs requesting that visitors not touch the horses. After tooling around the stables a while we continued up the hill to the Starbucks.

Starbucks logo

Image via Wikipedia

This particular Starbucks tends to be frequented by the many retirees who live across the road in Leisure World. This works out very well for us… I always have  a good experience when I go there with a wiggly toddler in tow. We “sat” in a couple of overstuffed chairs near an older gentleman who soon stood up to leave. Concerned that we had disturbed his peace a bit too much I asked if we were bothering him. “Oh no,” he replied, “this has been part of the joy of the day.” It wasn’t long before Eli had had enough, becoming increasingly vocal as I packed up all of our stuff. A grandmother of 29 asked me if she could buy him a cupcake. I’m used to annoyed sideways glances during moments like these. I couldn’t accept the cupcake due to Eli’s dairy allergy (and the fact that he really didn’t need a sugar rush just then), but the offer warmed my heart.

By the time we got home Eli was ready to do some gardening. Oh, the joy of dirt!

A trowel, a dust pan, and an industrious toddler.

Redistributing the dirt between planters.

Hey, how did all this dirt get on my hands?!

Peering at neighbors from behind of the yucca tree.

Later while Eli napped I decided to unwind with a relaxing, hot cup of tea. I went looking through the long-neglected-for-the-summer tea cupboard to see what would strike my fancy. Upon moving a couple of boxes I saw her, and all thoughts of relaxing and unwinding skittered away.

Image via Wikipedia

We have a black widow spider in our kitchen cupboard! Making her home amongst my teas. For who knows how long.

I’m not particularly squeamish, but spiders make my skin crawl. Black widows make it run for the hills. Yep, here I am completely skinless as I type. It’s times like these I am very, very, very glad to be married. This is one for the stouter sex. Mice, rats, snakes… no problem. But black widows? Skinless, I tell ya.

I did try to get a photo, but by the time I’d returned with the camera she had hidden herself. I wasn’t about to go rooting around for an annoyed black widow. Time to close the cupboard door and back quietly away.

But here is what weighs heavily on the mind of Karen now. If there is one black widow enjoying my tea, how many sisters does she have? And where are THEY?