Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My New Favorite All-purpose Cleaner/Sanitizer

When I gave up my bottle of bleach water and began working on getting chlorinated cleaners out of my house, I switched to vinegar water.  I hate the smell of vinegar, love the smell of bleach so this was difficult.  Nothing will ever eradicate the cooties in my house like bleach.  It's an amazing substance for sanitizing surfaces, but vinegar does a pretty good job too.

I thought we would all start getting sick when I finally kicked the bleach bottle habit, but after switching I read that too much bleach can lower our immune systems, especially if it enters our bodies.  Well, as much as I was using, it was certainly entering our bodies through respiration. It can also be absorbed into the body through the skin.  We no longer drank or bathed in chlorinated water, as we had moved to the country and were living on water from a deep well, but by spraying it everywhere, I was overexposing my family to what are believed to be its toxic effects. 

Some studies have shown not only a decrease in immune system strength, but a higher incidence of cancer related to daily chlorinated water use.  It's pretty common knowledge that by trying to kill harmful microbials on the skin, we also destroy the beneficial ones, I wonder what it does internally to the beneficial bacteria that we need to survive.

Vinegar is a good sanitizer because, though it doesn't kill microbials as quickly as chlorine, if left on a surface, it creates a hostile environment for these microscopic critters.  It's the high acid level in vinegar and other acidic natural products such as lemon juice that kills them.  Like bleach, vinegar diluted with water is strong enough to clean and sanitize, but without the harsh smell and caustic nature.  Another benefit is that I don't have to worry about someone leaning on a counter or sink that I've just sprayed with bleach and having their clothes ruined by coming into contact with it.  I don't have to worry about my bottle of vinegar sitting on the counter too close to food products.  I don't have to worry about my children using it either, which is nice now that they've reached the age when they can help clean their own bathroom.

But still...the smell.  Vinegar stinks.  I don't mind it in my red cabbage or over a salad, but I enjoy the smell sprayed all over the house about as much as I'd like the smell of mustard or ketchup spread everywhere.  Yuck.  Well I finally, after years of using vinegar water as my sanitizer, started doing something about it.  I started adding lavender essential oil to my vinegar water solution.  Just a few drops in my spray bottle eliminates the strong smell.  Now everyone who believes that natural cleaning products are a good thing recommends this.  I've never tried it because essential oils are so expensive and I never believed that they could overpower the smell of vinegar and thought it would be a complete waste.  But now that I've been trying it, for about two weeks, I have done the math again and reminded myself that I am still saving hundreds of dollars a year by not buying a different cleaning product for every purpose.  Bleach is not expensive and I was using a lot of it, but I can afford to add my few drops a week of oil to my very inexpensive bottle of vinegar water and I like the smell even better than chlorine.  Another benefit...lavender oil is also anti-microbial!  I get to have my cake and eat it too.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Rain, rain, go away. I have plans on Saturday.

I don't know who I'm complaining to when I gripe about the weather. Mother Nature? Father Time?  The weather man?  God himself?  Always cracks me up to listen to people whine about it no matter what the conditions, and to find myself jumping right in.  It's too hot, it's too cold, too much ice, we need a white Christmas, too windy, no breeze never ends.

Well, even though my flowers and trees are getting a head start on the growing season and the garden is getting saturated ahead of planting time from all the rain we've been getting, I really, really miss the sunny, warm but not too warm, breezy days we were having.  I miss having the windows open and strolling around the property watching everything wake up from winter.  It has rained and stormed and showered and poured for days now and the weatherman seems to have no idea what he's talking about.  A stormy weekend forecast caused me to change our outdoor weekend plans, yet the clouds opened up and dried everything off late Sunday afternoon and we were able to spend the rest of the day outside with a patio fire and Tiki torches lit.  I was even able to get in some gardening.  I'm not complaining about that, it was wonderful.  I am very nervous, however, by the wishy washy weather posts because you never know what to expect when the forecast for these mountains changes daily, even hourly at times.

