Sunday, December 26, 2010

Dried Lavender Crafts

Many lavender crafts can be made using dried lavender buds which hold their aroma for many months. A slight touch of the lavender will cause it to release its aroma time and time again. Because of this property, dried lavender is a wonderful material for making crafts that can be enjoyed for a long time. If you have dried lavender left from last season's harvest, or you simply purchase some dried lavender buds, you can start with some of these easy projects.

Lavender Sachet - A sachet is a simple way to add that sweet lavender aroma to a drawer, closet or room. There are many creative possibilities when it comes to making a lavender sachet. The easiest sachet could be simply putting lavender buds into a decorative stationary envelope. Use a pin to poke some holes in the back of the envelope to allow the smell to escape. Another alternative is to use a computer printer to print a pattern or image on a plain sheet of paper, then fold it into an envelope that will contain the lavender buds.

If your craft skills include sewing, you can make your own lavender sachet using organza material. Sew the material into a pouch to hold your lavender buds and tie it closed with a ribbon. Another option is to cut a long strip of material that is about 4 inches (10 - 11 cm) wide, fold it in half along the length, place lavender buds in between the folds as you sew it into 2 inch X 2 inch (5 cm X 5 cm) squares. This will result in a sachet that is as long as you want and will work well when hanging near a window to allow the fresh breeze to spread the lavender aroma around the room.

Dried Lavender Flower Arrangement - Often lavender stalks are bundled together and dried with the buds still attached. Dried lavender bundles are a great addition when creating a dried floral arrangement. Many beautiful dried grasses and plants are available in craft stores or in nature. Arrange these in a vase along with your dried lavender bundles and you can create an attractive and aromatic table centerpiece or shelf decoration. Dried lavender flowers are lovely by themselves and add a country charm to a bathroom or kitchen. Place them on a window sill or hang them out of the way near a cabinet or in a corner and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere that is created as the scent fills the room.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Not All Lavenders Are Created Equal

There was a time when didn't realize there was a difference between high end lavender and grocery store lavender. I figured that one had marketed itself more effectively and was able to put a higher price tag on the same product. While this happens more than it should, there are cavernous differences between "lavender", lavendin and lavendula angustifolia.

Let's break it down:

"Lavender": A lot of products in grocery stores with a "lavender" scent may not even have actual lavender in it. It's like "grape" gum. I've never tasted a real grape that smelled anything like grape-flavored gum but it's what the market has decided "grape" tastes like so that's what we've come to expect. Same goes for lavender. A lot of people out there (maybe even you!) have only encountered the most false versions of lavender and believe that you're allergic to or dislike the smell of lavender. If the ingredient deck says nothing of "lavendin" or some form of "lavandula", back away slowly and move on to something real.

Lavendin: Even though (or maybe because) Lavendin is a hybrid of lavandula angustifolia (often called True Lavender) and lavender spica (Spiky Lavender), it's a totally sterile plant that can't reproduce on its own. Despite its sterility, lavendin is by far the most prevalent form of lavender in soaps, toothpastes, everything because it smells so lovely. It has to be cloned, which is why most lavender fields you see look eerily symmetrical and tidy. Lavendin, however, doesn't guarantee all the healing properties that lavandula angustifolia provides, so OHA primarily uses lavendin to cover up the not-so-pleasant smelliness of unrefined olive oil, pumpkin seed oil and rose hip seed oil. It also does well at the basic lavender functions, like being antispasmodic and a stress reliever.

Lavandula Angustifolia (True Lavender): Ahhh, now the really good stuff. When other skin care companies use this variety of lavender, they dilute it like crazy because it's so expensive. This lavender is not skin sensitizing so it's safe for almost every skin type. The most precious sub-species of lavendula angustifolia is Population Lavender, grown from seeds in France. It is among the most therapeutically complex and beneficial lavender oils in the world. Talk about freakisly expensive, but OHA uses it because it's what's best for your skin. Different climates, altitudes, and even insects can affect the structure and therapeutic strengths of a lavender plant, so OHA sources lavender from all around the world, including the Pacific Northwest, Tasmania, France, Bulgaria, and the Himalayas. This guarantees that you get all the possible therapeutic benefits of lavender when you use OHA's skin care system. Why is that cool? See below:

Lavender Angustifolia's benefits include:

* treating eczema, psoriasis, burns, bronchial disorders, migraines, wounds, parasitic infection
* relaxant, sleep aid and stress reliever
* antibacterial, antispasmodic, a circulatory stimulant and antiseptic
* regulates skin functions and stimulates cellular growth and regeneration
* brings balance to all skin types, including acneic, dry, normal, sensitive and oily
* heals open wounds or surgical wounds
* it turns you and your friends into unicorns. I'm kidding. I just wanted to see you if you were still with me.

Enlightening stuff, eh? It just reminds me of what an honor it is to be using and working around the most beautiful ingredients available.

Tag : lavender,lavender essential oil,lavender plant,lavender oil

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Do You Know the Different Lavender Herb Types

Lavender herb is a popular addition to gardens. The aromatic flower spikes are excellent in dried flower arrangements or potpourri. The plant can also be used to make essential oils and for natural healing. Some people also use the plant in cooking, although this is not common. There are around thirty varieties of lavender. However, the most often used are the English, French and Spanish varieties.

