Valentines Day is just around the corner and that special someone in your life is expecting something special. Can you afford to go out and buy them something sparkly and gold? Have you already bought them something like this and now it’s time for something different? Have you ever considered giving them something you created yourself, as a special gift that takes thought and consideration? Is your special someone who would enjoy something special like this? If so, then consider making something sweet, lovely, warm and creative that will leave them with something they can use all year and perhaps think of you every time they do.
Most of these projects are very simple and require very few ingredients. The ingredients they do require are easy to find for the most part and where they aren’t, I either provide links or good leads on where to find them. Overall, I truly believe that making these items yourself not only saves you money but it also stimulates your creativity and craftiness. Once you see how nice the items are that you can make, you may be motivated to keep going. Natural products are safe, holistic, organic, cheaper, funner and more full of love! Only the most jaded lover or partner would reject these thoughtful, loving gifts because they weren’t made in China or came from Walmart! Remember the days when we used to be able to buy local, handmade arts and crafts that cost a bit more but had truly lasting value and were usually made here in the good old U.S.A? Well, it’s up to use to rekindle that kind of quality product. Give it a try. Who knows maybe you’ll be so good at it you’ll end up selling your product to your neighbors! At the very least, you will have given someone you love the ultimate expression of love: something you took the time and energy to make, just for them! Happy Valentines Day!
You will need:
10 cups fresh Rose Petals
1/2 cup Block Salt
1/2 cup table Salt
2 tbsp ground Mace
2 tbsp ground Cloves
2 tbsp ground Allspice
2 tbsp ground Nutmeg
1 stick Cinnamon, crushed
3/4 cup dried powdered Orris Root
1 cup dried Red Rosebuds
4 or 5 drops Oil of Rose
If you choose to use fresh Rose petals from the garden you must first dry them until they are leathery. Not crispy or crumbly but leathery, which is sort of thick and still soft and flexible. Once your petals are dry and leathery, then move on to the next step. Do not start this recipe with already very dry, crumbly petals. Any petals used should be only partially dried and still flexible. This is accomplished by air drying and by not using salts or other drying agents.
Mix the salts (block and table) together in a bowl. In a glass or earthenware container, make layers of semi dry Rose Petals and the Salt mixture, beginning and finishing with the Rose Petals. Just be sure that each layer of petals is completely covered with a layer of salt, except, of course, for the top layer of petals.
Cover and leave for 10 days in a dry, airy room, stirring the mixture each day. The petals will ferment as they dry and by the end of this stage, they will form a crumbly block. At this point, break up the block of petals and stir in the spices. Recover the mixture in the same container and set aside for an entire six weeks. Stir it frequently as you wait, at least once a day
At the end of six weeks, stir in the Oil of Rose, making sure it is spread into the mixture completely. Allow the Rose Oil to “permeate” a little, perhaps for a day. Now you may transfer the finished Potpourri to containers or bags. If you put this mix into individual fabric bags they can be tied with ribbons or strings and given as sachets. This mix can also be packed into clear plastic bags and tied with fabric wire and given as potpourri. Other ideas for giving this mix is to add it to a homemade or handmade tabletop garden; package it and give it with a ceramic or wood bowl for presentation; put it in glass or ceramic containers with lids to be displayed and used; glue it on the outside of homemade candles or along the sides of a handmade wreath; make potpourri “sticks” to be burnt like incense or just used as decorations. You can be as creative as you want to be!! Come up with original packaging and make this gift not only personal but also individual; one of a kind. I know someone who used rose potpourri to make a pomander and someone else who used it to decorate the fabric frame of a handmade Victorian style mirror. The possibilities are endless.
You will need:
You can obtain denatured Ethyl Alcohol at most well stocked pharmacies or through the link given above. It is also available at Chemical and Pharmaceutical supply companies and online from various vendors. However you do not have to used only the denatured version, although this is purest, but you can also use any other variation of Ethyl Alcohol, including Vodka or natural grain Alcohol. Keep it at room temperature for your perfume making experiments.
