Lavender Dream Pillows and Home Made Tea

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‘Tis the season! And what’s better than some home made gifts? Here are two really easy and fun ideas for home made gifts that are economical, pretty, and will give the receiver lots of joy. 

 

The first idea is for a lavender dream pillow. This is quite simply a piece of cloth, like a nice handkerchief, that is filled with lavender and then tied off with string. We have a few around the house and in our cars, but they are best kept in your pillow case, where you can smell the lavender as you fall asleep. Lavender is great for relaxing and promoting a feeling of calm, so it’s really nice to breath in the scent of lavender at bedtime. We grew all the lavender ourselves and found some vintage handkerchiefs at the Goodwill to use for this project. 

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The other idea is to give your friends and loved ones some home grown tea. You can make tea from just about anything, mint, holy basil, raspberry leaves, stinging nettle, the list goes on and on. We grew lots and lots of mint and holy basil this year and have been drying it in the pantry since harvest time. To make the tea, you simply remove the leaves and flowers form the dried stems and give them a buzz in a food processor. Place them in a jar and make a nice label, and presto, you have a gift of home made tea! To drink, just put some of the dried leaves in a tea ball or tea bag, add some hot water and steep till it’s the strength you like. 

 

As a kid living in Africa, we would drink lots of mint tea that was really really sweet. The guys making it would pour it back and forth between cups, holding their arms at great lengths from each other, to properly mix and aerate the tea. It was super tasty and really cooling and energizing on a hot day. 

 

Holy basil is really healthy and kind of amazing, as it’s an adaptogen, meaning that it will help you adapt to both physical and mental stress!  Holy basil, also know also Tulsi, imparts strength, energy, mental clarity, and stamina. Overall it's an amazing tea to drink whenever you are feeling stressed or you just need a bit of a pick me up.

Yarrow

Nature is incredible! Seriously, the things that you can do with plants in their natural state, without doctoring or altering them much is simply astounding. Let me explain. I took a fairly sizable chuck of my finger off the other day while chopping kindling. Yes, I cut a piece of my finger off with an axe. The finger is going to be fine, just not looking forward to a lengthy healing process and not being able to pay music for a long time. 

 

But I digress. When it happened, it was late at night, and all the urgent care facilities had already closed, and it wasn’t worth a trip to the ER. Besides, my experience in kitchens has shown me that unless you take a very large piece of your finger off, meaning you’ve gone through bone and are past the first knuckle, there is nothing you can do about it. This knowledge however, didn’t really solve the problem of the continuos flow of blood and did little to comfort me. So what now? Ariel to the rescue! Ariel is a very skilled herbalist and knew to immediately to run to the garden and grab some yarrow. 

 

Yarrow, (Achillea Millefolium), has amazing blood clotting abilities and has been used for centuries for this purpose. The first part of its latin name, Achillea, refers to Achilles, who would take it into battle with him to treat wounds. It goes by other names that allude to it’s blood staunching properties: soldier’s woundwort, staunchweed, thousand seal, and sanguinary, to name a few. It has other medicinal uses as well. Essential oils made from yarrow are used as an anti-inflammatory and Native Americans use it for anything from a toothache to a fever reducer and sleep aid.  

 

So how does it work? All you have to do is chew it into a pulp to create a poultice (it tastes horrible, by the way,) and place it on the wound. Within seconds, literally seconds, the bleeding stopped. We applied yarrow to the finger three times, and it hasn’t bled since. This is pretty incredible considering the size of the cut. 

 

I would highly recommend you plant some yarrow. It is a perennial herb, and is easy to grow and comes in extremely handy in an emergency. 

 

Yet, maybe most importantly of all, there is just something intangible and ethereal, even hallowed, to the idea of using an ancient plant, a plant that has been used for this purpose for ages, a plant that just grows in our backyard, to heal. It feels as if you are making a connection with a much older, more primitive version of yourself, and that is what makes nature so amazing, and it’s also why we do what we do; to chase that feeling.