English lavender, botanically known as Lavendula angustifolia, is the type most people picture when they hear the word lavender. The plant has purplish flowers and grows to two or three feet. Their fragrance is strong, which is why this type is the one most commonly used for aromatherapy.

There are sub-varieties of English lavender. These tend to be smaller in size, work well as edging and come in other colors than the traditional lavender. Varieties include Melissa, which has pink flowers; Baby Blue, which has purple flowers; Nana Alba, which has white flowers; and Martha Roderick, which has bluish-lavender flowers.

French lavender, or Lavendula dententa, is a milder variety of lavender. It has a more subdued fragrance than its English cousin. Flowers are not quite as vibrant. This type is typically used more for decorative appearance rather than aromatic appeal. This plant also grows up to three feet in height. Leaves are serrated.

The flower many gardeners mistakenly assume is French lavender is actually Spanish lavender. Botanically known as Lavendula stoechus, the plant grows between eighteen inches and two feet in height. Petals are upright and similar in appearance to a pine cone. In Spring, deep purple flowers appear. Bees tend to like this type, which grows best in humid areas.

Of these three main types, English lavender tends to be the hardiest. It can winter outdoors provided it has shelter and a layer of mulching to protect it. The French and Spanish varieties need more warmth and should be moved indoors. If you do not bring them in, you will have to replace the plants each year.

When purchasing lavender commercially, you may notice it labeled as true lavender, spike lavender or lavandin. True lavender has barrel-shaped flowers, short and narrow leaves and crooked stems. It is commonly used for aromatherapy. Spike lavender, like the name implies, grows more and spikes. This type yields the highest amounts of essential oils. Lavandin, sometimes called Dutch lavender, is a hybrid of true and spike lavenders. It has vibrantly colored flowers and is often used as part of decorative accents or potpourris.

While lavender can be grown from seed, it is difficult. Most gardeners start their plants from cuttings or root divisions. They need moist, well-drained soil to flourish. Provide protection from the sun for the first year before moving to the garden. To encourage the plant to bush out, cut flower shoots off the first year in the garden. After the first year, the plant just requires dead-heading of old flowers to keep it going strong. For the strongest aroma, harvest at the end of summer on a hot, dry day.

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Uses For Lavender Essential Oil

You can use Lavender essential oil in a variety of ways, and to help with a variety of home care needs. Lavender oils have been used for many years, and while it is more commonly associated with its health and beauty benefits, Lavender has plenty of home care uses as well.

While it is easy to find out what to use lavender oil for, it can be difficult to figure out how to use lavender and lavender oils for these purposes. Here you can find a couple different uses for lavender and how to use them for your home care needs.

Lavender can be very easily used to refresh clothes, carpets, and rooms.

To use to refresh clothes

  • Place 5 drops of lavender essential oil into about a quarter cup of fabric softener, and add into washer like normal. When you take these clothes out of your washer they will smell just like the soft, fresh, flowery scent of lavender.
  • You can also make a lavender sachet and stick it in your drawers to keep your clothes smelling fresh. To do this, just add some dried lavender, and accompanying herbs (like chamomile, lemon, or mint leaves), and place them in a small pouch. You can make a pouch easily out of an old t-shirt and some ribbon. Just cut up an old shirt into a large circle, add herbs of choice, and tie up with an old string or ribbon.

To refresh carpets and area rugs

  • Mix 2 - 4 cups of baking soda with 10 - 15 drops of lavender essential oil, mix in a plastic ziplock back and let sit for a few days to dry out. Then take this mixture, which should smell wonderful when you open it, and sprinkle over your carpets. You can let this sit for a little bit, and then vacuum up. This will leave your carpets smelling wonderful and fresh.

To refresh rooms

  • Drop a few drops of the lavender oil into the hot wax of a burning candle, this will give off a faint smell. You can also easily find lavender candles at any home or specialty store. They are very common, and some even have lavender mixed with accompanying scents.
  • You can also create a lavender potpourri with dried lavender, fresh lavender, and a few drops of lavender essential oil. You can add any other types of dried flowers or herbs you want to this, as well.
  • For bathrooms you can easily make decorative lavender soap out of simple melt and pour soap bases. These soap bases can be bought at any hobbyist store, such as Michaels. You can also obtain an unlimited amount of molds online or at hobby stores as well. All this requires is taking the soap base of your choice, melting it down, and pouring into molds. To create the lovely lavender scent, just add some lavender essential oil (about 5 drops per cup) to the soap base after it has been melted. Make sure you don't add it in when the base it too warm or it will destroy some of lavenders beneficial properties. When these cool off you will have some very nice smelling soap that can keep your bathroom smelling fresh and clean.

In addition to some of the above home uses, lavender products are starting to show up on store shelves in everything from dish detergents, and laundry detergents, to wrinkle creams and lotions. Everywhere you look you seem to see more and more lavender products on the markets, and with so many benefits, its not hard to see why. To find more uses for lavender and read about all lavenders beneficial properties, check out this great Lavender Essential Oil Guide. There you will find useful information for soapmakers, cosmetic makers, and the everyday consumer as well.

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