You can use any combination of flowers and/or herbs in this recipe. It is up to you and your choice will become more refined as you practice with making scents. Just make sure that you match the amount of Ethyl Alcohol with any amount of materials, as measured above.
Regarding the use of fresh Orange Blossoms, I must add that these are hard to find. Unless you live near an orchard or a grove, where you can pick them fresh, you may be reduced to ordering dried blossoms, which are not as good. You can forego these in favor of other fresh picked flowers if you wish but if you do decide to go with dried ones, you can use the link I gave above for a fresh dried Tea mixture that is mostly Orange Blossoms. Otherwise, you can pick your own or get them from a friend or relative who lives near orchards or groves.
The basic method for making all Floral Waters is simple. Obtain a clean, sterilized screw-top jar and put all of the flowers and herbs into. Pack it until you have used all of your chosen plant materials. Pour over the Ethyl Alcohol until the right amount has been added. If it overflows, start over with a bigger jar.
Seal this jar up tight with the screw cap. Leave for 6 days in a partially sunny/ partially shady place like a windowsill, counter top or ledge. Shake occassionally to loosen up the materials which can become clotted. After the 6 days, strain this mixture out through a wire strainer. Collect the liquid and bottle it in a dark glass bottle… NOT a clear bottle. Store in a dark, warm cabinet or closet for a week and then transfer to the bottle you wish to give it in. An antique, Victorian style colored bottle from a thrift store can be gorgeous. Stopper it cleanly with a cork or a lock on cap and tie with ribbons or glue on a personalized label. The best idea, I think, is stoppering it with a cork and wire, tieing the neck with short satin ribbons and then glueing a colorful, cheery valentine on the bottle before giving. No matter how you do it, this will make a lovely presentation and every time splashes it on, they will be thinking of you. Just try to resist sniffing all the time, to see if he or she is wearing it!
Rose Petal Jam
You will need:
1 lb fresh Rose Petals
6-8 Rose Scented Geranium Leaves
3 cups Sugar
1 1/4 cups Water
3 tbsp Lemon Juice
Before starting this recipe, I must make some notes about Rose Scented Geranium leaves. These are hard to find and are not readily available in stores. In fact, I believe the only way you can obtain these leaves is from a fresh plant. You might try florists, craft stores or herbalists first but if you hit a dead end, then I recommend you purchase a fresh plant from a nearby nursery and take the leaves from this. This plant makes a precious and useful addition to any garden so this is the best advice I can give you. Plant your own. You will be amazed to find out how many great herbal and natural craft works (including cosmetics, perfumes, potpourris, candles and cleaning products) you can make from this plant alone. It is worth the investment in money and energy.
Start this project by first picking off the white bases (heels) from the Rose Petals. Discard any damaged or discolored Petals. Keep only the best!! Wash and dry these Petals and the Geranium Leaves carefully. Wash thoroughly with cool water and then pat dry. The easiest way to do this is to place them in a strainer and run water over them until it runs clear.
Place the Petals and Leaves into a glass or ceramic bowl. Stir in half the Sugar. Mix the Sugar into the Petals and Leaves really well and then cover the bowl. Leave for 2 days, stirring occasionally. After two days, discard the Geranium Leaves.
Put the remaining Sugar, Water and Lemon Juice into a cooking pan and heat over medium heat. Heat only until the Sugar dissolves. Do not boil. Stir in the Rose Petal mixture. As soon as the Sugar has completely dissolved, turn up the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil rapidly for 20 minutes and stir occasionally until the Jam reaches setting point. The thickness of the jelly should be consistant and firm.
Spoon the warm Jam into glass jars and lock. Allow to cool in a dry, dark place. Don’t forget to label. After the first use, refrigerate.
Victorian Rose Bouquet
You will need:
Take each one of the Roses, one at a time, and wrap Southernwood around it. Bind them together with florists wire. Make up and add small bunches of Hellbore leaves and wire them into the bunch as well.
Wire together small bunches of Southernwood and Asparagus Fern sprigs. Wire this bunch together with a Rose and Southernwood bunch. Continue to wire in Roses and bunches together until you are happy with the overall size and appearance of the posy. You can always remove bunches as you go along or add more until it looks right. Whatever appeals to your eye.
