Posts Tagged With: herbal crafts

How To Make A Hydrosol

hydrosol1

To me the scent of wild things, of plants and flowers is truly enchanting and brings great joy to my life.  Essential oils and hydrosols capture a bit of that magic for us humans to enjoy any time.   Hydrosols are the aromatic water that is created during steam distillation of essential oils.

Hydrosols are different in their healing properties than aromatherapy spritzers where essential oils are simply added to water.  This is because in addition to small amounts of essential oil, hydrosols also contain water soluble healing compounds.  Among these compounds are plant acids which lend themselves beautiful as toners for the skin.  Hydrosols are generally considered to be gentler and safer to use than their essential oils counter parts.  According to Sagescript hydrosols “contain the beneficial products of essential oils plus more and in a less concentrated, safer form.”

You can use the following method* to make homemade hydrosols from any number of fresh plants and flowers.  Consider using roses (of course!), lavender, calendula, lemon balm, catnip, rosemary and any other fragrant or soothing plant.  I think chamomile would be especially nice.

Today we are making peppermint hydrosol.  The good folks at Mountain Rose Herbs say that peppermint hydrosol is great for cooling down on a hot day and that it is “it is particularly helpful for abrasions, hot spots, and as a facial toner.”  I think it will make a perfect spray or compress for cooling down on a hot day.

~ Materials ~

  • Large pot with a lid, a pot for canning works great for this.
  • Small bowl or container to go inside your pot to collect the hydrosol.
  • Something heat-proof to stand the smaller container on inside the large pot, a jar rack works perfectly for this.  If you don’t have one of these don’t despair.  Try using heat-proof ramekin instead.
  • Water, distilled or filtered
  • Ice cubes
  • Peppermint (or other plant material)

~ Method ~

Place the rack or ramekin in the bottom of the large pot and put the small bowl or container on top of the rack/ramekin.

still1

Next fill the bottom of the large pot with plant materia.  You want the plants to reach up to the smaller bowl.  Then fill with water until the plant material is just barely submersed.

still2

Finally put the lid to your larger pot upside down on top of the large pot and fill it with ice cubes.

still3

Heat this whole set up just enough for the water surrounding the peppermint to steam but not boil.  Let it work it’s magic for 20 minutes or so.  We used a clear lid so we could watch the hydrosol condense!

~ How It Works ~

The water will steam the plant material carrying all the goodness from the plant into the air.  The steam collects on the lid of the pan and condenses due to the ice cubes.  Because the pot lid is upside down, as the steam turns back into a liquid the liquid is directed to drip down into the smaller bowl.  This liquid is your hydrosol!  Pretty cool, uh?

Please store you new hydrosol in a dark glass bottle in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!

~ How to get kids involved with this project ~

If you have read my blog for long, you know that sharing herbs with kids is a great passion of mine.  So of course, getting them involved in this fun project is a big plus for me.  Here are a couple of ideas for sharing the fun with little ones!

  • harvestingmintHave them help you harvest the peppermint.  Explain to them that cutting the mint right above the point where two leaves sprout off the stem helps the plant to grow two new stems.  This is because there are baby leaf buds nestled in right above each individual leaf.
  • Ask the child to help you set up your still.  And share with them what is going to happen.  This is a great time to talk about water and all of its forms.  The liquid water in the big pot will heat up and turn into gas or steam.  This is like a big peppermint infused cloud.   The solid water in the form of ice cubes will help the steam cool down and “rain” into the bowl.
  • Explore your new hydrosol together.  Spray it on yourselves and talk about the effect on your body and mind.  Taste it and cook with it.  Make lotions together too!

For more fun with mint join me at our summer herb camp where we have a whole lot of magical minty ideas!

* Jeanne Rose’s Herbal Body Book is where I found this great way to make your own hydrosols.  I stumbled upon this awesome book years ago when I was a teenager.  For weeks I coveted and saved until I could purchase it and bring it home with me.  My first sojourn into making hydrosols with this method was way back when.  I made the most beautiful rose water right in my family’s kitchen.  So incredible!

