All About Thyme
  A Monthly Calendar of Times & Seasonings

  Celebrating the Mysteries, Magic, and Myths of Herbs
Susan Wittig Albert  
October 1, 2018
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This Month's Special Days:
A Potpourri of Celebrations

Herb of the Year for 2018: Hops
Flower of the Month for October: Marigold.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Week 1. Spinning and Weaving Week.
October 5: National Apple Betty Day.
October 6: A good Saturday to go for a walk through autumn woods and admire the colorful witch hazels.

Week 2. Teen Read Week.
October 9: Ancient Romans celebrated Felicitas, the goddess of good luck, on this day.
October 14: National Dessert Day. Also, on this day in 1926, Winnie-the-Pooh was published. (Happy birthday, Pooh!)

Week 3. National Friends of Libraries Week.
October 16: World Food Day.
October 18: Today is the birthday of herbalist Nicholas Culpeper, 1616-1654.

Weeks 4-5. Witching Week (We made this one up, but it fits, don't you think?)
October 22: National Nut Day (No, not that kind—think pecans, walnuts, almonds).
October 24: On this day in 1788, Sarah Hale was born.
October 25: World Pasta Day.
October 27: A good day to go for a walk through autumn woods and admire the colorful witch hazels.
October 30: National Candy Corn Day.
October 31: Halloween!
Chiles and Chili

Culinary note: To cook chili, you have to know how to spell. Chiles are peppers, ranging in temperature from mild to incendiary. Chili is a thick stew made with meat, peppers, herbs, sometimes tomatoes, and (if you live north of the Red River) beans. If you live in Springfield, Illinois, or other northern or eastern locations, you might spell chili with two l's: chilli. Texans never spell chili with beans, unless they're looking for a fight.
Chile Death: A China Bayles Mystery

While it's not official, chili has to rank right up there with ballpark hotdogs and movie popcorn as the Great American Dish.


Things to Do in October

* Learn why Apple Betty has such an odd variety of names (pandowdy, grunt, slump, buckles, crisp, croustade, bird's nest pudding or crow's nest pudding) and find out something about its history. Then cook up a fine dish of Apple Betty (or whatever you'd like to call it) for supper.

* Create your own special celebration of the Roman goddess Felicitas by making a list of the good fortune you have experienced in the past month. If you're not feeling so lucky, here are a few herbs that might help.
  • Allspice promotes luck, health, and happiness.
  • Chamomile is the gambler's lucky herb. In Rome, gamblers washed their hands in chamomile for luck.
  • String nutmegs, star anise, and bits of sandalwood in a lucky necklace.
  • Plant hen and chicks (Sempervivum) on your roof to bring good fortune.
  • Still down on your luck? Try thyme, rosemary, spearmint, honeysuckle.

* You may never have heard of Sarah Hale, although you can probably recite her poem, "Mary Had a Little Lamb." Mrs. Hale also wrote two important cookbooks and (for 40 years) edited Godey's Ladies Book. Through the amazing magic of the Internet, you can turn the virtual pages of her famous cookbooks and see what American women were cooking two centuries ago.

* World Pasta Day. To celebrate pasta, try making your own. Learn how from this award-winning pasta cook and surprise your family with homemade pasta.

* Celebrate Culpeper's birthday by reading Susan's article about this famous astrological herbalist.

* What does witch hazel have to do with witches? Exactly nothing. The Mohican Indians used forked witch hazel sticks to locate underground water, and colonists eagerly copied them. But while "witching" for water (or precious metals) may sound spooky, the name "witch hazel" has nothing to do with the supernatural. In England, small trees (ash, elm, hazel) were cut, or coppiced, to encourage the growth of pliant shoots, or wyches, for bows and woven fencing. Witch hazel shrubs reminded colonists of the wyches back home. Learn more about this valuable astringent herb in the October 20 entry in The China Bayles' Book of Days.

* Find out what Susan is up to by visiting her blog, Lifescapes. Gardening, reading, writing—there's always something interesting going on. You can also keep tabs on her daily activities (and see some great photos of the plants and animal friends at MeadowKnoll) on her Pinterest board, Writing a Life on a Texas Homestead.

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Who's Susan Albert?

Susan Wittig Albert is the author of two recent memoirs: An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days and Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place. Her fiction, which has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, includes Loving Eleanor and A Wilder Rose (biographical/historical novels); the China Bayles mysteries; the Darling Dahlias mysteries; the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter; and a series of Victorian-Edwardian mysteries written with her husband, Bill Albert, under the pseudonym of Robin Paige. She is founder and current president of the Story Circle Network, a member of the Texas Institute of Letters, and Honorary President (2012-2014) of the Herb Society of America. More

To find out what's going on in Susan Albert's life in the Texas Hill Country, read Susan's blog.

Follow Susan on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, & BookBub.

Who's China Bayles?

She's the beloved fictional herbalist in Susan Wittig Albert's popular mystery series, set in Pecan Springs TX. For more about her books, visit

For more about herbs and the passing seasons, read China Bayles' Book of Days.

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The Darling Dahlias & the Poinsettia Puzzle

It's Christmas, 1934, and the citizens of little Darling, Alabama, are unwrapping a big package of Christmas puzzles. You'll enjoy your holiday visit to Darling, where real people have courage, respect for their neighbors, and the dream of doing their best, even when they're not sure what that is. Preorder now, read in October, cherish all year.


Susan's latest books! Our bookstore is open.

Loving Eleanor

Don't miss Susan's prizewinning novel about the friendship of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok.

"This warm, extensively researched novel will entrance readers and inspire them to look further into the lives of two extraordinary women." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Now available!

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Order from your local independent bookseller
The General's Women

A compelling novel about love, betrayal, and ambition by New York Times bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert, The General's Women tells the story of two women—Kay Summersby and Mamie Eisenhower—in love with the same man: General Dwight Eisenhower.

Available in ebook and print.

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Order from your local independent bookseller
A Wilder Rose

Named to Kirkus' best of Indie 2013 Books! Susan's historical / biographical novel tells the story of Rose Wilder Lane's collaboration with her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder in the writing of the famous Little House books.

"Pitch-perfect... A nuanced, moving, and resonant novel... an absolute pleasure." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

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