Wire all of it together so that it is a bunch that can be held in the hand. Push the stems of the flowers and sprigs through the center of the posy frill. Secure it from underneath with florist’s tape and then decorate the base of the arrangement with ribbons, beads, shells, bangels or other decorative items. You can always choose items for a specific theme if the gift is being made for someone who has a hobby or favorite past time. These look cute with little golden golf clubs, toy sailboats, silver knitting needles, engraved dog tags, or other personalized items.
This Posey is aromatic and pretty. It is most often seen today in wedding ceremonies where the bridesmaids carry them. They make lovely and memorable gifts.
A note here about the ingredients for this project. Minuet Roses are a special breed of Rose and have to be purchased from Florists or as a live plant from a Nursery. You can, of course, use other Roses or flowers that appeal to you in place of the hard to find Minuets. Southernwood is also known as Artemesia and can be purchased in most crafting stores in the floral department. The leaves are sold in bunches and are usually inexpensive. If all else fails, use the link I provide above for cut and sifted Southernwood. Also, Hellebore Leaves are hard to find in local stores but I have provided a link to buy a plant online and then plant it yourself and use it’s leaves for this and many other craft projects. You can also go to a local nursery and buy a plant there if you like.
You cannot just buy Asparagus Fern sprigs in any case and will either have to buy an entire plant or locate one in the wild to steal the sprigs. They grow naturally in many places and are often found on rocky ground so it’s likely you can find one to use. Otherwise, you can buy them from fish supply stores because they are often used as decorations in aquariums. If all sources fail for you, then try my link to buy one cheaply from an online source. It’s a good idea to either seed your own, buy a flourishing plant and place it in your yard or find a source of Asparagus Fern in the wild. They are used in many craft projects such as wreaths, bouquets, table placements and also in some gourmet recipes.
A posey frill used to be readily available in a bygone era when women used to make all kinds of frilly lace items for the home. They are currently seen most often in wedding ceremonies where the florist provides them for the bridesmaids. Search for “bridesmaid posy” to see what is currently offered. You can make your posy frill by simply cutting any favorite fabric, lace or not, in a circle from 6″ to 8″ wide in circumfrence. The fill is used as the backing for the posey so you might like to choose a fabric you think the recipient might like or that you know they already enjoy.
Dill Aftershave for Men
You will need:
1/4 cup Dill Seeds
1 tbsp Honey
2 1/2 cups Purified or Distilled Water
1 tbsp Distilled Witch Hazel
Place the Dill Seeds, Honey and Water into a small saucepan and slowly bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes.
Allow the mixture to cool in the pan, infusing for several minutes as it does so. Once it cools to warm, add the Witch Hazel.
Stir the Witch Hazel into the mix. Allow to cool completely.
Once cool, strain the mixture through a Wire Strainer (not a cheesecloth) to remove the Seeds but to retain the Honey. Once strained, pour the Dill Water into a small bottle with a tight, decorative cap and store in the refrigerator. Use cold.
Lovers Rose Pillow
You will need:
This pillow is guaranteed to stimulate the Romantic senses and encourage a night of Love and Rapture!! Or so the Victorians say. It was sold as an aphrodisiac in more Romantic times among the European Gentry.
For this project, you can use an existing pillow or make one of your own. Either way, you must make an opening in the side seam of the pillow that can be sewn over invisibly and be secure. Some crafters prefer to add a zipper for future access. It depends upon your intended use for the Pillow. Zippers can be intrusive. In that case, use fusible webbing or velcro strips to allow access without discomfort.
Never mix the Herbs directly into the pillow you will feel the crunch when you lay or sit upon it!! Always put the herbs into small pouches which can mix easily with the stuffing.
First, age this mixture just a bit by blending all of the ingredients and leaving them in a tightly stoppered jar overnight. In the morning, stuff the Nylon or Muslin scraps with the herbs and tie them off with thread, rubber bands or ribbons. Once you have several small bags, you can begin stuffing them into the pillow, being careful to position them in places where they will not be damaged or easily felt.
