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Mediterranean Herb Pot Idea



An interesting and creative idea for your garden is to plant herb in containers that have a distinct Mediterranean style instead of ordinary plant pots. Italian tomato paste, sauce, puree, whole and crushed tomato cans make great small to medium sized pots. For larger pots you can use Greek and Italian olive oil cans. They can be found in supermarkets and specialty stores.

Another good idea is to use cans of stuffed grape leaves, a Mediterranean specialty. These cans also come in different sizes. You can find the smaller ones in regular supermarkets, but Greek specialty food stores carry larger sizes.



A collection of these various colorful cans in their different sizes make a really creative and attractive Mediterranean herb garden. And they don’t even require that much space which is great if you don’t have a large backyard. The cans can be arranged on patios, balconies, and even window sills for a charming little Mediterranean flavored garden. Even with limited space, I had a cute little arrangement of Mint, Oregano, Basil, and Rosemary in an assortment of stuffed grape leaf cans and tomato paste cans on my window sill in my apartment in New York. Mediterranean herbs are both fragrant and delicious. They give wonderful flavor to sauces, marinades, salads, fish, poultry, pastas, etc., and can even be used to flavor butter, oil, vinegar, teas, and other beverages. Some of the most popular Mediterranean herbs are Thyme, Basil, Oregano, Bay Leaf, Rosemary, Lavender, Sage, Marjoram, Parsley, and Mint. I planted Oregano in my crushed tomatoes can in the photo above.

To use them, empty out the contents, remove the tops with a can opener and wash them out. Punch drainage holes on the bottom with nails and a hammer and put in your soil just as you would a regular plant pot. You can apply clear varnish to the outside of the cans to prevent them from rusting and also to protect the pretty and colorful can labels. Be very careful of the sharp edges after you remove the top of the cans, especially when you’re washing them out and also planting your herbs. For protection, you can try putting heavy duty masking tape on the inside edges of the cans to cover those sharp tin edges.


Lavender Dessert Recipes

While we all know that lavender is fantastic in crafts like potpourri, soap, sachets, and bath products, it is also edible and is a great addition to many recipes. This wonderful aromatic herb has a distinct flavor and should be used lightly because it is quite strong. It’s flavoring goes particularly well with recipes using ingredients like cream, milk, and sugar, so it makes a great addition to baking recipes.

Explore your creative side and satisfy your sweet tooth with these great dessert recipes using lavender.


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Lavender Macarons – Plant Food Fabulous



healthy lavender cheesecake

Healthy Lavender Cheesecake – Pie’s Recipe



Lavender Ice Cream

Lavender Ice Cream – AllRecipes



Lavender-Biscuits4

Lavender Shortbread Biscuits – Take Stock Magazine



Strawberry Lavender Buttermilk Cake

Strawberry & Lavender Buttermilk Cake – SweetaPolita



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Lavender & Peach Cake – Tatyana’s



Lavender Cupcakes

Lavender Cupcakes – Jessie Next Door


*When buying lavender to use in recipes, make sure it is culinary lavender. The lavender that is sold to be used in crafts like potpourri and sachets is sometimes chemically treated, so make sure you are using lavender that is safe to eat.




Book Recommendation: The Herbal Home Companion



The Herbal Home Companion by Theresa Loe is a handy and delightful book not just for herb lovers and crafters, but for anyone willing to explore the pleasures of herbs. From growing them to harvesting them and using them for cooking and crafts, you will find lots of practical and useful information.


This beautifully illustrated book contains a section with information about 35 recommended herbs to grow in your garden.  This section details the proper growing conditions, physical descriptions, and properties of each herb as well as ways in which they can be used in recipes, decorating, and other crafts.



Loe also provides lots of great and helpful information about growing your own herb garden.  You will find information about planning your garden, choosing the right type of soil and containers; fertilizing and mulching; how to propagate from seeds and cuttings; how to plant theme gardens; and how to harvest and dry your herbs.





