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August 2012

Mary's Modern Homemaking

Lavender: A Natural Miracle
By Mary Frances

Mary's Modern Homemaking archive


Lavender field at the Hood River Lavender Farm


Lavender is a wonderful plant. Its healing powers are amazing. From cleaning to personal care one should always have some available. There are many ways to keep lavender around: dried, to freshen up a closet, or essential oils for cleaning and personal care. Maybe you prefer a vase of fresh lavender to help keep your house smelling great or a bar of lavender-scented soap to freshen your skin.

The other day I took some time to go and smell the lavender. My visit to the Lavender Daze Festival at the Hood River Lavender Farm in Oregon's Hood River Valley was a pleasant experience. The two-acre family-owned farm grows many varieties of lavender, and on the weekend of July 21–22 there were at least twenty vendors offering lotions, soaps, and all sorts of goods made from lavender. But the best experience came in the form of a local author.

Sarah Bader was there to autograph her newly released book entitled The Lavender Lover's Handbook. This book is simply a must-have, whether you are an avid lavender fan or just want to learn more. I took some time to chat with Sarah and discovered what a story she has. Although she has had many struggles along the way, she has never given up. When she has been down, something has been there to pick her up again. Sometimes it is her love of lavender and getting her hands deep into the rich, earthy soil of her lavender farm near West Linn, Oregon; other times it is a family member or friend who says something to lift her spirits. While talking about her travels and the promotion of her book, she said the thing she is enjoying most is meeting the public and helping to educate people about the lavender plant.

You can learn more about Sarah's lavender farm and order her book at lavenderatstonegate.com.



My favorite thing in this book was learning more about the different varieties of lavender. The more than 100 varieties come in other colors besides purple; colors range from white to pink; who knew? Some varieties bloom from early spring to late summer, so no matter what zone you live in there is a plant for your area.

I encourage everyone to try to get to a lavender farm. If you have the time, visit a festival, pack up the family, and go enjoy a day or two of heaven. No time? No problem. Many small local farms allow you to pick a bunch of lavender to take home. Just look for a "you pick" place. Even spending just a small amount of time will allow you to indulge your senses. And if you pick up a copy of Sarah's book, it will tell you, step by step, how to dry lavender for use later.



But lavender is a lot more than a plant that smells good. It has amazing powers. Every household should have a bottle of essential oil in the kitchen and in a first aid kit. Did you know that lavender provides a natural defense against E. coli and salmonella? Just use a little spray of this disinfectant (recipe below) and wipe; germs are gone naturally. No need for harsh chemicals.

Below is my favorite version of a disinfectant recipe. After searching the Internet and finding a million different recipes, I came up with this one. Go ahead and experiment. To the following recipe one could add essential oil of vanilla, or how about lemon? You will soon find a combination that works best for you.

Lavender Disinfectant

This recipe makes enough to fill one 24-ounce spray bottle.

1/4 cup distilled white or apple cider vinegar; either is fine
5 to 10 drops lavender essential oil*
1 drop of your favorite dish soap; environmentally safe soap is a good choice

Fill the spray bottle with water, a good shake, and it's ready to use.

Once this is mixed, I pour some into my travel-size spray bottle and slip it into my bag.

* Note: Therapeutic grade, 100% organic essential oils are best.

How many of you have noticed the tables at fast food restaurants lately? Seems the world is not as sanitary as we would like it to be. With my handy travel-size spray bottle I truly embarrass my family by wiping down the table and chairs before sitting. Even when the employees wipe down the tables, have you noticed the condition of the rag? Yuck! How about those public bathrooms? Disgusting! I have visited a few that did not even offer seat protection. Do they honestly think I am going anywhere near them? Not a chance. So I spray and wipe them, too. I am never without my disinfectant. Try it, you'll like it.

Your kitchen has many places for bacteria growth. Every time you cook with meat it's possible to spread E. coli or salmonella. First, wash your hands often while cooking. Second, use the lavender disinfectant on your counters and cutting boards often. (For cutting boards, just spray and either let air-dry or wipe off with a soft, clean cloth.) Wipe down the kitchen faucets and handles. If some meat juices get onto your cupboard doors, wipe them, too. This spray is good for everywhere.

As I mentioned earlier, keep a small bottle of lavender essential oil in the first aid kit. It is great on scrapes, small cuts, and burns. Years ago, I burned my arm very badly while frying chicken. The next day a friend (who is totally into natural ointments) saw the burn and gave me some lavender oil. She said, "Put this on the burn, and it will heal with little or no scarring." So I rubbed in the lavender oil and repeated the procedure often. That was five years ago—no scar at all, and no one would ever know I got burned.

On a final note: have trouble sleeping? Putting a few drops of lavender oil on a handkerchief and sliding it under your pillow can be better than a cup of warm milk. Good night, lights out.



Mary Frances lives in Ravensdale, Washington, and loves finding healthy ways to keep her castle clean. She believes that what we clean with can be just as important to our health as what we eat. When she's not cleaning, Mary Frances battles the blackberry vines in her yard. Also enjoy Mary Frances's blog, All American Gal.


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