You can tell the gift recipient that when the scent fades, they can simply replace the bags with fresh ones or bring it back to you for a refresher. If you’d rather they do it themselves, be sure to show them how!
You will need:
Lots and lots of fresh Lavender flowers
1 bottle of quality Vodka
1 bottle of Sunflower Oil
# 1: You can put this fresh Lavender into a bottle and pour over with the oil. Cork the bottle tightly and set it in a sunny window or outside on the ledge. Leave for several weeks until you can open the bottle and smell the Lavender. Strain through a wire strainer and use the oil as is. Store in a container in a dark, warm place.
# 2: Or you can lay the Lavender out on a pan or tray and pour over thickly with the oil until covered. You can leave this in a cool dark oven for several days. At that time, change out the Lavender for new and replace. Do this 4 times over a period of two weeks (approx). Afterwards, discard the flowers and pour the Alcohol over the remaining fatty oil (which will look greasy and clotted). Leave for 12 hours and then wash off the Alcohol into another container. Add more Alcohol and do this again. On the third time, leave the Alcohol floating over the fat for 24 hours in the oven.
After 24 hours, wash off the alcohol again into the container. Discard whatever fat remains. Pour the alcohol into the top of a double boiler and set it for low. Leave for several hours. Do not cover the pan during this time. Allow the alcohol to burn off into the steam. After several hours, you should have a greatly reduced volume of liquid that smells like Lavender. Bottle and store in a cool, dark place until you are ready to gift it. Be sure to tell the recipient to keep it in a cool place over time and not set it out in sunlight because the sunlight can intensify the thickness and aromatic qualities of the oil until it is actually unpleasant and in extreme cases of exposure can cause the oil to go rancid rapidly.
Spicy Body Toner
Blend all the ingredients together in a blender. Pour into a glass jar or bottle and stopper. Place in a sunny windowsill and leave for a week.
After a week, strain through a wire strainer and replace the liquid to the bottle. Stopper, label and store in a warm, dark place until you are ready to gift it. Place the toner in any quality bottle with stopper; colored glass ones with designs are very nice. Label it with a personalized label or even a Valentine and trim with ribbons, ropes, beads or other decorative items.
Sweet Bath Bombs
2 cups baking soda
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 cup epsom salt
1 cup citric acid
1 tbsp. hempseed oil
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 1/2 tbsp water
15 drops essential oil for fragrance (your choice)
1. Whisk all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Mix this very well.
2. In a separate bowl, mix the oils and water together. The coconut oil will be solid, so microwave it first until it is melted. When you add the oils and water to the dry ingredients, mix quickly and thoroughly. Pack in large heart shaped molds and let them harden overnight.
3. Wrap up the hearts in nylon mesh, unused stocking feet, soft clean material, whatever you like and tie with a satin ribbon. Satin material with heart patterns and red satin ribbon makes a lovely presentation.
Lovers Bath Bags
Depending upon your personal preference, you can make your bath bag from just about any material. It should be porous, however and not real thick. Unbleached muslin, nylon from used, unused or left over pantyhose, netting (tightly woven) or cheesecloth are all ideal fabrics. It’s up to you.
The method for making Bath Bags is always the same, it is only the Herbs that change in usage for their specific properties. For instance, if you are making bath bags to treat anxiety then you would use herbs made for that purpose and so on. Do not use herbs indiscriminately. Be thoughtful in your choices. If you are wondering what herbs are used for what purpose then take a look at my post Healing Herbs in the Bath
Make your bath bags by cutting out squares from the nylon, netting or muslin. It can be either 6″ x 6″ or 8″ x 8″ depending on how big of a bag you would like to make.
Lay out the square and load it with the fresh or dried herbs. Wrap it all up into a ball and tie the upper ends together with a rubber band to secure it and then cover the rubber band with string or ribbon. Make it as pretty as you like.
Make up a label you can tie to the bags to tell the user to tie the string or ribbon to the faucet so that the bath bag dangles into the hot water and to get in once the water is the right temperature. The water will be infused with the herbs; it will change color and scent. Again, for more information on the kind of herbs you may want to add to the bags, read my post How To Herbs Promote Health?