I was paging through Instagram this past weekend (as one does) and fell totally in love with all the lavender fields popping up on my feed. A sigh of longing bubbled up from deep inside, when it suddenly occurred to me that we live near a lot of farms, and that there might even be a lavender farm nearby...
Read on for our adventure and five more uses for lavender below!
What We're Wearing:
We live in Philadelphia, and the surrounding farms in Bucks County and New Jersey are incredible. Check out our trip to a nearby tulip farm this spring! Also love that we managed matching thrifted looks on that trip as well.
Here we're wearing our new spring dresses by sustainable designer Doên. My dress is still available here, and here is one similar to Harper's that's still available.
A quick Google search revealed a handful of quaint lavender farms in our vicinity. I picked this one, Peace Valley Lavender Farm, based both on proximity and Trip Advisor reviews. Next, I sweet- talked my husband into a "spontaneous family adventure!" Peace Valley Lavender Farm is only 25 miles from Philadelphia, but the trip still takes an hour because it's all back roads to get there. We enjoyed the ride, though, passing endless charming colonial farmhouses, antique shops, the most haunted-looking, creepiest castle we've ever seen, and even some animal farms. The kids weren't as keen on peeping lavender, but the emus, llamas, cows, and chickens we spotted along the way more than delighted them. I myself was delighted when I got home and realized it had been almost one solid year since I'd first learned about lavender and written about 6 easy uses for it in a previous post published on June 29, 2018. I love those kind of coincidences!
Here's an updated list following a year of learning, an adventure at an actual lavender farm, and my discussion with its friendly owner, Patti Lyons*, who was kind enough to share some of her expertise and recommendations with me!
*Incidentally, Patti shared that the best times to get your lavender pics are usually the third or fourth week of June but that some varieties of lavender will bloom again in the fall.
5 More Uses For Lavender
1. Preserved- Lavender Lemons
In the Peace Valley Lavender Farm gift shop, I couldn't resist purchasing a copy of The Lavender Cookbook by Sharon Shipley, even though I am a TERRIBLE cook and should never be allowed near a kitchen. (Don't worry, you guys. My husband writes the recipes for my food section!)
The cookbook (pictured above) is made of beautiful parchment paper, filled with luscious illustrations, and even scented with lavender. Non-existent cooking abilities, it was irresistible.
As I was checking out, I got to chatting with Patti, the owner of Peace Valley Lavender Farm. She was really sweet and helpful and told me if I only make one recipe from the book-- it was like she could see inside my devious mind-- it should be lemons preserved in lavender.
"Whenever you make a Mediterranean dish, lavender lemons will give it such a kick!"
I nodded and agreed whole-heartedly, even though I had NO CLUE what she was talking about as my idea of the ideal flavor is mixing canned chili with pre-shedded Mexican cheese. However, my husband got inspired when I shared her tip with him, and I figured any of the cooks out there who stumble on this blog could benefit from her tips as well! I found an extremely similar recipe to the one in the book at Homespun Living. The only difference is Sharon Shipley recommends adding extra virgin olive oil to the top of your mixture before sealing up the jars, as well as 1/3 cup of sugar (for 8 lemons not 2) and 3 tablespoons of minced garlic. When we make it, I'll definitely share the recipe to my food section!
2. Lavender Sachets as a Natural Moth Solution
One year ago, we were living in a modern apartment. Since then, we've moved into a very old house. It was renovated down to its studs before we moved in, but we still have a little bit of a bug situation, which is normal I suppose when you're living smack in a garden instead of 11 stories high up in the air. Well, did you know lavender is a natural moth deterrent? Mothballs can contain dangerous pesticides, but lavender is all natural (obviously!) and an old home-maker's trick. It's also Martha Stewart-approved. Read more about her endorsement of this old trick here.
3. Lavender for Insomnia
I mentioned this tip last time I wrote about lavender here, but as someone who's been suffering from a bout of insomnia recently I was happy to have this tip recalled to my memory! If you're suffering from insomnia, it's really helpful to add lavender to your nighttime routine and to create a soothing atmosphere in your bedroom before you try to fall asleep. I still love my little humidifier and it's worth the extra minute to fill it with water and turn it on before I go to sleep. You can even add essential oils like lavender to it. Did you know lavender essential oils offer calming and soothing properties that help reduce stress?
4. Lavender Oil for Cleaning
I also forgot about this tip from my last post! Granted, it's a lot easier to keep a big, old house smelling fresh than it was a packed-tight apartment. However, we still have a cat bathroom, and I remember now how much it helped neutralize odors to add real lavender oil to our lavender-scented Mrs. Meyer's cleaning bottles. Lavender oil has tremendous antibacterial and deodorizing properties!