References: 

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Categories: Aromatherapy For Kids, Herbs For Cooking, Herbs For Kids and Mamas, Hydrosols, Kitchen Creations, Medicine Making, Science Exploration, Summer Herb Camp | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Fairy Crowns And Mint Magic Cookies

A cool rainy afternoon is a cookie baking afternoon at our house.  A time for ruminating in the kitchen over a delicious, comforting delicacy.  Because the heat of summer  has been so intense this year, I know we must seize this particular cool afternoon… it could be the last one like it for a while.

Out to the moist green mint patch we go, scissors in hand to harvest the best part of our cookie, fragrant stems of fresh peppermint.  Like a bit of musty earth magic this lush mint patch comes back each year to gift us with both pleasure and health.  It needs little assistance from us as it grows each year to a fragrant loveliness that is unparalleled elsewhere along our south fence.  We harvest mint continually through out the summer to make delicious yummy treats.   Because mint is so healthy it is good adding it to all kinds of foods to boost nutritional value and flavor.

Harvesting

In our patch we find deep green lobed leaves emerging opposite of each other from square stems.  That is right, square stems!  Square stems and opposite leaves are characteristic of all mint family members, which means a plant that fits this description is very likely related to mint.  Plants like basil, lavender, and sage all have square stems with opposite leaves.  It is fun to twirl the stem between fingers feeling for all four distinct corners.  We harvest the stems in just a way so as to encourage the mint to grow compact instead of stretching high to the sky thus becoming long and leggy.  By cutting the stem right above a pair of leaves, the plant makes use of dormant buds waiting atop each leaf and like magic, grows two whole new stems where there once was just one.  The mint then becomes bushy and seems to maintain its happiness as the heat of summer intensifies.

Back into the kitchen with our lush parcel of herbs, the mint tickles our noses with its delightful scent.  Garbling the mint, I look through the bundle and remove anything that is not supposed to go into our cookies: buggy faded leaves, other plants that had made their way into our mint patch and been plucked inadvertently or anything else I don’t want in our tasty confection.  The kids watch me impatiently waiting to get down to some real cookie baking.

Fairy Crowns and Wands

As I am sorting through the mint, I hand Violet a big leafy stem, ” would you like a fairy wand?”

“Oh yes please!” Violet exclaims.

“Can I have one too?” Nyssa wants to know.

Off they go to play while I finish cleaning up the mint.

The kids are busy casting spells while sniffing their peppermint.  A simple stem can be a wand or woven together multiple peppermint stems turn into fancy fairy wands and lovely garland crowns.  This is a very sensory filled craft project which for a child in the right mood, can provide hours of creativity and play.  Adding dandelions, roses, hollyhocks or any other beauty from nature only makes these toys more magical.  Lace and long trailing ribbons are fanciful additions.

Herbal Waters

While they play Nyssa dances by and reminds me of another favorite and simple way to use mint when she asks to make her own mint water.   Herbal waters are one of the simplest and most delicious ways to use fresh herbs.  This is a great way to harness the cooling properties that peppermint offers during the heat of the summer.  Simply place a stem or two of plant material in a glass of water, wait a bit and then enjoy a subtle but very tasty drink that harnesses peppermint’s cooling properties.  Create herbal waters with many other fresh herbs like lemon balm, lemon thyme, hyssop, pineapple sage, and even basil!  Really any tasty herb that strikes your fancy is the perfect choice.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Now for the cookies.  With the girls back in the kitchen,we start pulling leaves off the clean and sorted mint stems.  Making a big pile, I give the girls each a pair of kid scissors and ask them to snip the leaves into little bits.  As they do this I begin to assemble our baking ingredients.  Being an extreme chocolate lover, almost every cookie I bake has chocolate in some form or another.  For these cookies I  just find a great recipe for chocolate chip cookies and add the fresh mint.  Any favorite recipe can be used.  I like to be sure of using the best of organic ingredients: whole grain flour (usually wheat and barley), butter or coconut oil are delicious, the darkest chocolate chips, turbinado sugar and homemade vanilla extract.  I like to use a lot of mint, usually about 1 to 2 cups added to whatever chocolate chip cookie recipe we are using.

