Making Potpourri from Your Garden – Part IV of VII

Potpourri      Decorative Potpourri


Blending fragrant combinations of botanicals to make one predominant scent — or mood is the goal. Always concoct potpourris in a well-ventilated place, so that you will not be overcome by the overwhelming scents! 


When mixing a potpourri from a recipe or formula, always measure and weigh botanicals, beginning with the heaviest materials: barks, roots, spices; then add the lighter, more delicate flowers and leaves for texture, by gently combining and stirring, to combine. Adding the fixative which helps to hold the fragrance, generally calculated at 15-25%, based on weight of the blend, is the next step. Using an eyedropper, add 1/2 essential oils called for in the formula, stirring and analyzing the fragrance — is more needed to achieve the desired scent? Adjust accordingly.


When blending is completed, place potpourri in a glass container with a non-reactive lid. Store potpourri in a cool, dry, dark place for two weeks. This aging process allows all the different fragrances in the potpourri to blend. Remember: you cannot ruin a potpourri blend — alter the fragrance by adding more botanicals and/or oils.


Making Potpourri from Your Garden – Part III of VII

Potpourri        Simmering Potpourri


Designed originally for use on woodstoves, simmering potpourris used in this way, help fragrance and add moisture to the air. Most often this type of potpourri is placed in electric simmering crockpots or candle-heated simmer pots. Usually, simmering potpourris can be reused more than once, if drained and allowed to air dry after use; add water again, to repeat process.


With a few adjustments in botanical selections, simmering potpourri is made in the same way as decorative blends. Selected mainly for fragrance: flowers, fragrant seeds, herbs, spices, essential oils are used. 

Making Potpourri from Your Garden – Part II of VII

Potpourri     Potpourri: A Beautiful Blend


Potpourri is a blend of fragrant botanical materials comprised of barks, flowers, gums, resins, roots, seeds, and woods, which if properly blended, and the scent is allowed to fully develop before setting out, will retain its fragrance for months. Great personal gifts for friends, home uses for potpourri are endless — scenting closets, cupboards, stationery; adding a scented touch to any room, displayed in baskets, bowls, or other containers. Some special blends repel moths.


There are two methods to prepare potpourri:


The dry method is a blend of  crisp, dry, scented botanical materials, combined for scent as well as appearance.


The moist method: includes fresh scented materials, which ferment in crocks for a period of weeks, before setting out.

Making Potpourri from Your Garden – Part I of VII

Potpourri       Crafting with Botanicals: Potpourri 

Another way to enjoy the harvest of your garden, yard, and other wildcrafted findings, hand-blended potpourris add another dimension to everyday life, make your surroundings truly ‘scent-imental’…



      Herbal Legend and Lore: Fragrant Beginnings


Use of fragrance and botanical materials dates back to 6,000 BC, as evidenced by the excavated tombs in ancient Egypt, records kept recounting trade routes and practices and archeological discoveries in cities of long ago. Reserved primarily for religious rituals in the temple, aromatic annointing oils, incense, and scented unguents were created by Egyptian priests.


The oldest and most reliable account of world history, the Bible, recounts the use of herbs, spices, incense and annointing oils. The Hebrews learned the use of perfume products from the Egyptians, burning incense with their sacrifices, and using annointing oils as part of their rituals. Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Muslums, Shintoists, incorporate scents into their ceremonies, rituals and worship.


Cleopatra (1st century, BC), used fragrance extravagantly, was skilled and knowledgeable about their allure. Famous for extravagance, Roman emperors had saffron spraying from fountains, and used as a strewing herb — imagine the fragrance! Nero (1st century, AD) had flowers raining from his state dining room ceiling, with silver pipes hidden in the walls, which sprayed perfume on guests.


Between 11th to14th centuries, the use of fragrant botanicals spread to Europe and
England. Much of this “new” knowledge and practices were brought home by the Crusaders. Regular trade routes were were established, and these fragrant materials were traded in Arabia, Assyria, China, Greece, Egypt, Israel, Persia, and
Rome. Wars broke out, in order to protect or obtain these invaluable trade routes.


Elizabeth I, Queen of England (1558-1603), enjoyed fresh-strewn herbs and retained a woman on salary, to provide in-season materials. Additionally, she hired a husband-wife “team” to prepare her distillations. Techniques of distillation and enfluerage were well-known, by this time in herbal history, and an industrious woman could establish a garden, dry materials for sachets and potpourri, distill toilet waters and essences from garden-grown fragrant materials. Essential oils were extracted from plants, more delicate flowers were steeped in oil or wine, to release their scents. Use of pure alcohol to create perfumes was not a practice yet.


Perfumed oils were used in bathing rituals, as soap was nonexistant. The ritual: after soaking in a hot bath, oils were massaged on, then scraped, along with dirt and impurities, leaving a fragrance. These fragrances acted as detergents, deodorant and insecticides!


