Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’ve tasked myself with leading you on a meandering tour of the virtual garden of delights and curiosities and thoughts that make up my world – all through the lens of unusual, obscure, or simply charming-to-me words.
Y is for…
yeppsen: (obsolete) the amount that can be held in two hands cupped together; two hands cupped together
I had a conversation with friends the other day about family recipes and we all had examples of how our grandmothers or elderly relatives weren’t tied to the strict measuring of ingredients – a handful of this, a pinch of that. It made me think about my own methods. Sometimes I’m very precise – when creating botanical perfumes I often weigh ingredients. It’s essential if you ever want to recreate something specific, and if you’re experimenting and working out a formula, weighing and extensive notes as you progress and shift things is crucial.
On the other hand, there are many times when working with herbs and botanicals that I’m very loose in my measuring techniques. For example when making dream pillows or bath teas.
Herbal pillows used to promote sleep and dreams have been used for centuries, and the recipes for what to put in them are as numerous as there are makers. They’re meant to be tucked inside pillowcases or directly under pillows, or simply laid next to your pillow, so their fragrance wafts its magic throughout the night (or perhaps during a delicious afternoon nap).
Some time ago I created a bunch of dream pillows to gift my friends with, and I started by painting little rectangles of muslin, which I then sewed together and stuffed with an herbal blend. I’ve also made a few using vintage hankies that belonged to my grandmother and I especially love those. If you don’t like to sew you can use muslin bags or other light-weight fabrics – just make sure you tie them tightly, and possibly double-bag so the herbs don’t leak out.
I like to refresh my blends at least every couple of months so I simply open the stitches in my pillow, empty out the old material and fill it up with new.
When I make blends, I often let them sit overnight on an altar in the moonlight, and I usually rest some crystals in it, both to add their beautiful energy to the blend and to give them a little refreshing little treat as well. Win-win.
This blend included mugwort, hops, lavender, chamomile, rosemary, damiana, and rose petals.
Other choices might include some of combination of the following: sweet marjoram, peppermint, catnip, lemon balm, lemon verbena, spearmint, calendula, mullein, valerian, jasmine petals. I always encourage using organic materials – you certainly don’t want to make a habit of prolonged breathing in of any pesticides.
After all we are looking for sweet dreams.
Herbal teas for the bath are wonderful things as well, and can be made for all kinds of reasons. You can bundle a handful or two of appropriate herbs into a square of cheesecloth or a muslin bag that can be tied and then placed under the running water. You want to infuse the water without actually having to deal with plant bits floating in the water and potentially messing with the plumbing.
You can also make actual teas, as in steeped liquids, to add directly to your water as well. Here’s a nice recipe for a relaxing bath:
- handful of dried lavender flower; handful of dried chamomile flowers; optional: a pinch of dried roses or hibiscus or something else you love
- Fill a small sauce pan with water leaving enough room to add the flowers. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. It’ll be nice and dark. Strain the flower bits out of liquid and then add the liquid to your bath.
So tell me do you have any practices to encourage sleep or relaxation? Any special dream practices? What do you want to gather by handfuls? Do tell, I’d love to hear.
Handfuls of the universe.
So, are the pillows you make like sachets? I have a particular bed routine, but it’s very mundane.
Yes, although probably a bit larger than most of the sachets I’ve seen. Mundane is good – a lot of excitement before heading off to sleep is probably counterproductive. 🙂
Nice word, yeppsen, never heard about it.
Y is for Young
I do have a penchant for the obscure. 🙂
Love the word.
My grandmothers used to use ‘glass’ of something… I think they were using the remaining glass from a memorial candle (God forbid you throw anything out)
Good idea of steeping tea to add to the bath! The sleep pillows sound very awesome.
And now that you’re working with essential oils Jade, you can add some of them to your baths as well.
I learnt a new word today Yeppsen thanks for sharing about the herbal pillows and usage of tea. I am new to all this.
That’s so much part of the fun of the A-to-Z Challenge isn’t it – learning lots of new things and meeting new folks!
Yeppsen is how my grandmother and mother measured quantities of daal or rice 🙂
This made me smile and sigh: “you certainly don’t want to make a habit of prolonged breathing in of any pesticides.”
Thank you Deborah for sharing your sleep-dream pillow recipes and that picture of dried flowers with crystals on an altar–holding them both close to my heart.
I have never dried flowers to keep. Today’s post is giving me ideas. Cheers.
Love Yamini’s ‘handful of the universe’–such a comforting thought at times like these.
I think you’ll find you get to enjoy your flowers doubly once you start working with them dried as well Arti. It’s always lovely to enclose some petals in letters or packages too. That way the garden gets to travel. 🙂
It depends so much on the recipe, doesn’t it? I tend to follow the instructions the first few times, and then do it by eye. I’m particularly pleased this week to have a set of copper measuring cups up on the wall in the kitchen – they’ve been following me round a succession of rented flats ever since my mother bought them for me several years ago, and now they’ve finally found their place
I think you’re right about the recipes Kathleen. And I’m delighted to hear you’re settling into your home and enjoying your treasures.
I don’t have a particular bedtime routine. I’m a good sleeper so pretty much I thunk down and go to sleep. As for gathering things by the yeppsen, I’d like to gather handfuls of herbs from the garden later this summer. That’d bring me joy.
I’m loving the image of you thunking down and immediately entering the land of ZZZs.
I hope your herbal garden is abundant this year Ally, and you get to harvest all kinds of deliciousness.
Wow, I love this word and it’s a new one for me.
The bath teas idea made me think of that old joke: Would you care to join me in a cup of tea? I don’t think we’d both fit.
I have a habit of not keeping very good records when I’m messing with a recipe, and then if it turns out fantastic I have a tough time recreating it. Oh well.
That’s a terrible joke Anne, and of course I’m laughing. I’ve come to think it’s best to think of recipe tweaking as one offs. Sometimes you win with a really good thing, and sometimes it’s a fail. Oh well indeed.
I knew a Japanese guy who, when cooking a restaurant sized saucepan of rice, would pour in the rice, place a half fisted hand knuckles down on the surface of the rice and then add water till it reached his wrist. (He brought to the boil and then turned heat to the lowest setting, covered. It always cooked perfectly with no draining necessary) – Another “measure by hand” example.
I have enjoyed your A to Z although not read all of them properly and will be returning to do so now that there is more time…
Oh that’s a fabulous story Andrew!
I’m looking forward to catching up on lots of posts I’ve missed as well. This was an exceptionally challenging April and I ending up visiting exponentially fewer blogs/posts than I have in the past. Sigh. Luckily, writing doesn’t have a expiration date. 🙂
Dear Deborah, reading your post led me down a whirlwind journey and you ended up becoming part of a post for today https://how-would-you-know.blogspot.com/2020/05/bread-and-circuses-metonymic-akashic.html I hope that you will be alright with it and that we might correspond more in future…
Hi Deborah – Yeppsen – what an amazing word … and so evocative of ‘two cups’ and what you can hold. Such an interesting word … and I’m sure before we used a cup … our ancestors were using ‘hands of’. You’re so talented and knowledgeable about your herbs and potions – they all sound delightful – and so kind making some up for your friends. Take care – Hilary
It is a wonderful word isn’t it Hilary?! Wishing you handfuls of delight in all things. Stay well.