My boys and I have gone to a lot of trouble to plan an outdoor birthday party for Saturday.  It is supposed to be clear, so they say...  The little guy has changed his mind on a birthday theme from Kirby to Dr. Who to Star Wars and back to Dr. Who.  He finally saw that he was only going to be able to decide which he wanted when he saw what themes of party supplies were stocked at the party store.  When we got there, as I'd predicted, he chose a completely different theme.  All it took was a package of bamboo patterned napkins and a paper pineapple to get him going on a luau theme.  "Are you sure?"  "You're really sure?"  "I can't buy all of this and have you change your mind,  you know."  We were getting later and later for a homeschool meet but I needed to be sure before we bought everything.  He was sure, so a couple of grass skirts (which I will not be wearing, but attatching to the patio umbrella), blow up plastic monkey, shiny, 7' mylar palm tree, plastic leis, Tiki torches, Hawaiian serving trays, green bowl for whale shaped crackers, bubble machine, and treat bags with sea life and amphibian party favors later, we have a party planned. 

I didn't realize until my Hawaiian friend posted on Facebook that she was driving home listening to Hawaiian music how excited my little boy has gotten me about this theme.  We lived in Honolulu for four years and after only a few months were tired of nothing but Hawaiian music on the radio and in every public building we entered.  But the couple of times we attended luaus, we loved it.  It was appropriate.  I didn't even think of music when were planning the party.  I find myself doing internet searches for Hawaiian tunes when I thought I'd never want to hear it again.

So now that the outdoor plans are made, I am really crossing my fingers that the forecast doesn't change.  It just wouldn't be the same to cook Teriyaki Chicken Kabobs on the indoor grill and we certainly can't use the Tiki torches inside.  Is it wrong to pray for silly things like clear skies?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

All I had to say was "Fettuccine Alfredo".