The amazing news is that peppermint is not only yummy but also safe to use and very nutritional being high in vitamins and minerals.  Plus with many wonderful medicinal properties that support digestive health, relax the nervous system and relieve spasms peppermint makes it a great addition to treats for family and friends.  Simply amazing!

For this particular batch of cookies we used Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix. One of our family member’s has recently become gluten-free, and I have found this great mix turns out yummy treats every time we use it!

Well, the cookies came out perfect. Flecks of green a mist gooey chocolatey chunks melting in our mouths as we giggle and savor the perfect afternoon.

Shared On: Foodie Friends Friday

Categories: Herbal Crafts And Projects, Herbs For Cooking, Herbs For Kids and Mamas, Kitchen Creations, Peppermint | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Some Sweet Foot Lovin’ For Mother’s Day

This time of year we are always busy preparing something for those loveliest of people…  Mommies.

This May we are making foot soaks for pampering hard-working feet and to go with it?  The cutest footprint butterflies!

Footprint Butterflies

We started on our butterflies yesterday.  They are really easy to make and the kids love it!  I think mostly because they get to have their feet painted and who wouldn’t get a kick out of that?  It tickles and it is silly!

For time purposes I drew the butterfly’s body for each child with their chosen color, though you could certainly have the child do this part.   Then they drew in the face.  We got some cute facial expressions!

With the butterfly body all set up, I had the child choose the colors for their butterfly’s wings and I asked them how they wanted their feet painted ~ all the colors on each foot?

Or one foot painted one color and the other foot another? With the kid sitting in a child-size chair, the fun began… we painted their feet and pressed them down on paper.

Lots of giggles ensued and with many other little ones watching on, we had a fun morning together.  Doing just one foot at a time made it easy to keep the mess under control.  I helped them place their foot in the right spot to make butterfly wings.

Then we finished with a quick rinse in a tub of water and I wiped their feet off with a towel I had on hand.

Foot Soaks

This coming week we are going to make foot soaks to go along with our butterflies.

Here is the recipe we are going to use:

  • 1 cup of Epsom salts
  • 1/2 cup of baking soda
  • 1 Tbs of ground ginger
  • 1 Tbs of lavender blossoms
  • A 4 to 8  drops of essential oil ~ I will let the children choose their favorite for their mommy from lavender, cedarwood, cardamom, ylang ylang, rose geranium, spearmint and rosemary.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir.  Tie off your bag with a pretty ribbon or twisty tie.  Add a label with information about the ingredients and how to use it.  This recipe will make enough for one to two mommies.  Increase the proportions as needed.  Easy Peasy!

Note:  Using a foot bath is easy and relaxing.  Just use a bowl or basin with enough room for your feet.  Fill it with warm water.  Put your feet and then your foot soak in and relax.  I like to keep a towel nearby to dry off with and a nice foot oil or shea butter to put on afterwards.  Then top off with some snuggly socks!  Heaven.  Heaven for Mommies….

The Gift

Often I will use simple brown paper bags at the preschool.  For gifts there is nothing better.  I let the kids decorate the bags and then we wrap up our gifts.  For Mother’s Day, I plan to package them all up something like this:

Shared On: It’s Playtime!Tender MomentsEco-Kids TuesdayThe Kid’s Co-opKid’s Get Crafty, Friday’s Nature Table

Categories: Aromatherapy For Kids, Bathing, Essential Oils, Herbal Gift Ideas, Herbs For Kids and Mamas, Lesson Plans For Preschool And Home, Mother's Day, Playing With Herbs | Tags: , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Crafts For A Dreamy Herbal Slumber Party

A sweet celebration of a girl turning ten years old, my daughter’s right of passage into “the double digits” was hallmarked by a riotously fun slumber party.  The girls danced to all the new songs; giggled and played tag; ate cake with ice cream; and had their faces painted by a professional face painter.

