Learning At The Potter's Wheel is a collection of articles on home, family, marriage, parenting, natural medicine and herbs. . . along with a few other items of interest. Have fun sorting through my junk drawer of assorted thoughts and ramblings.


The Potter has persisted in giving me treasures I don't always understand or appreciate. Patiently, He is teaching me to trust that all I really need to know is that I am in HIS hands. . .

F-R-O-G !

I was running errands and stopped in the little neighborhood store near my home. The store is actually a converted shed that sells an assortment of home made goodies. They retail some homemade soap and laundry detergent made by my friend. Since my friend is about a 45 minute drive and the store is in the neighborhood, I stop in to purchase at the shed.

In the back, they’ve got a little kitchen/cafĂ© where some cooks that know how to do what grandma did serve up home-cooked meals to eat in or take out. There, on a shelf above the dining area, is my friend’s soap.

The bell clanked against the door as I entered the dining area. I noted that a gentleman and two ladies were eating at the table and chairs directly under the shelf containing the soap. “Excuse me,” I apologized. “I’m just going to grab some soap. I don’t mean to interrupt.” I reached up and got the bin, pulling out a few bars of soap and a couple of bags of laundry detergent.

Since we are in a friendly town in the South, it wasn’t at all strange to me that a conversation ensued about the merits of the soap. I was only too happy to tell them about how my friend came to make her soap, etc. Of course, this led to side conversations about how our little town isn’t little any more and is growing, etc.

At some point, the gentleman smiled and began to rummage in the pocket of his slacks saying, “I know! I need to give you a frog!”

It didn’t really faze me much. In my house, if someone says he’s got a frog in his pocket, it’s not all that unusual. Then I saw the appalled look on the lady’s face next to him, “Oh,” she exclaimed, “You’d better tell her what you mean!” That got a good-natured chuckle.

If you know me, it wouldn’t surprise you to know that all of this transpired without me ever getting everyone’s name. I inherited that gift from my mom. She (and I) can easily meet and have interesting conversations with anyone and never get the name. I figure this way they’ll never know for sure if I’m ready for a care facility :-D.

I continued to watch as this man actually DID pull out several plastic and rubber frogs of all colors and offered me one for myself, Duke, B and Z-man. As he did, he explained that someone had told him that F.R.O.G. was an acronym for Fully Rely On God. He liked the message and its truth so much that he began purchasing these little frogs to carry with him everywhere and share with people, telling them that they need to Fully Rely On God.


I thanked those kind folks and gave them a card with information on how to find No Greater Joy’s web site.

Early the next day (before decent people are normally awake *wink*) as Duke was getting ready to go to work, I slipped him the large green frog and told him the story. He smiled, stood a little straighter and slipped his frog into his pocket.

Now, we all have little pocket reminders to Fully Rely On God. I am so grateful that this servant of the Most High was willing to share this blessing with me and my family.

Have you remembered to F.R.O.G. today?

What a friend we have in Jesus,

What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in

Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge;
take it to the Lord in
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in
In his arms he'll take and shield thee;
thou wilt find a solace there.

Text: Joseph M. Scriven, 1820-1886
Music: Charles C. Converse, 1832-1918

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Fish is a wonderful addition to a healthy diet. A single serving per week can greatly reduce your chances of heart disease. Deep-sea, oily fish (salmon, tuna, swordfish, sole, flounder) are good sources of omega-3 and other long-chain fatty acids as well as fat-soluble vitamins A and D. Fish provide an organic source of needed iodine for proper development on a cellular level. (see post Iodine, Required for Health) Ocean fish feed upon the nutrient rich stores of ocean plant life that grow in waters fed from the mineral laden waters that flow from the land.

You should know, however, that battered and deep fried catch of the day won’t offer you all of the benefits you would like to have. There ARE types of fish that are worth avoiding.

We avoid farm raised fish, fish with skin (not scales), shellfish, and fish caught in shallows near the shore. We consume wild-caught, deep water fish that have scales.