 With their wonderful flavorings and fragrances, herbs can give life to any boring recipe.  Loe includes a section filled with mouth watering recipes for seasonings, dressings, butters, chicken, beef, rice, potatoes, salads, breads, and delectable desserts such as tarts, scones, shortcakes, and pudding, among others.




The beneficial properties of herbs make them ideal for use in bath and beauty products.  DIY beauty products are easy and fun to make and if you want to get creative, this book has a section dedicated to herbal beauty recipes such as lotion, cologne, body cream, bath oil, and more.





The unique beauty and fragrance of herbs make them wonderful elements for decorative and fragrance crafting.  This book will give you ideas on how to create and arrange wreaths, garlands, and topiaries, as well as pressed herb crafts. You can also enjoy their beautiful fragrances by making sachets, drawer liners, and closet bouquets. There are many beautiful decorative crafting ideas to inspire you in this book.




The Herbal Home Companion is a very well put together and comprehensive book of the many ways in which you can creatively enjoy herbs in all their beauty, their wonderful fragrances, and their flavors.

This book is part of my series of out-of-print fragrance crafting book recommendations. There are affordable used copies of this book at the marketplaces of Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and Alibris, and Abe Books.  You may also come across copies at used book shops as well.



* The photos in this post are © Copyright The Herbal Home Companion, Theresa Loe.

** I am getting no commissions from this book recommendation.



Fragrant Decorating Idea – Bay Leaves


Calendula, also known as Pot Marigold, is a great addition to soap, bath, and beauty products like bath salts and body scrubs. In addition to moisturizing dry skin, it has antibacterial and antiseptic qualities and it helps wounds to heal by stimulating collagen. These qualities make it effective in balms and salves for rashes, irritated skin, and wounds. The bright golden petals also make great additions to fragrant potpourri blends displayed in decorative dishes and jars.



Five Herb Teas for Healthy Skin


Many herbal teas have beneficial qualities for the skin and are used in soap, bath teas, bath oils, bath salts, lotions, etc., Not only do they help when used externally in bath and beauty products, but herbal teas also have many skin benefits even when you drink them. Drinking tea has many benefits for your overall health and these teas contain antioxidants which fight free radicals which develop in the skin from exposure to UV rays, pollution, and toxins in our environment. Free radicals damage the skin causing dry skin, wrinkles, fine lines, and loss of skin elasticity. Anti-oxidants fight and can even inhibit the damage caused by free radicals.

Some of these herbal teas also improve and aid digestion which helps the body get rid of toxins. Problematic digestion where toxins are not properly released may result in skin conditions like acne, excema, rosacea, and psoriasis.
Another skin benefit is that many herbal teas do not have caffeine, which is a diuretic. Diuretics make the body flush out excess water (you pee a lot) and can result in your body and skin losing moisture. Dry skin is usually a side effect of diuretics.


Chamomile:Chamomile is rich in anti-oxidants, it has anti inflammatory properties and it also very helpful for digestion problems. Chamomile contains no caffeine.

Ginger:– Ginger tea is very good for digestion and helps the body get rid of toxins, it also has anti-oxidants and contains no caffeine.

Green Tea: Green tea is very rich in strong anti-oxidants called polyphenols. It also has anti inflammatory properties as well. Green tea does contain caffeine but not as much as coffee.

Mint: In addition to containing anti-oxidants, mint tea is very beneficial to digestion and ridding the body of toxins. It also has anti microbial and antiseptic properties. Mint contains no caffeine.

Rosehips: Rosehip tea is rich not only in anti-oxidants but also in vitamin C which strengthens the immune system. Rosehip tea also contains vitamin A and Vitamin E which are also helpful to the immune system and the skin. Rosehips contain no caffeine.



* Please be aware that just because something is natural it doesn’t mean someone may not be allergic to it or that it will not cause side effects.  None of this information is meant to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care by your physician.


** The graphic above is from my Tea and Candles Clipart Collection. Do not take this graphic from this post.



Essential Oil Scent Categories


There are many wonderful essential oil scents to choose from when you’re preparing soap, bath & body, and other fragrance crafts. You can even create different scents by combining essential oils together. A good way to help you choose which scents you want to use for any particular crafting projects is to group the essential oils together by scent categories. Essential oils are categorized as Citrus, Herbal, Spicy, Floral, Woody, and Earthy. Some essential oils can fit into more than one category. If you want to combine scents, essential oils from the same category will blend well together.