This husband of mine is not like other men in so many ways, thank goodness!  I don't have to put up with sports obsessions, nights out "with the guys", an excessive amount of male chauvinism (not and excessive amount), or the inflated sense of self that I see in other men.  He has never been one to jump in and help with things around the house, but he's always done anything I've asked as a "favor" like he's giving me a present which usually leaves me feeling resentful rather than feeling appreciative.  But it has all worked itself out after 18 yrs. of being best friends.  It's been a long marriage already, and it hasn't been an easy couple of decades.  We have been through so many changes, none of them too rough, but changes which have finally brought us to such a mellow place in our relationship.
When I hear other people tell of their marriage troubles I say, "Have his gallbladder removed, I'm convinced, somehow, that it's where the male ego is housed."  That's because the even tempo of our marriage began after my husband had his removed.  Of course it wasn't really because that organ was removed, it was as a result of a combination of many things.  The first was that even though he is generally a mild tempered man, he felt so much better after having surgery and having that problem suddenly gone, nausea and pain-free for the first time in years, that his tolerance for everything was greater.  Secondly, it was the first time since we have had children that I was able to set everything aside, knowing my children were old enough to understand that there was a need to take the focus off of them for a while, and simply take care of him.  He'd had complications from what should have been a routine, out-patient procedure and after two extra days in the hospital they let me take him home while he was still recovering from a punctured liver and pneumonia.  I hadn't had much time to fret over him in the previous years and most of the time I was so busy and exhausted from parenting and searching for myself that I didn't really want to worry about him, to be honest.  He was a grown man, he could take care of himself and I was working, homeschooling, and trying to raise two little boys into men.  That was my mentality.  When I look back, I don't like it, but I don't know if I could have manged any other way.  I had to be a perfect mom, I had to work and be true to myself, I had to help contribute to our bank accounts.  I didn't seem to care that I didn't have to be the perfect wife.  I actually said to myself, that something had to give somewhere and it couldn't be my parenting or my job.  I could pull off almost all of it.
Well, you get out of anything what you put in.  Our marriage was "fine", and anything it needed could wait until later.  I didn't feel like he was making any attempt to improve things so I didn't have the energy to either, but secretly I was reading and researching anything I could get my hands on to figure out how to fix myself and my husband because I knew we just weren't happy.
So many things happened at once around the time of the surgery, that I am just now able to start looking back on it thinking, "What the heck just happened?!!"  One stinging slap in the face after another is what I needed for an attitude readjustment and my husband followed right along behind me.  It was crazy.  I was there for him, giving and worrying and loving like I never had before, then after a major change in my personal life with my family, good and bad, he was there for me giving and loving.  He was just there.  I was just there. 
At the same time I was discovering what was "wrong" with me and why I had so many strange quirks.  I stumbled upon a term for the kind of person I am and realized I am "Highly Sensitive".  So is my husband and because it can be hereditary, so are our children.  It was amazing to discover, and has changed all of our lives.  I can parent better, be a better wife, and for the first time, I know how to take care of me too.  We don't talk about it much these days and my older boy refuses to be labeled.  I try not to, but just relax in the knowledge that I have some inkling of what's going on with his feelings and understand his needs and likes and dislikes at the age he is because, even though I was a girl, I remember so vividly how painful it was to be that age and sensitive.  I will never forget the day a teacher said it when I was in the 7th grade.  He said I was "sensitive" in front of the whole class and for the first time it wasn't an accusation or someone pinpointing a flaw in me like close family members had done, it was simply a statement of fact, and he said it with kindness and understanding.  It was a crazy moment that I have never forgotten. 
So after all of these changes that have made a new me, a new husband, and a new family dynamic that was pretty darn good to begin with, I am still amazed at the little things that go on between this man and me.  We just move around side by side through life now, doing the things that need to be done, helping each other when we need help, encouraging and listening better than ever.  Knowing that we are more alike for our sensitivity than we have ever known before, helps each of us understand when the other person is stressed and overstimulated; that it's just that the other person is overwhelmed by something when they are not in the best mood, not that one of us has done something offensive. We still hit speed bumps that slow us down and some days we really just don't like each other, but then there's a sweet smile or tease and we roll on through life. 
I was reminded of all of this by a simple exchange between us this morning.  It changed my whole day and makes me laugh.  I had been planning to use the wild cherry tree wood that has been drying all winter after we pruned our wild cherry tree, to smoke a pork loin for my cooking blog.  A rainy weekend had forced me to change my plans.  Already knowing the answer, I said to my husband, "Okay, no smoked pork loin, but I have Fettuccine Alfredo and Manicotti planned for the blog this week.  Which do you want for dinner?"  His face lit up like I said I'd won the lottery.  Fettuccine Alfredo is one of his favorites, but I only make it about once a year because it's so fattening.  I don't think I've made it since his surgery because his body needed to learn to metabolize fats again.  None of the other high fat dishes I've made in the last 3 mos. for the blog have seemed to bother him, so I decided it was time to go for it.  My, how helpful he's been since we had that conversation!  Marriage is not supposed to be about points.  You aren't supposed to keep score.  But it sure is funny, that that's exactly how it works.  There's no way around it for us lowly humans.

Here is a HSP link that I love.  Just FYI.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Stop the Clock!!

My first son was born a week early.  Wonderful surprise.  My second little boy was born a day late.  I was so upset when I passed his due date, like it was all over and there wasn't going to be a baby afterall, but there he was the very next day, a bouncing baby boy.  He has yet to quit bouncing.

He is sick with a cold right now that has left the other three of us feeling droopy and lethargic, has it slowed him down?  Nope.  Do I mind?  Nope.  Does he ever stop smiling or trying to make me laugh.  Nope!