Herbal extracts were used not only for bathing, but also home keeping – furniture and floor polishing, strewn herbs to deter pests, and as fragrant seats. Herbs chosen for these applications:  basil, chamomile, hyssop, lavender, marjoram, rosemary, rue, sage, southernwood, sweet flag, tansy, thyme, woodruff, wormwood.


From the early days of herbal history, herbs were used for medicinal purposes. To prevent disease, often pomanders were made up of various herbs, such as: ambergris, benzoin, cassia, cloves, musk, and orris.

Create A Scent-imental Home Using Herbs & Flowers

Vic VioletsnRoses       Use the herbs and flowers from your garden in new ways! 

Fresh herbal arrangements add a special touch to the dinner table.

Tie sprigs onto napkins with a pretty bow or simple raffia.

Fresh cut flowers and herbal bouquets make a simple, thoughtful gift.

Save the herb stems after you strip off the leaves to be used. Let the stems dry; bundle them up and set them near the fireplace, to add an herbal aroma to your winter fires — or — use them when you grill out, for a flavorful touch.

Herbal Inspirations for a Scent-imental Home

Vic VioletsnRoses     HERBAL INSPIRATIONS: Easy Ideas to Enhance Your Home & Life with Herbs! 

Here are some easy ideas to add touches of grace to your home and life with all things herbal ~ Enjoy!

A few ideas to create a scent-imental home using essential oils: 

Diffuse the fragrance in a room by placing a drop on the lightbulb of a strategically located lamp – or for continued scenting, use a ceramic lamp ring, an aroma fan or plug-in scent ball.

For drawers, cupboards and more areas — dot some onto a cotton ball and rub inside drawers (or use a scented terracotta aroma stone), sofa and table underside; air conditioner grill (use a cotton swab); a few drops onto pine cones, to toss in when starting a winter fire.

All around your home — make your own room freshener with a few drops mixed with water, in a small spray bottle. Scent your sheets this way, too!

Add a few drops to laundry rinse water, to fragrance linens and lingerie.

Refragrance your potpourri.

Mother’s Day Herbal

Vic VioletsnRoses        Mother’s Day Herbal  Herbs for Mother’s Day & Other Special Women in Your Life: Mother’s Day History, Traditions, Recipes & Mother’s Day Creed

Long before Anna Jarvis helped to institute America’s observation of “Mother’s Day, ” the English were already remembering their mothers on “Mothering Sunday,” as known as Simnel Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent, dating back to the Middle Ages. This was the day the young apprentices and servants were permitted to return to their home villages, visiting their mothers on annual holiday leave. The Lenten fast was allowed to be broken on this day, and the children (usually the eldest son) took their mothers a spiced confection called “Simnel Cake.” The recipe for this cake varies by district, so there are many versions!

                                          Simnel Cake 

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

2 cups unbleached flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup currants

1/4 cup candied fruit peel, finely ground

8 ounces almond paste

Confectioner’s sugar

Optional: Candied violets, or marzipan fruits, to garnish


Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Cream butter and sugar together, until fluffy. Beat eggs in one at a time. Sift together flour and salt, separating into 3 parts; then blend each part into the egg-butter-sugar mixture. Lightly mixing, fold in currants and candied fruit peel.


Prepare an 8-10-inch cake pan, by greasing it, and lining it with waxed paper or greased parchment. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Between 2 sheets of waxed paper, roll out half of the almond paste into a circle; remove top sheet of waxed paper, and place on top of batter, remove remaining waxed paper sheet. Pour remaining batter on top of almond paste layer. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the cake begins to pull away slightly from the side of the pan. Remove from oven.


Roll out remainder of almond paste as before, and place on top of cake. Return to oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and allow cake to cool on rack for 30 minutes. When cooled, run knife around edge of cake pan, to remove the cake. Sprinkle cake top with confectioner’s sugar, and decorate with candied violets or marzipan fruit.


Candied Fruit Peel: may be made by cutting oranges, lemons and limes, into long strips; place on cookie sheets. Sugar Glaze: in a heavy saucepan, dissolve 2 cups of sugar in 1/2 cup water, stir over medium heat until mixture is clear; cover, increase heat, bringing to a rapid boil; uncover and allow to boil 3 more minutes. Brush fruit peel with glaze. After glaze dries, chop glazed fruit peel in food processor.


Candied Violets: may be made by brushing washed and dried freshly-picked violets with powdered egg white (prepared according to package directions), applied with a small clean paintbrush. Place completely coated flowers on a wire rack, and lightly sprinkle with sugar. Once candied violets are completely dried (2-3 hours), embellish your Simnel Cake!


(NOTE: Be sure your violets or other edible flowers have not been sprayed or treated with chemicals of any kind, and are pesticide-free.)



            Click here for Mother’s Day American History, Traditions & Mother’s Day Creed


Making Cosmetics and Preparations Using Herbs from Your Garden

scntd ger          Herban Renewal: Spa Recipes from Your Graden 

Anytime is a great time for personal renewal. Throughout the ages, herbs have been known for their refreshing and restorative qualities. Here are some wonderfully nurturing herbal spa recipes to enjoy…



Create your own personally-scented moisturizer with a drop or two of essential oil to unscented moisturizer.