Citrus:

Bergamot

Citronella
Grapefruit
Lemon
Lemongrass
Lime
Mandarin
Neroli
Orange
Tangerine

Herbal:
Basil
Chamomile
Clary Sage
Eucalyptus
Marjoram
Oregano
Peppermint
Rosemary
Sage
Spearmint
Tea Tree
Thyme

Spicy:
Aniseed
Cardamom
Cinnamon
Clove
Coriander
Ginger
Nutmeg
Pepper

Woody
Cedarwood
Cinnamon
Coriander
Cypress
Fir
Frankincence
Juniper
Myrrh
Patchouli
Pine
Sandalwood
Vetiver

Earthy:
Amber
Angelica
Frankincence
Lemongrass
Patchouli
Sandalwood
Valerian
Vetiver

Floral:
Chamomile
Geranium
Jasmine
Lavender
Lilac
Lily of the Valley
Neroli
Plumeria
Rose
Violet
Ylang-Ylang


You can experiment and see what combinations you like, generally citrus blends well with floral and spicy. Also, woody blends well with spicy and earthy.

Always use precautions when using essential oils because they are highly concentrated which makes them very strong, do not put them directly on your skin, make sure they are diluted first. Do not use any essential oils if you are pregnant.



Bath & Body Herbs


There are many herbs that have beneficial properties and make great additions to soap and other bath products. Some have natural astringent, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory properties. Even herbal scents have effects, some can be uplifting and stimulating while others can be soothing and relaxing. Herbs can enhance the quality of your bath. This is a list of some of the most commonly used herbs and additives in bath & body and soap recipes along with their beneficial properties.

Calendula (Pot Marigold): The orange petals of calendula contain antiseptic and antifungal properties. Calendula is also an anti-inflammatory and soothes and protects irritated and damaged skin.

Chamomile: In addition to having a sweet apple-like fragrance, chamomile also has anti-inflammatory properties and is very soothing and relaxing.

Citrus Peel: The peels of orange, lemon, and lime are natural exfoliants and have astringent properties. They also have a strong uplifting scent. Their bright colors add a great visual to bath & body preparations like bath teas and scrubs.

Green Tea: Green tea contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show that it can protect the skin against sun damage.

Lavender: Known for it’s wonderful soft floral scent, lavender provides antiseptic, antibacterial and healing properties. It is soothing and can relieve stress. The fragrance of lavender has a calming effect and can also help to reduce headaches.

Lemon Verbena: Lemon verbena has a gentle lemony scent and can soothe dry or irritated skin, it also acts as a toner for the skin.

Mints: Both peppermint and spearmint contain antiseptic properties and have a soothing and cooling effect on irritated skin. Their strong fragrances are stimulating and invigorating.

Rosemary: Rosemary helps improve circulation and relaxes muscles. It has a stimulating and refreshing pine-like scent.


* None of this information is meant to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care by your physician.

Herb Package Accent Ideas

Using sprigs of herbs is a great way to adorn your gift wrapped packages. Not only do they add wonderful natural splashes of color, they also give off beautiful fragrances. They enhance plain brown wrapping and give it a beautiful natural earthy look, and you can also match them to colorful bright wrapping papers and ribbons.

Check out these great wrapping ideas using herbs as accents:







From: Jane Means Blog

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From: Adventures in Making


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From: Blue, Purple, and Scarlett


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Interesting Herb Myths


Are you an herb lover? You’re not alone, throughout the centuries people not only loved them for their practical uses but also became quite fascinated and even mystified by them. Their aromatic leaves have been used for cooking, decorating, and medicinal purposes. With their healing properties as well as being tasty, fragrant, and attractive, people throughout the ages believed that the plants possessed magical qualities and attributed some interesting myths and legends to them. These are some amusing myths and legends about some of the more popular herbs and spices:

Bay Leaf: According to myth, the beautiful Daphne was changed into a bay as she escaped the clutches of Apollo. Thus, Apollo made a crown out of bay leaves and branches and wore it in her honor; In the 17th century it was believed that bay leaves repelled witchcraft. Pots of bay were placed in front of doorways in order to ward thwart evil spells and curses; It was also believed that bay would prevent one’s house from being struck by lightning.

