Cross-stitched herbal sachets

These pretty little sachets are made from a cross-stitch kit we sell, I wish I could say that I had stitched them but sadly … no time … but they were beautifully made for me by Gladys Dorr and don’t they look lovely!

I love having fragrance around the house and sachets and little bags of goodies feature heavily in many of the rooms here. Some I fill with lavender, little sachets for example in drawers and with the linen and towels in the airing cupboard. But sometimes I want a different effect, which is where making your own pot pourri comes in handy!

It depends what type of smell you enjoy the most – some people are very flowery, others prefer clean piney smells – I am very fond of citrusy smells and often use oranges and lemons for these projects.

This is a recipe for pot pourri I have used for many years:

Strawberry and orange preserve pot pourri

  • 2 cups chopped dried orange peel
  • 2 cups rose hips
  • ½ cup black peppercorns
  • 1 cup white peppercorns,
  • 1 cup strawberry leaves
  • 1 cup orris root soaked in 2tsp strawberry oil
  • 1 tsp sweet orange oil
  • A few drops of black pepper oil

Combine all the ingredients and leave to mature in a sealed ziplock bag for 3 weeks. Then display or fill little sacks like these.

Another idea is something much more feminine –  and dating back to Elizabethan times

Spiced roses for your linens

Rose petals dried in the shade with cloves ground to a powder and some dried mace.

As the recipe is so old there are no quantities but I used a large spoon of mace and clove combined with every cup or so of quite tightly packed rose petals. In Elizabethan times I am sure the rose petals would all have had a lovely smell, whereas today they rarely do. So add a few drops of rose essential oil before mixing everything together. Leave it overnight and then fill little bags.

Have a look on Google for a supplier of orris root or essential oils, they are fairly easy to find!

 

 

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No need to shell out!

I hate throwing things away, especially natural things, so I’m always interested in ideas for recycling. Egg shells are of course lovely things in their own right, and we’ve talked about blowing and painting them before… but what about the typical broken egg shells that we throw away every day after we’ve used the eggs?

My Hen Pal, Julia Wherrell obviously has lots of eggshells and has some interesting ideas on what to do with them, plus some ideas she’s been told by other hen enthusiasts… see what you make of these…

1. Sprinkle broken up eggshell around your garden to deter pests

Soft-bodied insects like slugs or snails don’t like crawling over sharp pieces of shell, I find it works really well.

2. Give your tomatoes a calcium boost

Blossom-end rot is a common tomato problem and it’s caused by a calcium deficiency in the plant. A very successful veg gardener friend of mine puts eggshells in the bottom of the hole when he plants out his tomatoes to help combat this problem. I’m definitely trying this next year as my tomatoes were rubbish this year!

3. Use them to start seedlings

I think this is a lovely idea, especially if you are short of space. Give your smaller seedlings a start in rinsed-out shells! An egg box fits perfectly on a small windowsill so use this to hold your eggshells. They need to be at least half shell in size, so try and remember that when you’re next cracking some eggs, rinse them clean and then plant up your seedlings as normal but obviously, best to stick to smaller things, like herbs. When you come to plant out, gently crush the shell as you plant it and it will decompose in the soil around your plant.

4. Compost them

Add calcium to your compost by adding shells to your compost bin.

5. Sow directly into the soil

If you don’t have time, energy or inclination to compost, simply dig crushed shells directly into your garden. It’s still better than just chucking them out!

 

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Blackberry vinegar for coughs & colds

This week, it’s a guest blog from my writing pal and foraging guru Julia Horton-Powdrill. Julia’s website is full of useful tips, fascinating facts and lovely dollops of humour as is her Facebook page for her annual Really Wild Food & Countryside Festival.

“This recipe is here to coincide with the blackberry season so that you can stock up on this for the winter. Do use local honey if possible, and cider vinegar rather than any other kind.

You will need:

  • 1 pint of fresh, clean blackberries
  • 1 pint cider vinegar
  • 1lb local honey
  • ½ cup brown sugar

Put blackberries in a jar with the cider vinegar and soak for a week, shaking the jar every so often. Strain through cheesecloth collecting the juice in a pan. Add the honey & sugar and bring to the boil, stirring until dissolved. Allow to cool then bottle and close with a tight cork. Store in a refrigerator or cool place. When a cough, cold or sore throat arises, mix a tablespoon of the mixture with 1 cup of hot water and drink.

PS. This combination of ingredients is so versatile, you needn’t restrict yourself to using it just as a remedy. It makes a lovely warming drink even if you don’t have a cold! You can also use it as a marinade, and if you add olive oil it can be used for a salad dressing!”

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Gardening myths…

I came across something that so surprised me in a recent edition of the (very excellent) RHS magazine ‘The Garden’, that it set me thinking about myths as a topic for my blog…

The Garden announced that, after proper research, there is no scientific evidence that watering in bright light causes damage to plant leaves. Well, you could have knocked me down with a dahlia! I’d always believed that watering in sunshine was very bad. It can, obviously, be wasteful at a very hot time as the water will just evaporate, but generally it is fine.

What do you get if you chop an earthworm in half? Haven’t we always been told ‘two worms’? Actually, it’s mostly a dead worm. The trouble is that if a worm is cut in two, both halves wriggle, and they may continue for some time. The head end, the bit with the fat broad saddle segments about one-quarter down the length, may even burrow off into the soil again. The good news is that, with luck, the head end may survive, and the tail cut might heal, if it can cope with infections, huge loss of body fluids and all the other problems associated with major injury trauma. The tail, however, will eventually stop moving and die. Sorry, rather depressing…

So, what are your favourite gardening myths – true or otherwise? Let’s hear them!

Smiles, Joanna

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Triple fold envelope card

This sumptuous and very special card will delight anyone who receives it. It can be made in a variety of sizes, some people love making huge cards, some very small – I would aim for somewhere in the middle.

To make the basic card you need a triple fold – so three panels of equal width. I used an A3 sheet to start with but you can also buy triple fold card blanks (from Craft Creations) if you don’t like having larger sheets of card in stock!

Once you have the triple fold then using a guillotine of just a pencil, ruler and scissors, trim the out fold into a triangle to create the envelope concept. Then using flowers from “If Flowers Could Talk”, decorate the edge of the envelope ‘flap’. The strip at the bottom can simply be a couple of strips of gold peeloffs or you can layer a thin strip of matching card onto gold mirri and attach it to the main card. The butterfly and wording are both peeloffs to but could just as easily be die cuts.

The inside is simply constructed with an insert from that same CD which features the words from Patience Strong together with artwork from Jayne Netley-Mayhew. Layer the insert onto some backing paper to fill the inside panel of the card and decorate.

The basic idea of this card is so very versatile it can be tweaked to produce lots of different creations depending on the images and ideas you have. Have a go and see what you think!

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