My kitchen smells divine! I've been gathering herbs and heating them in a slow oven to make sweet dreams pillows for a couple of friends who are having trouble sleeping. Lavender, peppermint, catnip, rosemary and old-fashioned (fragrant) roses have been drying in batches in a 200 F oven for days. Wish I had fields of all of them but I'm fortunate to have enough for a few pillows. My chamomile didn't do well this year, so it is ordered from the Rosemary House in Mechanicsburg, PA, my go to source. Once it arrives, I'll add it to the mixture and complete the pillows.
Sweet Dreams Pillows
Catnip - relaxing, helps bring sleep
Chamomile - calming, keeps bad dreams away
Rosemary - same as both above
Lavender - relieves nervous tension
Peppermint - enhances clarity and vividness of dreams
Rose petals - promotes warmth and love
My first sweet dreams pillow was a gift from Joyce, one of my very favorite participants, from my Enhancing Your Life with Herbs course in the autumn of 2015. With a few gentle squeezes, the pillow is as fragrant now as it was when she first surprised me with it! See my October 23, 2015 post for more information!
"I just love this new look you've been creating, it's got all the details of a good botanical illustration AND it's super artistic and original. Go you!"
~ Paula Swenson-Zografis
~ Paula Swenson-Zografis, Artist-Illustrator
Lives in Vila Nova De Ceira, Coimbra, Portugal
Creating collages has been my main distraction during this pandemic. It has kept me productive and occupied. My youngest daughter fought the virus for over a month and thankfully, is now recovering. My oldest daughter was married a couple of days ago and I wasn't able to attend the wedding. Turning to gardening and art has been a comfort and therapy.
So far, I've created 105 collages!
The next step it so paint them. When I did my course on Enhancing Your Life with Herbs, I painted over 200. It's a six week course and I've delivered it four times, always taking in fresh cuttings to pass around the class so they could experience the fragrances, textures, color and at times, the flavors. Unfortunately, since our class will be on Zoom this year, we won't have that opportunity. Having the illustrations will be even more helpful this year.
After I create the paintings, the next step is the tedious, but satisfying job of cutting them out.
Painting the papers comes next. The papers can be used as backgrounds, or torn or cut to create images. Using the best quality paints ensures the colors are intense and vibrant!
Finally, all are combined to create my collages!
Lavendula officianlae, L. vera
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh lavender blossoms
I cup (two sticks) butter at room temperature
2 cups almond flour
1 cup flour
Combine the sugar and fresh lavender blossoms using a food processor.
Add the butter and combine. Next add the flours.
Mix until thoroughly combined.
The batter will be soft.
Chill for 30 minutes.
Flour both sides of the dough and place between two long sheets of waxed paper.
Using a rolling pin, roll to 1/4 inch thickness. Work quickly. The dough will get soft again as you work with it.
Cut cookies with a floured cookie cutter.
Remove all the excess dough and return to the 'fridge. This will make it easier to move your shaped cookies.
Gently lift cookies onto a cookie sheet lined with baking parchment paper.
Chill the cookies on the baking sheets for 30 minutes
Set oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
Once the oven is preheated, bake for about 30 minutes. Begin checking at 20 minutes and don't let the edges of the cookies brown.
Cool on a wire rack placed.
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 Tablespoon water.
Mix thoroughly with a fork. Add a little more water if needed.
Keeping the cookies on the wire rack, move them over the sink if your rack fits, or place waxed paper under neath for easy clean up. This can get messy!
Use a spoon to lightly glaze the cookies. Top with lavender blossoms. Let the glaze set up and serve.
My last harvest of lavender and almond lavender cookies to celebrate the summer solstice.
One of the simplest ways to use lavender is to simply gather the stalks of lavender and tie with a ribbon. It's best to cut them as soon as the flowers are in bloom in the spring. Cut them a few inches above the woody growth so you won't harm the plant. Gather first thing in the morning after the dew has dried but before the sun becomes intense.
Hang to dry in a cool dark place.
You'll need 6 stalks of lavender
Ribbon - I've been using 3/16 inch lavender satin ribbon for all my projects. It's not too large to over power the lightness of the flowers.
Make two lavender braids using 3 stalks for each braid. When they are braided, bend into a loop. Put the two loops together to form a heart, keeping the flowers on top. Cut off the stems in the back and tie with a ribbon.
12 to 18 stalks of lavender
One egg white, beaten until frothy
1/3 Granulated sugar
Waxed paper or parchment paper
Dip just the flowers of the lavender into the egg whites to completely cover, then dip them into the sugar. Place on waxed paper or parchment paper and let dry away from heat or sun. Use as a garnish with fruit salad, lemonade, or iced tea.
Stir some fresh lavender flowers into your favorite sugar cookie recipe, vanilla ice cream or lemon sherbet.
Cut lavender stems as close to the base as possible. Remove the leaves to use for potpourris or other projects. Gather and loosely tie the flowers at the base with thread. Trim the stalks to an even length.
Begin weaving the ribbon over and under each stalk.
Tuck the end of the ribbon into the stalks to secure it. Gently turn each of the stems over the lavender flowers.
Continue weaving to the base of the flowers.Secure the ribbon in a knot but don't cut it.
Do The Write Thing
Fashion And Fabrics
Lessons From Nature
Pay It Forward
Take The Rose Instead
Mikell is a writer, artist and professional treasure hunter, finding the greatest treasures in the wonderful people who enter her life!