Chamomile: The Anglo-Saxons believed chamomile was one of the sacred herbs given to the earth by the god Woden; In Victorian times, chamomile symbolized patience in adversity; Chamomile is believed by some to possess the power to attract money, gamblers soak their hands in a chamomile infusion in order to increase their chances of winning.

Cinnamon: The Romans believed cinnamon to be sacred, and the emperor Nero burned bunches of it as a sacrifice at his wife’s funeral; In the Middle Ages, cinnamon represented wealth and power. At large banquets, hosts served cinnamon in order to impress the guests.

Cloves: When the fragrant clove forests were discovered in Indonesia, it was said that they must always be planted around water in order to flourish; For over 4,000 years, people chewed whole cloves in order to freshen their breath and it was said that in ancient China if anyone wanted to speak to the emperor, they were required to have a clove in their mouth.

Dill: Dill represented wealth to the ancient Greeks; During the Middle Ages, dill was believed to possess magical powers and could destroy evil spells. A drink made from dill leaves was the remedy for anyone who believed that a witch had cast a spell on them. People also wore charms made from dill leaves to protect themselves from evil spells.

Fennel: During the Middle Ages, fennel was hung above doorways and on rafters in order to ward off the devil. Fennel seeds were also placed inside keyholes in order to prevent ghosts from entering the house; In 470 b.c. the Greeks defeated the Persians at Marathon. They fought on a field of fennel and this led to the belief that fennel inspired courage and strength. Greek and Roman soldiers chewed fennel seeds before entering battle.

Lavender: Legend says that the pleasant smell of lavender comes from the baby Jesus. After washing his swaddling clothes, Mary hung them to dry on a lavender bush. Thus, the plant was given the smell of heaven; In the Middle Ages it was believed that couples who place lavender flowers between their bedsheets would never fight.

Mint: According to myth, Hades had developed a lust for a nymph named Minthe. Hade’s wife Persephone found out and angrily transformed Minthe into a plant to be trampled on. Hades could not undo the spell, but he was able to ease it by giving Minthe a wonderfully sweet fragrance which would be released whenever her leaves were trampled on.

Oregano (Marjoram): The ancient Greeks believed that Aphrodite created oregano; They believed that if it grew around a grave, the deceased would have eternal happiness; In Germany, oregano was hung over doorways to protect against evil spells; In the Middle Ages, oregano symbolized happiness and love.

Rose: According to myth, the first roses did not have thorns. While Venus’ son Cupid was smelling a rose, a bee came out and stung him on the lip. Venus then strung his bow with bees. She removed their stingers and placed them on the stems of the roses; Myth also says that all roses were originally white until Venus tore her foot on a briar and all the roses were dyed red with her blood; In Christian lore the red color of roses comes from the blood of Christ.

Rosemary: From the times of ancient Greece through the Middle Ages, it was believed that rosemary strengthened the brain and memory. When they needed to take exams, students braided rosemary into their hair in order to help their memory; The ancient Greeks burned rosemary in order to repel evil spirits and illness; In some parts of Europe, it was believed that if an unmarried woman placed rosemary under her pillow, her future husband would be revealed to her in her dream.

Sage: The Romans believed that sage was a sacred herb that gave immortality. Up until the 18th century, it was believed that sage increased fertility. It was also believed that sage strengthened the mind.

Thyme: During the Middle Ages it was believed that the scent of thyme inspired bravery. Knights wore scarves with thyme leaves sewn on them during tournaments; In English lore, if a person collected thyme flowers from hillsides where fairies lived, and rubbed the flowers on their eyelids, they would be able to see the fairies.