We avoid farm raised fish because we cannot confirm that the water source is pure. Even treated ponds are subject to government approved treatments and they may not catch everything. We avoid fish with skin because these absorb toxins in two ways: first, they absorb toxins through their skin, secondly, they consume whatever leftover material is in the water – that includes carcasses of other sea life. Shellfish operate in much the same manner. These creatures exist as nature’s purifiers, constantly cleaning and filtering the waters in which they live. Consuming this type of fish would mean that we would also be consuming any toxins they had removed from the water.

That means that we consume fish with gills and scales wild-caught in deep waters (away from PBC and other contaminated shorelines). You can usually find frozen fillets in your grocery store. Check the fine print on the package to see where the fish was caught, whether or not it was farm-raised and where it was processed.

Now, if you’ve stuck with me this far, you are to be applauded. You’ve learned more about fish than Duke ever cared to know. All he knows is that he ends up eating fish every week which is better than when I find and serve organic beef liver (maybe a future post). Don’t get me wrong, if you offer Duke a large plate of battered and fried fish, a tub of tartar sauce (none of that cocktail sauce for him) and a generous dollop of grits, then he’s thrilled.

Unfortunately for Duke, his fish is baked or broiled, seasoned with sea salt and paprika and served steaming hot with veggies. He doesn’t complain, but he does grab the mayonnaise (organic) and place a nice glob on top of his fish.

Duke’s not the only one that misses our old fish eating habits. I remember how my parents used to save up the fish they caught for a big pot of catfish stew. . . Y-U-M! The spicy tomato sauce and chunks of fish would cook in their seasonings until just before you popped with anticipation . . . They never had large enough spoons!

Again, this sent me into my laboratory kitchen. I rummaged around and found an old catfish stew recipe, made a few changes and came up with a result that (I think) rivals my childhood memories. The fellas around here liked it well enough for more than one helping. See if you like it as well as they did.


  • 2 to 3 pounds of Salmon Filets (deep sea, wild-caught), cut into bite-size chunks
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1, 28 oz can organic, diced tomatoes (or about a pound of fresh, peeled and diced)
  • 1, 6 oz can organic tomato paste
  • ½ to 1 tbsp oregano (I like more than some people)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp chili powder (to taste)
  • ½ to 1 tsp cayenne
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar (or raw honey)
  • red and green peppers, chopped to equal about ½ to 1 cup

The last 4 ingredients and sea salt I just adjust to suit my taste.

This is one of my dump and cook recipes. Place it all into your stew pot and stir the ingredients. Add enough filtered water to bring up the level a little above the solid ingredients and to dissolve the tomato paste. Raise the temp to med-high, watching for it to bubble, stirring frequently. Once the stew begins to bubble, lower it to simmer for 30 minutes to an hour. The cooking time is a little longer if the fillets are still frozen. I just use my large knife to cut the frozen fillets into chunks. Watch to be sure the water level doesn’t get too low or you could scorch your stew. It can be served over rice or plain. I prefer it plain.
Yields 8 to 10 generous portions.

I know there are some individuals that add potatoes to their fish stews. I’ve sampled their attempts at fish stew. The starch in the potatoes is drawn out into the stew by the tomatoes. I don’t like the resulting taste or texture. It seems a disservice to perfectly good potatoes and fish. But I won’t debate that there are those who prefer potatoes in their fish stew. If you like, toss some potatoes into your stew and see if you like it better. For me, a recipe is actually just a suggestion or a starting point to launch your own creative culinary talents. Have fun!

read more “SALMON STEW”

Volumes of Blessed Information

Three years ago, I attended a seminar for parents learning about how to implement the Casein Free/Gluten Free diet. We had already started incorporating the CF/GF diet on our own to help ensure that Z-man didn’t encounter difficulties with digesting gluten.

The degreed nutritionist taught the seminar with a book by Lisa Lewis (Special Diets for Special Kids) on her lap and the book Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and PDD by Karyn Seroussi on her briefcase. The significance of this is that the Seroussi book I already had at home after seeing its review on the Bulk Herb Store web site. The book by Lisa Lewis, was recommended in the Seroussi book, and I had checked it out from the local library. (I didn’t add the Lewis book to my library.)

