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.