As the evening wore on into night we followed all of this fun up with a bit of herbal crafting before bed.  My daughter requested we make dream pillows, spritzers and have foot baths.  It was great to work with a group of older children because they can do many things preschoolers just can’t do yet!

Dream Pillows

Cuddly fleece surrounding aromatic herbs what girl could resist?  We based our pillows off of the instructions for making a no-sew fleece pillow on Family Fun.  We made our pillows like mini body pillows for extra cuddliness.  I have made these a few times before with children of various ages.  At ages 9 and 10 the girls were able to tie the pillows themselves and I am sure they could have cut the fabric too, but I made sure to have that part done before the party so we could focus on the fun part!  This pillow needs to be tied and stuffed.  Notice the how the cloth is cut, easy-peasy to do!

We sat in a circle on the floor.  The room alive with chatting and tying.  When someone had a bit of trouble with her project we would all help.  It was a nice little gathering.  After the girls had their pillows mostly tied they stuffed them with fluffy filler stuff from Hobby Lobby.  Then we made herbal bundles to put into their pillows stuffed full of herbs to enhance sleep and dreams ~rose petals, lavender, mugwort and hops.  All the herbs were chosen by my daughter during a visit to Rebecca’s in Boulder where they let her meet and sniff the herbs to her heart’s content!

Here are the beautiful herbs we used all ready to bundle up; from top to bottom ~ red rose petals, hops strobiles, lavender blossoms and mugwort leaves.  A fest for the senses!

The girls laid out their chosen herbs on a scrap of cloth which we then folded around the herbs and hot glued shut.  It is important to do something to contain the herbs with this kind of pillow because the pillow is not sewn shut and loose herbs fall out of the pillow.  Then they placed their herbal bundle in their pillow on top of the fluff filler, right near the surface so the fragrance of the herbs will drift out when they cuddle with their pillow.  After that, all that was left was to finish tieing their pillows and viola!  A soft aromatic sleep inducing handmade pillow!

Aromatherapy Spritzers

Making spritzers is always so fun.  It brings out a bit of  magical witchiness with all the smelling and blending of precious elixirs into something amazing.

To start this project each girl received a blank label for her bottle.  Creative juices were flowing around our kitchen table as the labels were transformed with stencils and colored pencils.

With their finished labels adorned the girls came into the kitchen where I had laid out a variety of relaxing dreamy essential oils ~ lavender, cedarwood, ylang ylang, cardamom, orange and rose geranium.

The girls sniffed and explored each oil asking questions while formulating their own brew.   It was lovely to watch them each pick out what their nose was drawn too.  No blend was the same!  Once they had chosen oils we added them to beautiful cobalt blue spray bottles which were filled with water.  We stuck to using 5 to 6 drops of essential oil per ounce of water.  Then we screwed on the spray top; the girls added their labels; a shake and a spray and they were off to enjoy.

Foot Soaks

Last but not least, the girls indulged in warm salty foot soaks.  Deep pans and bowls for the girls to put their feet in were filled with very warm water and the girls, sitting in chairs, eased their feet into the water.  “Ah’s” and “oh’s” echoed around the room as their bodies visibly relaxed.

We had a variety of warming and relaxing things to add to their foot soaks: epsom salt, ground ginger, lavender blossoms and essential oil.  As they relaxed and softly chatted, I added what they chose to the water and  it was quiet for the first time in hours!