I listened as the nutritionist answered several questions with “I don’t know.” At one point, I did tell her where the answer to one of the questions was located in her book so that she could look it up. I went there feeling very intimidated and thinking I had so much more to learn (I’m still learning *smile*), but I left there encouraged in the way God has supplied the many needs for our family.

If you’ve read much about our early days with Z-man’s diagnosis, you will know that one of our greatest concerns was how or if we would be equal to the task of parenting a child with special needs. We knew we loved him, but we didn’t know if that was enough.

I’m here to tell you that your love coupled with God’s wisdom is exactly what your child needs. God can get you the information you need, packaged in a most effective way for your circumstances. I’m not here to tell you that you don’t need expert advice. I am here to tell you that the experts aren’t the expert on YOUR child. YOU are! With God’s guidance, you will be able to pick and sort your way through the decisions you must make.

That’s why I so highly recommend Sally Fallon’s book, NourishingTraditions along with Karen Sourissi’s book, Unraveling the Mysteries of Autism. While these books are both well written and interesting, they also provide parents with an education in how foods work and how they affect the development of a child – and overall health. These are reference volumes for how to evaluate your own circumstance and make choices in the best interest of your child and family.

I stumbled upon these books because God had placed into my hands literature from No Greater Joy ministries. I read the recommendations, invested in the books, and I am STILL benefiting from that decision.

At the seminar I mentioned, I was one of the better-prepared parents in attendance – and some of those parents had been doing this diet for 8 years! I not only understood the mechanics of the diet, but I understood why it works – something the nutritionist didn’t really seem to grasp.

Again and again, in this journey I have been reminded to praise my Loving Heavenly Father who takes the time supply His children with more than they need before they even know how to ask.

If you don’t have a copy, these books are often available at your local library. Check them out and see for yourself if you don’t think they are a necessary reference for every kitchen. These books can both be purchased new from Bulk Herb Store (http://www.bulkherbstore.com/NT and http://www.bulkherbstore.com/UMA). To save money, you can often find used copies available online. You can’t have mine. ;-)

Now unto him that is able
to do exceeding abundantly
above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that worketh in us,
21Unto him be glory
in the church by Christ Jesus
throughout all ages,
world without end.
Ephesians 3:20,21

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Beans 101

Beans, nuts grains and seeds are tiny testimonies of creation’s
wondrous design. All of these foods are types of seeds. Seeds are little machines that contain digestive enzyme inhibitors (known as phytic acids). These enzyme inhibitors prevent the seed from sprouting out of season or in less than ideal conditions. This allows for the seeds to be ingested by animals without being digested completely. The seeds then exit the animal and are ‘planted’ elsewhere.

If these enzyme inhibitors are left intact and consumed by humans, they can stop our own digestive enzymes from operating properly. In serious cases, this can lead to an imbalance of – or neutralization of – our own digestive enzymes. In ideal conditions, this may only cause occasional gas and discomfort. However, in a person exposed to today’s environmental assaults, it can easily domino into impaired health.

The process of germination neutralizes the enzyme inhibitors and releases the enzymes so that the seed will sprout. These same enzymes aid in the digestion of the food.

Sprouting beans produces vitamin C and changes the composition of the bean. The vitamin B content is increased along with carotene. The removal of phytic acid (enzyme inhibitors) through sprouting means that valuable minerals and nutrients are made available which include: calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc. Sprouting breaks down the complex sugars which produce digestive discomfort and inactivates carcinogens found in grains called aflatoxins.

The proper preparation of beans is a key to how well your family is able to receive nourishment from the food. If you need another reason (there are many) to not consume commercially canned foods, add this to the list. Establishing a lifetime of health for small children, in my opinion, means giving them every opportunity to BENEFIT from the foods they consume. Not sprouting beans (again, in my opinion) is like not taking the food out of the wrapper before requiring your family to eat them.

Even if your family does not have a member with fragile health or developmental issues, it is not a stretch to say that imbalances of the colon lead to chemical upheavals in the body that can have neurological implications. The human body is a system that makes constant adjustments to achieve balance. When we overtax that system, the most vital organs will suffer from the resulting imbalances. This includes brain development.

