Monday, July 19, 2010
Bees and lavender
I've been making lots of lovely smelly things recently - with lavender. I love the smell (particularly around the house) and it grows really easily. Having lavender in the garden also attracts bees which is really, really important. I've made a little video (with some footage Tim took in the garden earlier) - please watch :)
So, what do you do with all that lovely lavender (apart from seduce bees!)? Lots of things! Here are just a few.
Hang it in bunches to dry (and scent the room!) Here's mine in my kitchen - it needs to be somewhere warm so that it dries quickly before it rots.
Make lavender water (which can then be frozen in an ice cube tray and defrosted whenever you need some)
Pull the flowers off the stalks and put in some fine cotton material
Fasten with an elastic band
Pop into a tall glass jar
Pour on boiling water, cover the jar and leave for 24 hours (sorry for the blur!)
Then, remove the bag and throw away the flowers. Put some fresh flowers in the bag and reseal with the elastic. Tip the water into a saucepan and bring to the boil then put the flower bag and boiled water back into the jar and top up with fresh (boiled) water. Leave for another 24 hours then tip into an ice cube tray and freeze.
Make a very special, dry-skin busting soap. First, grate up some unperfumed, uncoloured soap (mine is palm oil based). I actually used a zester to do this - takes a while but is strangely satisfying!
You will need: olive oil, lavender flowers and dried chamomile. You will also need some sillicon cupcake cases and a baking tray.
Put the grated soap in a glass bowl and put that over a saucepan containing boiling water. Set the whole thing on the hob on a lowish heat. You will be adding freshly boiled water to the soap mix but it needs to be on the stove to keep everything at a good, constant temperature otherwise your soap mixture won't melt down properly.
Put your lavender flowers in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to GENTLY crush them
Make some tea with your chamomile!
Add about a cup of boiling water to your soap mix and stir. As it starts to melt down, add in the (strained) chamomile and the lavender flowers and a couple of teaspoons of olive oil. Stir. Looks a bit yuk at this point!
Add another cup of boiling water and stir again - it will be getting bubbly
Now, take the bowl off the heat - don't worry about any soap bits remaining because now you're going to beat the mixture with a wooden spoon. It will start to thicken up.
You can go in with your hands to squish out any remaining bits (make sure it's not too hot still!)
When you're ready, spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases and put in the fridge to harden off.
In a couple of days you can turn them out - hey presto! Cute cupcake soaps that are wonderfully good for your hands (got rid of April's nasty dry bits!) HOWEVER PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE test on a small patch of skin before completely lathering up with it to make sure it doesn't cause an allergy!!
Oh, and one final bee-related thing ..... Tim was tidying the front garden this afternoon and found a poor dead bee :( We have a little "animal graveyard" in our garden (created by April) to put any dead creatures she finds (woodlice, bees, spiders etc) - but before she put him there, she had a look at him under our mini microscope ......
I got a photo of his wing through the microscope