As they finished soaking, their feet were dried and we started foot rubs.  They each got  a squirt of an herbal infused oil enhanced with lots of lavender essential oil to rub on their feet.  The skin on our feet absorbs whatever we put on it very well so it is a great place to use natural oils for promoting health.  Lavender on the feet helps ease the body into peacefulness and calm.  After all this nice soaking and rubbing, the girls had their feet warm and snug in socks and they were off again to sleep…. well, I wasn’t that lucky but they were much calmer after all of our fun together!

Note:  Next time I hope to add in lots of delicious healthy herbal treats to our party plans to round out our plans.  Stay posted!

Eydie from Fanciful Faces was the incredible face painter we had to our house.  She was so fun and could paint anything the girls requested.  We had everything from a butterfly to a panda to Santa Claus to our dog’s exactly replicated on my youngest child’s face.  If you are in the Front Range of Colorado, check her out!

Categories: Aromatherapy For Kids, Bathing, Essential Oils, Herbal Crafts And Projects, Herbal Tips And Tricks, Herbs For Kids and Mamas, Parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Grapevine Magic

During high school I had a brief but very enjoyable sojourn into wreath making.  I was inspired to make wreaths after seeing them at our local craft fair, Molly McGee’s, which my mom and I frequented together each Holiday season. This was a passion for me and I reveled in placing delicate dried flowers, eucalyptus and ribbons around gracefully woven together grapevine finding the perfect position for each item.  As I journeyed around the wreath, placing and gluing each botanical the wreath would magically transform and surprise me with its result.

 So I was really excited to find mini grapevine wreaths at a local kid’s sale this fall because these wreaths were the perfect size to make into something magical with the kids at school.  This is a great project for all ages.  My girls and I also did this together at home and we had a great time together.

I always do my best to engage the kids as much as possible with the projects we do.  So I started them off with something they always love, glue.  Each child received a wreath, a Q-tip or paint brush and some Elmer’s glue.

painting with glue

I had them “paint” the glue all over the wreath and then we sprinkled glitter, ground cinnamon, and lavender blossoms all over the wreath.  My hope was to make the wreath smell good and sparkle.

sparkled and scented

After the wreaths dried it was time for the hot glue gun.  For decorating their wreaths the kids chose from some of the most lovely and fragrant dried botanicals: cinnamon sticks, star anise and tiny pink rose buds.  Working with each child I had them show me where they wanted to put things and then I glued them on with the hot glue gun.

star anise and baby roses

As magical as they are, hot glue guns can burn, so an adult should be in charge of using them.   At home, I did let my 6-year-old use the hot glue gun on her own  for the first time for this project.  After we talked about how to use the glue gun safely and with me watching closely, she did just fine.

hot gluing

I was surprised at how excited the kids were about this project.  As I started working with the first child a crowd gathered around the table where we were working.

Onlookers exclaiming, “Ms. Angela, what is that?”

“When will it be my turn?”

“Can I watch?”

I love it when they get excited!

As we worked together, the wreaths began to take shape under the guidance of each child.  And just like when I made my own wreaths long ago the results were a delightful surprise. Each one came out differently, unique like their little creators.  I think the wreaths are great and the kids were so proud!  We topped them off with a little ribbon for hanging and viola!

We used these in our Holiday gift bags but this would make a great craft anytime of year.

What you need for this project

  • grapevine wreath
  • star anise
  • cinnamon sticks
  • dried rose buds
  • ground cinnamon and/or other sweet ground spices
  • lavender blossoms
  • glitter
  • glue
  • hot glue gun

Other ideas for adding to a wreath

  • dried orange
  • dried apple slices
  • cloves
  • dried cranberries
  • Any other dried pretty or cool looking botanical

Have fun and happy crafting!

Shared on: Natural Living Link Up , It’s Playtime!, The Kid’s Co-op

Categories: Cinnamon and Spices, Herbal Gift Ideas, Herbs For Kids and Mamas, Lesson Plans For Preschool And Home, Playing With Herbs, Roses, Something Fun, Winter Holidays | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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