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?
I love coincidences, don't you? Whether they're actually signs from the cosmos is debatable. (I guess. I vote yes!!) However, superstition aside, I've always found that paying attention to recurring themes that pique my curiosity always lead to equally intriguing discoveries. About two weeks ago, I happened to order Biossance's squalane and vitamin c rose oil at the same time as a friend of mine sent me samples of rosehip oil from her new green beauty company Dowey Laugh based out of Portland, Oregon. At the same time as all of that, I was suddenly seeing rosehip oil all over my Instagram feed, touted by my favorite beauty bloggers. Why are rose and rosehip oils suddenly so popular, I wondered? Was it just another blogger trend or something deeper and more magical to do with roses themselves?
I'm happy to report the latter is the case! I've always loved the scent of roses. One of my husband's first gifts to me when he was courting me-- aside: marry the one who woos you-- was a tiny bottle of rose scent he ordered from Bulgaria. (Another aside: did you know Bulgaria is called the Land of Roses? How romantic, right? I still have the little bottle. It came sealed with a wax rose, and I swear I can still kind of smell it, and it takes me back to 2009 when we met.) Another, less personal plus to the new rose oil craze: I know you all are probably super saturated with green beauty bloggers pushing coconut oil. Well, I am sooo excited to report I have found the remedy for that oversaturation (pun semi-intended) and for many other skin issues: rosehip oil!
1. What is Rosehip Oil?
First of all, keep in mind rosehip oil is not an essential oil and is in fact different from rose oil! Rose essential oil is made from rose petals while rosehip oil, also called rose hip seed oil, comes from the seeds of rose hips. Rose hips are the fruit left behind after a rose has flowered and dropped its petals.
For facial skin care, rosehip oil like coconut oil is a non-greasy oil that offers several benefits when applied externally. It protects the skin and increases cell turnover because it contains beta carotene (a form of vitamin A), vitamin C and vitamin E which are all antioxidants that help fight free radicals-- aka a fancy phrase for the aging process.
2. Why Is Rosehip Oil Anti-Aging?
It's a very rich source of vitamin c for one! One of the richest plant sources, actually! Vitamin C stimulates collagen production, and the oils are able to penetrate deep into the skin's layers to repair damage, improve moisture, and reduce signs of aging. In fact, it's so effective some doctors are calling it a "natural alternative to Botox". Sign me up! Needles terrify me, so Botox sounds particularly unappetizing. I haven't used the rosehip oil long enough to comment on longterm benefits, but I have noticed, after applying it, my skin has a nice glow!
3. What Are Some Other Benefits of Using Rosehip Oil?
If anti-aging isn't your concern, using rosehip oil probably can probably still benefit you. Its many applications are astonishing. In fact, it was made into a rationed syrup in World War 2 and used to help children fight infection. Applied externally, it can also protect from sunspots, help with stretch marks and reduce acne-scarring, boost the immune system, help with osteoarthritis, and help with eczema among a myriad of other benefits.
4. How Much Does Rosehip Oil Cost?
As I mentioned above, I'm beginning to see rosehip oil from a variety of brands from pretty pricey $68 bottles in high-end brands like Biossance to Kora or this bottle of plain, unvarnished rosehip oil from The Ordinary for only $9.80. (I have their $6 glass bottle of hylauronic acid, which I use every night before I put on my moisturizer, and it's amazing.) If you want a more affordable but still pretty mixture, Dowey Laugh offers a gorgeous, all natural option for only $38. Half the price of similar oils at Sephora!
5. Tips on Applying Rosehip Oil
Keep it cool. Rosehip oil is a natural ingredient, so it can go rancid, eek! And if you are investing in a pricier bottle, that would be heartbreaking! The best kind is cold-pressed, although it's more expensive and might explain the difference in price points. It retains the most nutrients. To see the most benefits, use it twice a day on your skin and neck. The good news (as far as priciness goes) is you only need a couple drops at a time! If you're using it to combat acne scars, keep in mind it is an oil and shouldn't be used on active acne as it might clog pores. Consider adding a few drops to your bathwater. There isn't a lot of science on this yet, but there's a chance rosehip oil can help with arthritis and inflammation. Either way, it can't hurt!
Here's a link to another post listing a few more benefits of using rosehip oil, including the cool fact that Kate Middleton and Miranda Kerr number among its fans! Do you plan to try rosehip oil? Here's a coupon to my friends shop if you do. (I don't personally benefit btw, other than the satisfaction of helping a friend succeed at something that clearly has benefits for us all!)