Thursday, July 30, 2009

All About Bee Balm

Bee balm is a pretty flower with several names. It is often called bergamot because its scent resembles the Italian bergamot orange which is used in Earl Gray tea. The name monarda comes from Dr Nicholas Monardes of Seville who wrote an herbal on North American flora in 1569.

Traditional medicainal uses for bee balm are for relief of nausea, gas, insomnia and menstrual pain. Another name is Oswego tea which comes from the fact that it was used by Native Americans to treat colds. Bee balm became a popular tea substitute after the Boston Tea Party of 1773.

A delicious tea is easily made by infusing ( pour boiling water over the bee balm and cover with a tight fitting lid) or simmering the leaves and flowers for about 10 minutes.

Harvest the when the flowers form and the flowers when they are fully open. To dry for future use, simply hang small bunches upside down in a warm, dry, dark place. Store in an airtight container to preserve the fabulous scent and flavor.

Bee balm is easily grown in rich, light, moist soil in full sun or partial shade in hot climates. The colors range from vibrant red to pale pink. It doesn't require a lot of attention which is a trait I really appreciate in a plant, and looks beautiful and airy in the border.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

How To Make a Tussie Mussie

Tussie mussies were a method of communicating using the language of flowers during Victorian times. Before that, they were used to ward off disease and cover the smell of the streets. The phrase "tussie mussie" comes from a medieval word meaning sweet posie. They are a thoughtful little gift to one you care for regardless whether you incorporate meaning into them or compose them for beauty only.
It doesn't take long to put one of these little bouquets together. Just use what you have on hand as far as flowers and herbs go and let your eye guide the composition. In general, it is best to use flowers in groups of odd numbers to create a balanced bouquet. Decide whether you want to create a meaning or not, and gather your flowers. To maintain their freshness, keep them in water as you work
Start with a focal flower. This bouquet is for a sick friend so I chose a rose to represent love, added some marjoram for joy and happiness, lemon balm for sympathy and lavender for devotion. Work in a somewhat symmetrical fashion, keeping your flowers in place with florists' tape. I then added some bee balm for compassion and yarrow for health. There are a couple of sprigs of thyme to bring strength and courageKeep your composition tight and don't make it too large. Tussie mussies are traditionally small in size. I finished with Lady's Mantle to bring comfort and Queen Anne's lace as it mimics the lace the Victorian ladies used in their tussie mussies. I finished the edges with a border of hosta leaves as they make a nice solid contrast for the laciness of the other flowers. Finish off your work by trimming the ends of the flowers evenly. I like to leave them long enough to go in a bud vase .

Thursday, July 23, 2009

How Not To Cry When you Chop Onions!

Simple tip- burn a candle when chopping onions to keep from crying! Put your lit candle near your cutting board so the flame burns off the fumes from the onion that irritates your eyes and makes you cry.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How To Get The Scent of Onions Off Your Hands

Here is a quick tip to get the stubborn smell of onions and garlic off your hands! Simply wet your hands and soap up as usual. Then rub yor hands on something stainless steel (like your sink) and rinse as usual. Stubborn scent is gone like magic!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

THe Language of Flowers- Part 4

This is the next segment in my series dealing with the traditional meanings of flowers. Later this week I'll post the instructions for making a tussie mussie that sends a message- or just looks pretty!

Bee Balm- Compassion

Veronica- Fidelity
Marjoram- Joy and Happiness
Tulips- Love
Lavender- Protection, Devotion, Silence

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Fizzy Bath Salts Recipe

A long soak in the tub is one of life's most underrated pleasures! It doesn't cost a lot. It doesn't make you fat or unhealthy. Add some scented soap or bath salts and it becomes a simple way to unwind and pamper yourself after a stressful day.

Old Fashioned Lavender Fizzing Bath Salts

Blend 2 cups of baking soda, 1 cup of cornstarch and 1 cup of citric acid in a non -reactive bowl- glass works fine. In a separate small bowl mix 2 teaspoons of lavender essential with 1 teaspoon of rosemary oil then add a drop at a time to the dry ingredients mixing well after each addition. Put into a glass jar with a tight fitting lid and let the mixture age for 2 weeks to blend and mellow the scent.

Use 1/2- 1/2 cup of your salts in each warm bath. They will fizz and smell wonderful!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Brown Sugar Body Buff Recipe

A sugar scrub is a yummy way to exfoliate and soften your skin. They are easily made at home and best when used within a month. Feel free to substitute whatever scent you like best for what I have suggested!

Brown Sugar Body Buff
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons of sunflower, jojoba, or sweet almond oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons of honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vitamin E
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sweet orange essential oil
In a medium sized bowl, combine the sugar and salt and mix well. In a small bowl, mix all your wet ingredients together. Pour the oil and honey mixture over your dry ingredients and thoroughly mix. Store in a jar with a tight fitting lid until ready to use.

Use your delicious smelling scrub once or twice a week. Simply scoop a small amount into your hand and gently scrub using a circular motion, starting at your feet and working your way up. Avoid using on irritated or broken skin. If you spend a lot of time in the sun, use something other than a citrus oil as they make you more photo sensitive and you will sunburn easier.
Your tub or shower may get slippery when you use the scrub so be careful!


Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Language of Flowers- Part Three

The common bond for today's flowers is that they are all white in my photos! The lilies and dianthus also look beautiful in their other colors and forms in a tussie mussie. Use what you have on hand.Use rue very sparingly as many are allergic to this airy plant.

Sweet Woodruff- Be cheerful and rejoice in life

Rue- Vision and Virtue

Dianthus- Bonds of Affection

Lily- Purity

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Language of Flowers- Part 2

The following herbs and flowers are suitable for a bouquet for someone who is going through an illness or other rough time.

Lady's Mantle- Comfort
Yarrow- Health

Sage- Long Life, Good Health
Magnolia- Grief
Lemon Balm- Sympathy
Lily-of-the-Valley- Peace

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Language of Flowers Part 1

In Victorian times floriography, the art of sending messages using flowers, was quite popular. Entire dictionaries were available and mothers taught their daughters the language of flowers. The meanings vary from source to source so I picked the most often used meaning.

Daisy- innocence

Ferns- fascination

Roses- love, unity
I'll be adding more to my floral dictionary throughout this month as the flowers come into bloom in my garden. At the end of this series I'll share my directions for making a tussie-mussie so you can send a message with flowers!

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Secret to Real Strength

It is only when we acknowledge, embrace, own and live our weaknesses that we can become truly strong.