Create your own personal massage blend for body, facial, foot & leg, by adding 3-5 drops of your favorite essential oil to 1 ounce of Sweet Almond oil.




Baths & Showers:


Enjoy an aromatic bath by adding 3 – 15 drops (depending upon oil) of essential oil into the running bath water.  (Not safe for children – for adults only-!)





Refreshing foot bath:


Add 2 to 3 drops essential oil to hot water; soak feet 10 – 20 minutes.


We recommend a Tea Tree and Lavender blend!





In the Shower ~


Place 2-3 drops of essential oil on bathing sponge or wash cloth, to rub over body.





To bath water, add 5 drops rosemary oil and 2 drops lavender oil.





Combine in a drawstring muslin bath bag 1/4 cup each dried rosemary and sage, with 2 Tbs. oatmeal; ~OR~ Place fresh rosemary clippings (in a muslin bath bag), under the bathtub faucet.




Peppermint-Rosemary Facial Steam

To one gallon of boiling water — cooled slightly before adding — 4 drops each of peppermint and rosemary essential oils. Taking care in not burning yourself with the steam, cover your head with a towel, holding face over bowl for 10 minutes.




Rosemary Apple Cider After-Shampoo Rinse


2 sprigs fresh rosemary     1 Cup apple cider vinegar    3 Cups warm water


Chop rosemary, and place into glass jar; fill with apple cider vinegar, and store in a cool, dark place for one week, shaking it daily. Strain out rosemary, returning liquid to jar. To use: dilute  1/3 cup rinse with 3 cups warm water; into damp, freshly shampooed hair, taking care not to get it in your eyes. Rinse thoroughly and dry hair.

Making Cosmetics and Preparations Using Herbs from Your Garden

scntd ger    An Introduction to Making Preparations from the Garden Using Herbs to Make Cosmetics & Toiletries 

There are many ways to enjoy using herbs, and crafting cosmetics with them is one way to not only discover their delights, but also to derive the benefits intrinsic to the plant properties through use. Fresh or dried organic herbs and essential oils of the highest quality you can find, are recommended for these applications.


Enjoying the herbal benefits, along with the fact that the homemade formulations may be made to address specific health needs, the finished product may be much purer than similar purchased commercially made preparations, and with little no chemicals and additives. As we all live in a very “chemical” world today, this is the goal for many of us  who choose the herbal ways. Natural and organic in origin — with the finished product as close to the original ingredients which comprise it.



There are several ways to make herbal cosmetic preparations:


* Infused Oils                         *Essential Oils

*Salves                                   *Herbal Steams & Compresses

*Creams & Lotions                *Herbal Baths

*Other Skincare Items            *Hair & Nail Care


Based on desired results, and your research into the herbs called for in selected recipes, the first step is to gather fresh plants for processing into cosmetics.

Lemon Grass Recipes for a Dazzling Dinner

Lemon Grass  Stir-fried Chicken with Lemongrass 

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced crosswise, into 1/4″ thick strips

1 Tbs. thinly sliced lemongrass

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh ginger

1 tsp. fish sauce

1 tsp. rice wine vinegar

2 tsp. cornstarch

1 Tbs. peanut oil

1/2 cup chicken (or vegetarian broth)

1 tsp. soy sauce (or teriyaki sauce)

1 tsp. dark sesame oil

1 bunch green onions (scallions), cut into 1″ lengths

freshly-ground pepper, and kosher salt (to taste)

sesame seeds, for garnish

Combine and let stand 15 minutes, in a bowl: chicken, lemongrass, garlic, ginger. fish sauce, vinegar, cornstarch.

Over high heat, warm peanut oil in a wok, until merely smoking. Add chicken, stir-fry until lightly golden, and opaque, about 2-3 minutes. Add broth, soy sauce, and sesame oil; cook, stirring 1 minute. Add onions; cook, stirring about 1 minute.

Season with salt and pepper (to taste), transfer to warmed platter, garnishing with sesame seeds.

Serves 4.  

                   Serve with cooked Jasmine Rice, and a simple green salad!

Fruit Salad with Lemon Grass Syrup 

Watermelon and Honeydew Melon, cut into large chunks

1/2 small Pineapple, cut into large pieces

1 Mango, cubed

1 pint Strawberries, cleaned, hulled, halved

1/4 cup fresh Mint sprigs

Place fruit and mint in a bowl, mixing gently. Pour the Lemon Grass Syrup over the fruit, and refrigerate until chilled. Serves 4.

   Lemon Grass Syrup 

   1/2 cup Lime juice

   1/4 cup soft brown sugar

   1 stem Lemon Grass: thinly slice white part only

   2 Tb grated fresh Ginger

   1 Vanilla Bean split

To make syrup, place the lime juice, sugar, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan, and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the Lemon Grass, Ginger, and Vanilla Bean. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, simmering for 15 minutes, or until reduced. Remove Vanilla Bean before pouring over Fruit Salad.  

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