So, properly prepared, beans, grains, nuts – SEEDS – are a valuable part of an overall balanced and nutritious diet. Of course, you know if you’ve read much of my material, I’m going to recommend that you use organic beans that are free of pesticides and other chemical residue. :-D


I soak them overnight in a covered container and rinse the next morning. I place a large piece of cheesecloth over the bowl and secure it with a rubber band. Then I turn the bowl downward at about a 45 degree angle so that it can drain. I find that setting it upturned in another bowl is good for this.

Throughout the day, I rinse with filtered water (chlorinated tap water is not recommended) and drain again (3 to 5 times). I've found that lentils sprout the quickest (they have the least phytic acid) -- usually the first day. Black beans are the next to sprout – just shy of two days. Pinto beans and kidney beans take about the same amount of time, two to three days. Most other larger varieties (chick peas, etc.) take about three days or a little longer. There isn't as much foaming when the beans are cooking after using this method. The process is very simple, but it does require a little planning ahead.

For cooking, I give the beans one more rinse and place in a stainless steel pot, covering them with filtered water. When the water is heated and foam appears, I skim the foam off of the beans and continue to simmer. Once the water has cooked down to about level with the top of the beans, I usually add homemade chicken broth (2 cups, of course, made from organic chickens) and some seasonings, allowing the pot to continue simmering on a low/medium heat for about 2 hours or longer (adding water as required).

Here are some of the spices I use when making a basic pot of beans. Everything is pretty much to your own taste.

  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Chili flakes
  • Coriander
  • Cumin
  • Garlic – one large or two small cloves
  • Onion – ½ large, chopped
  • Ground Pepper
  • Sage
  • Sea Salt
  • Thyme

My littlest ones won't eat overly spicy/hot dishes, but I find that the cayenne pepper has a nice flavor and (used in moderation) quite tasty in beans.

If you aren’t able to get your beans to sprout, I would be suspicious of whether or not the beans were truly free of chemicals. If a dried bean does not sprout it may have been treated with some sort of chemical or irradiated. If I had questions about a batch of beans, I would try to get a sample to sprout. I would be reluctant to consume beans that won’t sprout.


Ezekiel 4:9
Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley,
and beans, and lentiles, and millet, and fitches,
and put them in one vessel,
read more “Beans 101”


Urtica dioica
stinging nettle
common nettle

Flowers, leaves, roots, seeds.

Acetic acid, beta-carotene, betaine, caffeic acid, calcium, copper, coumaric acid, fatty acidsferulic acid, , folate, iron, lecithin, lycopene, magnesium, manganese, p- scopoletin, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sulfur, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, C, and E, zinc.

Nettle contains formic acid (found in the stings and bites of many insects, mainly ants.), mucilage, mineral salts, ammonia, carbonic acid and water.

These elements, along with phosphates and a trace of iron, make nettle a valuable food source and medicinal tool.


The Nettle plant is considered a weed. The stem attains a height of 2 to 3 feet. Its perennial roots are creeping, so it multiplies quickly, making it somewhat difficult to remove.

The whole plant is downy, and covered with stinging hairs. Each sting is a very sharp, polished spine, which is hollow and arises from a swollen base. In this base, which is composed of small cells, is contained the venom (formic acid), the active principle of which is said to be bicarbonate of ammonia. When the sting pierces the skin, the venom is instantly expressed and injected into the offender causing resultant irritation and inflammation. When the plant is cooked, the burning property of the juice is dissipated by heat. Nettle, when boiled, can be eaten as a pot-herb.

The juice of the Nettle is an antidote for its own sting, bringing instant relief when applied.

The sting of a Nettle may also be cured by rubbing the area with Rosemary, Mint or Sage leaves.

Nettle should be harvested on the morning of a mild day, when the sun has dried off the dew. Cut off just above the root, rejecting any stained or insect-eaten leaves. Tie the plant in bunches, about six to ten in a bunch, spread out fanwise, to dry.

Hang the bunches over strings. If dried in the open, keep them in half-shade and bring indoors before there is any risk of damp from dew or rain. If dried indoors, hang up in a sunny room or a well-ventilated room by artificial heat. Care must be taken that the window be left open by day so that there is a free current of air and the moisture-laden, warm air may escape. The bunches should be of uniform size and length, to facilitate packing when dry, and when quite dry and crisp must be packed away at once in airtight boxes or tins, otherwise moisture will be reabsorbed from the air.