There are 54 minutes left before he turns 11 and I don't know where the time has gone.  Everyone says that.  All parents feel that, but I really, really don't know how it could have gone so fast.  The boys love to freak me out and tell me how many years they have left until they are grown and moving away, like they will be leaving by the end of their 18th birthdays.  Cake, presents, out the door?  I sure hope not.  I can hardly stand the thought of it.  I will be the worst empty-nester there ever was.

So as the clock ticks away and I am struggling to keep from waking the little guy up so I can hold him while it turns into tomorrow, I wish I could turn the clock back or take a hammer to it, giving me more time.

The March Winds Are Blowing Spring to My Front Door.

It's here!  Spring has sprung and after being frozen over for the third year in a row and sitting with a stupid out of whack back for most of 2011 from stepping in a hole on a snowy hike, I am ready!!  The yard is waking up.  Nectarine and Quince, Ann Magnolia, Forsythia, Daffodils, Jonquils, Grape pretty it almost hurts my eyes! 

Ann Magnolia blossom.

Nectarine blossoms with a Forsythia flower that my son tucked between the blooms.
Forsythia or Yellow Bells as my stepmother calls of my favorite first signs of spring!  This is the most impressive this little guy has ever looked. 
Daffodils growing wild on the hill.
The rose bushes all have new growth.  Even the three climbing Peace roses I planted on the first day of spring to grow against the privacy fence are already shooting up.  The climbing roses I planted last year to grow up and over the old well have already begun to climb.  Now, if I can just keep them alive this year, aphid-free, and black spotless...

Butterflies on the butterfly bush, honeybees in the nectarine blossoms, bumble bees hanging in the air like mini zeppelins.  Time to head to Great Smoky National Park for my annual Trillium hunt.  Then it will be time for the wildflower pilgrimage that will last into the summer. 

My seeds are ready to be sprouted inside, a whole garden on the windowsill of my potting shed waiting to feed us until fall.  Back is strong and getting stronger, ready for months of hoeing. The girls have worked hard scratching around the farmyard getting the soil fluffed for planting and dropping too many eggs for us to eat.  The rabbits have given us such a large compost pile of natural fertilizer this winter that I'll have to grow some carrots and parsnips to thank them.

So, with the March winds blowing through the house, I hurry to finish my chores so I can go outside to play.  Had to stop and show my appreciation for the beauty that's popping up all around. 
Happy Spring!!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Confessions of a Small Town Hoe'r

So, I'm really, really hoping to make this little farm and farm house as green as I can.  Wind generators, rain barrels, recycled EVERYTHING...the whole nine yards.  Over the past few months, however, I've started to slide backwards for one reason or another.  I feel guilty posting about healthy, green living when I seem to add another chemical to my daily life every few weeks. And yesterday I realized, as I was standing in line at the grocery store watching the clerk place my purchases in bag after plastic, land fill clogging bag, that I have yet to use my reusable grocery bags this year.  I made a pledge two years ago to quit bringing them in the house.  As pennance for the times I forgot to pack my reusable bags or made an unexpected trip to the store while I was out and didn't have them with me, I spent hours last year ironing the ones that did make it home into reusable sheets of plastic which I sewed into more reusable grocery bags and still I forget to put them in the van.  But not only have I backslidden with the bags, there are unnatural chemicals in the house again until I can find suitable replacements.  Here is my list of confessions and the things I need to work on and what I am doing to change things back again.