5. Lavender Tea
As you can see from the first picture above, lavender can be drunk as well as eaten. The lavender sodas we bought at the farm were perfect for a hot summer day but a little high in sugar for regular consumption. Not only does lavender have many external uses, but you can also add lavender both to recipes or to teas. Making lavender tea is very easy as well! You simply place the lavender buds into a tea ball or sachet and steep in hot water for a few minutes. (Just make sure you purchase the edible kind.)
Lavender has all kind of health properties when applied internally or externally. You can also read more about the many magical uses of lavender at Medical News Today. Do you use lavender in your daily life?
Recently, we moved into a new apartment in Philadelphia, which means I went through my regular routine of trying to settle in while experiencing about a month of insomnia. It strikes every time I move, but this time I decided to be more pro-active. Lavender oil was incredibly helpful at helping me reestablish a night-time routine, and in my research I also stumbled upon this recipe for lavender tea (below) and had to try it. Ever since my pregnancy with my first baby, I'd been hearing about the magical, soothing properties of lavender. Here are a few of my favorites that I've learned about since then. Would you try lavender tea? Does it sound as good to you as it did to me?
1. Lavender Scrubs to Revitalize Winter Skin
Not only is lavender great for eliminating the nervous tension caused by, oh, childbirth-- before I gave birth every blog I encountered, insisted I had to pack lavender oil for my hospital stay-- but it improves blood circulation as well. Put a few drops of lavender oil into your next foot scrub or foot soak. Along with epsom salts and sea salt, just add a few drops! (Or check out this recipe for more details for an at-home spa soak.) Keep in mind the smell is pretty strong, so experiment before you dump in, say, a whole tablespoon the way I did to my diffuser the first time I used lavender-- oh dear God, that was an intense two weeks before the smell faded, which brings us to point 2.
2. Lavender for Insomnia
You can add a few drops of lavender oil to your diffuser if you're suffering from insomnia. Again, keep in mind and learn from Mama Izzy's misadventures. A little goes a long way. I love this
diffuser for only $23, because you can also use it as a humidifier and it's super duper easy to refill the water and keep it clean as well. My kids love the changing lights. It's one of my favorite possessions.
3. Lavender as an Ingredient in Dessert
One of the things I've loved most about blogging is having my world opened up to new possibilities. When I first started blogging, I mostly followed either poetry or fashion pages, but as I began to join blogging communities, lots of recipes and interior design inspiration got added to my daily blog intake. I love the idea that you can add lavender to honey and cheese or to cupcakes or to puddings. The result is so pretty a purple it's just guaranteed to be delicious. I pinned a bunch of the yummiest options that I can't wait to try myself. Just keep in mind, it's not lavender oil but loose, dried lavender, which you can ingest and purchase for about $20 a pound. If possible, maybe even find someone to share that pound with. A pound of lavender is A LOT of lavender.
3. Lavender Tea
I was so excited to hear of lavender as an ingredient in tea, because I knew about it's calming, soothing, and antiseptic qualities when applied externally. I had no idea you could also drink it! Lavender is an anti-inflammatory that also helps maintain cardiovascular health. In addition to its antiseptic qualities,
4. Lavender Candles
When I was looking into uses for my giant bag of lavender, one of my followers suggested I try making my own candles. One of my favorite memories from childhood is making candles at Busch Gardens when I was a kid, and I think my kids would really enjoy making candles with me! I love this Town & Country blog post for making your own candles. It sounds like a fun rainy Saturday afternoon activity.
5. Lavender Oil for Cleaning
The cat bathroom has to be my least favorite part of apartment living, although to be fair in our last house, the basement was only half-finished, so I ended up using the top floor bathroom for the kitty litter for the kitties' safety as well. (We have two rescue cats and one large Newfie... and two toddlers-- keeping the house smelling nice used to be, well, challenging. Lavender has really helped our situation!) When I heard I could use lavender for cleaning, I began adding it to the cat bathroom's garbage can after I washed them out and sprinkling it around the litter box. The smell is about 1,000% better in there!
6. Upcycling Garment Bags into Lavender Sachets
Most of the sustainable designers and secondhand shops where I shop, now send their items in little muslin sachets like the ones pictured above. Making sachets is probably not that difficult, either, but it takes about two minutes to gather your muslin bags and fill them with lavender from my pound bag. The kids watched Wreck-It Ralph, and I poured a glass of wine and listened to John Mulaney on Pandora's comedy channel. Maybe it was the soothing scent of lavender filling my nostrils, but it was one of the nicest, most relaxing evenings I've had in a while. And the first two sachets, went straight to the cat bathroom! Thankfully, cats aren't as attracted to lavender as they are catnip, which is kind of what the little bags look like. I've also been leaving them throughout the house.
Do you keep the bags your jewelry or clothes come in? Sometimes I reuse them for gift-wrapping as well! Any other uses for lavender that I should know about? Be sure to let me know in the comments below, and I'll do a follow-up post!