The seeds and flowers are dried in the sun, or over a stove, on sheets of paper.

Nettle is classified as an astringent. It has the property of tightening or contracting tissues and drying fluid secretions. Burns may be treated with Nettle by applying linen cloths, soaked in tincture, with frequent re-application. An infusion of fresh Nettle leaves is a soothing and healing lotion for burns.

Nettle is a hemostatic, meaning it stops bleeding. This property combined with the astringent property make Nettles a valuable first aid dressing to wounds of the skin.

Additionally, Nettle is an analgesic (substance that reduces the sensation of pain). This pain relieving property makes nettle useful in applications for the treatment of rheumatism, rheumatic gout, arthritis, nettlerash, bruises, and chickenpox.

As an ingredient in hair care products, Nettle helps stimulate hair follicles and regulate scalp oil buildup. Nettles support healthy skin, hair and nails as they contain the beautifying mineral sulphur.

The diluted juice provides is useful as an astringent gargle.

The hemostatic property of Nettle is applicable internally. An infusion of the dried herb, or alcoholic tincture made from the fresh plant, or the fresh Nettle juice itself in doses of 1 to 2 tablespoonsful can be used to treat bleeding from the nose, lungs or stomach. For a nosebleed, moisten a clean cloth or piece of cotton with Nettle juice and place it into the nostril.

Nettle is an anti-inflammatory, easing the symptoms of benign enlargement of the prostate (prostatic hyperplasia) and other glandular enlargements, including goiter (abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland).

Allergic Response
Hay fever and other allergic disorders are helped by Nettle.

An alterative, Nettle enhances the absorption of nutrients from food and excretion, restoring normal body functions. A nutritive, Nettle contains rich stores of nutrients which are building to body tissues. This herb is useful in the treatment of malabsorption syndrome, an alteration in the ability of the intestine to absorb nutrients adequately into the bloodstream.

Anemia is a condition that occurs when there is reduced hemoglobin in the blood. This causes fatigue, breathlessness, and a pale skin tone. Nettle can be used as a tonic which revitalizes and treats anemia. It’s high vitamin C content helps prevent scurvy. Nettle Tea can be used as a blood purifier. Care should be taken to either consume the herb fresh or preserve the herb by drying, tincture or other means because this plant begins to lose its nutritive value when harvested.

Nettle helps to lowers abnormally elevated blood pressure, classifying it as a hypotensive.

(An excessive accumulation of fluid in tissues; dropsy)

A diuretic, Nettle increases the production and elimination of urine, supporting the kidneys and bladder. Gout is a painful condition that results from accumulation of excess uric acid in the bloodstream and joints that cause joint destruction, kidney stones, and arthritis. Consumption of Nettle has proved beneficial in the treatment of this condition.

Weight Loss Aid
Because of its diuretic properties, Nettle will help the body shed excess pounds due to edema. However there are additional properties of Nettles that support weight loss.

The high nutrient content (vitamins AND minerals) of Nettle supports the body as it clears toxins. Some believe that there are some undiscovered properties of Nettle that enable it to feed cells on a deeper level, reduces cravings. Consumption of Nettle tea is used to curb appetite and cravings and assist in weight loss. The serotonin in Nettles support balanced emotions, calming and raising the spirits. Serotonin also plays a role in helping the body feel full, functioning as an appetite suppressant. Decreased levels of serotonin have been found to be directly linked to overeating obesity. The powdered seeds have been considered efficacious in reducing excess weight

Nettle is useful as an expectorant, promoting expelling of mucous secretions from the air passages. An anti-asthmatic, the juice of the roots of Nettle leaves can be mixed with honey or sugar to relieve bronchial and asthmatic troubles. The dried leaves can be burnt and the inhaled incense will have the same effect. An infusion of Nettle seeds/leaves can be used to treat consumption (wasting away of the body, particularly from pulmonary tuberculosis – also known as tuberculosis).