1. Bleach containing dishwasher detergent--  Okay, this one was hard because I LOVE bleach and the smell of chlorine.  As a professional cook, when I'm working I nearly always have a bottle of bleach water near me or a bleach water soaked rag next to any station I'm working on.  I refuse to let any customers get sick from cross contamination on my watch.  I did the same at home.  If my kitchen didn't smell like bleach at all times I thought I was a bad housewife and mother and didn't want anything but that "clean" smell in the house.  I bleached my counter tile grout every day and washed my vinyly floors in bleach every day.  Well, the first thing to go when I went chemical free was dishwasher detergent.  I started using borax and vinegar or baking soda and vinegar and we had to replace the dw soon after.  It was old, but my husband was convinced that I had killed it.  I used only Seventh Generation dw detergent for two years, but not long after we installed the new dw we noticed it didn't dry very well.  It got to the point that I was scrubbing traces of mildew from parts of the interior every two days.  I did this for two yrs.  I homeschool, garden...after a few months of having a new puppy in the house and all that is involved with staying on top of him and the holidays coming, I caved...I don't have time to be scrubbing the inside of my dw.  Back to bleach containing dw detergent.  Did the trick.  But I snitch and use it, because of the bleach I love so much, here and there.  I'm like an addict who can't even have a little of what I'm addicted to.  My dw detergent has bleach but is phosphate free.  Still, I wish I could find a better solution.  Hubby's in the middle of checking it out right now, so maybe he'll be able to fix it and I can go back to Seventh Generation.

2. Deodorant-- I have tried and tried to find a natural deodorant for my family that actually works.  I use them during the week when I'm home to try them out, but always end up using the toxic stuff when I go out "just to be safe".  I have just tried Thai spray deodorant and have been using it for a couple of weeks.  It's made with the same salt that the natural deodorant stones are made of, which I have never tried, and works amazingly well.  It's still cool though, so I'm not getting my hopes up until summer when I will let my teenager really put it to the test.

3. Soap-- Switched to Dr. Bronner's almost 3 yrs. ago.  I love, love, love it!  I use the liquid diluted all over the house and now I'm not happy if everything doesn't smell like lavender all the time now that I've let the bleach obsession go, for the most part.  We use solid for bathing and shampoo.  I noticed though, that I was getting raw, red skin on my face with rough patches a few years ago.  I starte using only coconut oil for moisturizer and it was working to keep the redness minimized.  I had been suspecting that I was getting rosacea for the last five yrs. or so, but last year my face changed completely.  I wasn't actually diagnosed with rosacea, but a few weeks ago my chiropractor agreed that it looks like that's what is going on.  He suggested I see a dermatologist and go on antibiotics.  That makes no sense to me right now because rosacea is a permanent skin condition so I wonder what will happen when the round is over.  As the daughter of a chiropractor having grown up with natural remedies and very little medical intervention, I am opposed to the overuse of antibiotics.  Also, I have been on two forms of antibiotics and ended up being allergic to both so am really not ready to try again.  I am trying all the natural remedies I can first.  I ended up switching back to Dove moisturizing soap for my face only and have noticed, along with the use of lavender and jojoba oils, a huge change already.  Feeling hopeful, but also looking for a suitable chemical free alternative to the soap.

3. Makeup-- I've been using natural makeup during the time that I noticed the rosacea starting which hasn't helped my skin.  Someone told me to try mineral makeup which contains titanium dioxide which is thought to help with rosacea, so I bought a cheap version from a dept. store to see how it did.  I really like it, but now that I've done a trial run, I will use this entire system up and then buy a completely natural version.

4. Toothpaste--  I was buying an organic toothpaste in an attempt to use SLS free products on our skin.  After about a year I finally read the ingredients list and saw that it contained SLS also.  At $4 a tube, I promptly went back to the usual stuff.

5. Paint--  I'm a paint addict.  I have painted my kitchen almost every year since we moved in.  I keep a gallon of glossy white handy in the cupboard under the kitchen sink for frequent molding and door repainting.  I have yet to switch to low VOC.

6. Spray foam insulation--  We bought a drafty old farmhouse that was in the midst of renovation when we moved in.  I use this toxic stuff everywhere and have almost gotten us to the point where every little nook and cranny has been filled and trim placed over top.  Not quite, but almost.  I love this stuff so much I won't even research it to see how toxic it is.