Herbal Nettle Beer
A tonic used as a remedy for gout and rheumatic pains.

  • In large stainless steel pot, combine 2 gallons cold water & equal volume washed young Nettle tops.
  • Add 3 or 4 large handfuls of dandelion, of cleavers (goosegrass: Eleusine indica), and 2 or 3 oz of grated fresh ginger root.
  • Bring to a boil, and simmer gently for 40 minutes.
  • Strain off liquid and return to the pot.
  • Stir in 1 1/2 cups raw sugar (turbinado or brown sugar).
  • When the extract is lukewarm, combine 1 heaping tablespoon of active dry yeast with 1 teaspoon of sugar, and enough warm water to make a thin paste.
  • Spread the yeast mixture on a slice of dry toast, and float it on top of the extract.
  • Keep the pot fairly warm for 6 or 7 hours, while it works. Then remove the scum and stir in a tablespoonful of cream of tartar. Bottle and cork securely.

Other herbs are often added to nettles in the making of this herbal tonic, such as burdock, sassafras, meadowsweet, wintergreen, birch sap, and horehound.

Nettle is one of the few wild plants still gathered each spring in the country for food. These leaves make a refreshing dish of spring greens. This bitter herb has a slightly laxative effect.

The young tops should be gathered when 6 to 8 inches high. Gloves should be worn to protect the hands when picking them. Wash the Nettles in running water, stirring wit ha stick. Place wet into a saucepan without any added water. Cook with the lid on for about 20 minutes.

To serve, chop the cooked vegetable, serve plain, or warm again in the pan, using salt, pepper and butter to taste. Nettle goes nicely with gravy and poached eggs. Nettle leaves are also a nice addition to vegetable soup.

In autumn, however, Nettle leaves are gritty and not so enjoyable for the table.

In Scotland, Nettles are used with leeks, broccoli and rice to make Nettle pudding.

Nettle Pudding/Porrige
(for us Southerners, this is more like a stuffing or dressing)

  • Thoroughly wash 1 gallon of young Nettle tops.
  • Add 2 large leeks or onions,
  • 2 heads of broccoli or small cabbage, or Brussels sprouts,
  • and 1/4 lb. of rice.
  • Clean the vegetables well; chop the broccoli and leeks and mix with the Nettles.
  • Place all together in a muslin bag, alternately with the rice, and tie tightly.
  • Boil in salted water, long enough to cook the vegetables and rice. Serve with gravy or melted butter. These quantities are sufficient for six persons.

Nettle fiber is very similar to Hemp or Flax, and it has been was for the same purposes.

After the Nettles had been cut, dried and steeped, the fiber is separated, and then spun into yarn.

This yarn is considered particularly useful for making twine for fishing nets, the fibre of the Nettle being stronger than those of flax and not so harsh as those of hemps.

When Germany and Austria ran short of cotton during the War, the value of the Nettle as a substitute was at once recognized.

Dried and powdered Nettle is considered an enriching additive for poultry feed, increasing egg-production and supporting healthy growth. The seeds are also said to fatten fowls.
Turkeys, as well as ordinary poultry, thrive on Nettles chopped small and mixed with their food, and pigs do well on boiled Nettles.

Some horse-dealers mix the Nettle seeds with oats or other food, in order to give the animals a sleek coat.

The juice of the Nettle, or a decoction formed by boiling the green herb in a strong solution of salt, will curdle milk, making it a substitute for rennet when making cheese. The same juice, if rubbed liberally into small seams in leaky wooden tubs coagulates and seals the tub watertight.

A decoction of Nettle yields a beautiful and permanent green dye for wool. The roots, boiled with alum, produce a yellow color suited for dying yarn or for staining eggs.

Additionally, Nettle can supply a substitute for sugar, starch, protein and ethyl alcohol.

A strong decoction of Nettle, drunk in large amounts, can produced burning over the whole body.

As with all herbs, avoid use of plants that have been exposed to toxic chemicals or have not been certified 'chemical free.'

Disclaimer: None of this is to be considered a substitute for medical examination and/or treatment. Use what you will, but do so knowing that you must consider your own circumstance and the application of these things with sound judgment.

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