7. Mexican Bean Beetles-- I hate these things.  I love summer squash.  I can eat an omelette with yellow squash in it every day and used to when I lived low-carb.  These rotten little pests can wipe out my squash garden in two days.  I tried every natural insecticidal soap I could find through researching over the last two growing season and was only able to slow them down.  I dont' know what I'm going to do this year.  If I can't find an organic solution before planting time, I'm grabbing a bottle of insecticidal soap from the home improvement center that I always see that claims to be environmentally friendly.  I don't trust it, but I can't stand to sit by and watch all of my hard work shrivel up and die another year.

8. Roses-- they are gorgeous in the spring but as soon as those stupid Japanese Beetles start to hatch that's the end of them. I haven't used chemicals on them, but like with the bean beetles, I predict I will be giving up this year and using something not so Earth-friendly on them.  We'll see.  More research for natural remedies first.

9.  Paraffin candle wax--  Gave up paraffin candles a few years ago, then two of my closest friends started selling Scentsy warmers and wax.  I love the smell of laundry detergent and really miss it since I started making my own.  I had bought a candle yrs. ago called clean cotton or something that smelled just like laundry detergent.  When I found out there was a Scentsy scent that was supposed to smell the same way I decided to go ahead and try it.  The warmer uses an incandescent bulb which is not good and the wax is made  from paraffin, but it's not being burned and released into the air so I am not too worried about it.  An added bonus...I can warm lavender essential oil and other oils in it!!

So there they are my confessions.  My gardening break is done...going back out to continue weeding because I refuse to use weed killer. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


I was making myself a healthy salad for lunch that included hummus.  I love using hummus on sandwiches and on salad in place of mayonnaise and fatty dressings.  I am not fond of beans, really, so hummus is a tasty way for me to get in those legumes.  As I was making my salad I was thinking about a spring detox and how my spring mix resembled dandelion leaves.  It will soon be time to hunt young leaves to detox from winter.  I was adding green onions and wheat germ and all the things that can be used for digestive and parasite cleansing.  My son asked what it was in the little bowl I was holding.  I said, "hummus."  He said, "Hummicide!!" is his dramatic pre-teen way.  I laughed so hard.  It wasn't until I was eating the salad that I realized how true his funny little statement was. 
I honestly didn't know until five years or so ago that humans have parasites.  It had never occurred to me and the topic is so abominable that I won't even let myself think about it too much and I will not write in detail about this horrible plague on mammals, but I have done lots of research on the topic and began to include anti-parasitic foods into my family's regular diet shortly after hearing this information.  We have tried actual herbal parasite cleansing systems in the past, but I still try to include foods that are believed to eliminate parasites from the system. 
Parsley is one of the foods that help eliminate and prevent infection, so is garlic and coconut oil.  I use fresh parsley like greens in the summer when my garden is overflowing with tall parsley bunches that look more like bright green shrubs, I grow them so closely together.  The strong flavor takes a little getting used to but the added health benefits are worth it. 
My hummus is made from garbanzo beans and contains raw garlic.  Beans contain fiber which helps scrub the intestines clean which aids in parasite cleansing.  Garlic is a natural anti-parasitic food.  So, indeed, my lunch was a form of "hummicide" and now that I and my family will be spending more time outside with the weather warming up, more frequent forms of "hummicide" will help us stay bug free and healthy.

Hummicidal Salad
2 cups spring mix
1 whole tomato, large dice
3 T green bell pepper, small dice
1/4 green onions sliced thinly
1/2 c. fresh, Italian flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup hummus
3 T wheat germ

3 slices fresh pineapple on the side.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tips for Natural Cleaning

There are many alternatives to commercially prepared, chemical based cleaners. You may be surprised to find many useful cleaning agents already in your refrigerator or pantry. By using these natural products you can save money and reduce the amount of possibly harmful substances that you use around your home.
Baking soda is a wonderful product to use in place of harsh abrasive cleaners and as a food substance, is safe for food contact surfaces. Just sprinkle a small amount on a damp cloth to make a paste and use it to scrub stubborn stains on Formica counter tops. This technique also works well on any other nonporous, unpainted or sealed finish.
Spray a vinegar water solution on all surfaces of a stainless steel sink basin and faucet, then follow with a sprinkling of baking soda. With a damp cloth polish the metal and rinse well for a chemical free shine. A vinegar and baking soda paste works well to deodorize and kill germs on many other surfaces such as wastepaper baskets, bathroom surfaces, and carpet stains. This mixture is also a wonderful copper polish and can work wonders on the bottom of pans and baking dishes that become discolored when frequently used. Combined with lemon juice, baking soda works in the same manner, but leaves the fresh scent of lemon behind.
For very bright whites, wash them in half a cup of baking soda with half a cup of vinegar in very hot water rather than toxic chlorine bleach. Your clothes will be fresh and clean and with the use of vinegar and baking soda there is no danger of yellowing which can sometimes occur when bleach is used.
Another way in which baking soda and vinegar can be used is as a mild drain cleaner. It probably won't remove tough hair clogs in the bathroom, but baking soda poured down the drain followed by a generous amount of vinegar can keep grimy kitchen drains running clear. Follow with a few gallons of boiling water and see if you don't spend less time and money keeping those pipes free flowing.
Salt, an abrasive natural cleaner, can be used to clean coffee stains from the inside of a coffee carafe. Sprinkle in a little, followed by a handful of ice cubes and swirl until the stains are buffed off. Rinse thoroughly before using. Basic table salt can also be used with lemon juice and vinegar in the same way that baking soda can be used.
Vinegar and lemon juice have been used as deodorizers and are claimed to be good, natural germ killers as well. It is probably the high acid content in these liquids that convinces people that they can destroy microbes. You can use them full-strength or diluted as an all purpose cleaner on most surfaces. Because of the caustic effect of these acids, however, it is probably not a good idea to use them on wood and painted surfaces.
Try using vinegar the next time you clean your outdoor grill. Allow the rack to cool a bit, but while still hot, spray on a vinegar water solution before brushing with a wire grill brush. Plain vinegar poured on a hot stainless steel, flat top griddle works very well to degrease the surface.
Try other natural products to see how well you think they clean. Our ancestors did not have chemical solutions prepared in factories to depend on for household cleaning. Why should we?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Lavender, a Calming Herb

The vibrant, purple buds of the lavender plant are one of the most uniquely scented in the classification of herbs. Used for culinary as well as medicinal purposes throughout history, this delicate looking plant continues to be a favorite among gardeners and alternative medicine advocates.

Lavender was used by the Egyptians as a perfume and as part of the mummification ritual. The Greeks and Romans also used lavender as a perfume and for bathing and cooking.

The aroma that comes from the flowers and even the leaves of the lavender plant is said to have calming properties. Sprinkle some of the flowers under running bath water for a soothing aromatherapy treatment. Dab a little pure lavender essential oil onto a handkerchief to have at the ready during stressful situations for an instant balm to ruffled emotions.

The buds of organic lavender can be used in cooking. Make a delicious cup of hot tea by steeping them in boiling water. An aromatic sachet can be made with the petals and other herbs to be used in pastry cooking and even as a flavoring agent for savory meats. Try making lavender sugar by infusing cane sugar with the scent and flavor of this delicate flower. Add a bit of lavender to a cup of sugar and seal tightly. Allow to sit in a cool dark place for two weeks. Use in whipped cream as a topping for desserts, in teas, or in creme anglaise for a flavor infused version of this delicate custard.

Tie a bundle of flowering lavender stems into a pretty bouquet with a silk ribbon and hang from the rod of your closet or wardrobe to keep clothing smelling nice. A sachet made from dried lavender can be tucked into dresser drawers for the same effect. Every time you open the door or drawer, the calming aroma of lavender will surround you.