Small Pleasures from the Garden

In late May Dan and I had just returned from a road trip visiting siblings across Iowa and Wisconsin. These two states boast some of the most lush, organized and pristine countrysides I recollect ever seeing.  The farms and fields in both Wisconsin and Iowa are impeccable or so it appears to occupants of speeding vehicles. This vehicular observer watched the undulating green, the orderly rows of crops, farm implements, houses and barns with great amazement.  Kansas lands rarely boast as great an order or green due to our frequent winds, blast furnace summers and “dip down past zero” winters.  I think it is the extremes that spell the difference here.  However, since we have returned to Kansas and the June calendar says Summer, the strong winds have been sporadic and leisurely rain showers have caught us unawares; making the days more temperate- giving the illusion of a soft warm summer, rather than the ultimate possibility of burning wind and sun soon to settle in…

My own little herb garden has been a fortunate recipient of this fair weather and I have enjoyed harvesting herbs to dry or use already.  The cilantro has lasted far longer into the warmth than I thought it would, small catnip plants have sprung up all along the garden border- much to the delight of my kitties (and probably the roaming ferals and neighborhood cats).  We have had fresh oregano, chives, tarragon and thyme for recipes and the lavender blooms have been exceptional.

lavender plant

So I cut the lush purple blooms, small leaves and stems to dry.  The lavender fragrance, so fresh, clean and lovely, inspired me to make soap this last weekend.  A way to savor the scent many months from now when snow and harsh cold winds have driven the perennial underground for rest.  Though you won’t find me out in my backyard stirring lye in a cauldron, you might find me utilizing a microwave to melt some basic soap blocks and flavoring them with the scented herbs and creating coarse scrubs with oatmeal, ground almond seeds or sea salt.  Small pleasures from my garden to be shared and enjoyed throughout the year!  I love summer on Green Heron Pond!

garden lavender


Lavender Rose Scrub Soap

Ingredients: Block of soap starter of your choice, soap colorant (if you wish) and small molds (all can be purchased from a craft store)

Pesticide free lavender blooms & leaves, pesticide free rose petals and organic dry oatmeal

Directions:  Follow directions for melting the soap starter on soap package (I use an old pie plate or measuring cup for this process)

While soap starter is melting use a mortar and pestle to grind lavender blooms, rose petals and oatmeal  into a fine scrub consistency

When soap starter is melted add a soap colorant if you wish, add the ground lavender, rose and oatmeal mixture and stir until well mixed.

Pour into soap molds, let set for an hour and then remove from molds and store

I do not use essential oils due to many people being sensitive to them (especially children and pregnant women) but instead utilize the herbs themselves…this creates a subtle fragrance and a nice scrubby exfoliant or clean up soap.  Use or share to help summer linger!



The Importance of June 1st!

I have debated as to whether share this post today or on some later June date so as to not make anyone feel the least bit guilty about June 1st, as I am inclined to.  It merely has to do with my mom (this is not a diatribe) and is only an observation of a day and a saying.

calendar June 2
This 1995 Calendar works great this year…

My mother died during my son’s infancy and I remember how much I longed to chat with her through the various stages of that early “momhood”.  It was not to be, so I began to think about how I could “hear” her voice through the memories of her laughter, her wisdom, wit and her sayings.  There are many but today I will focus on her saying about June 1st.  “If you don’t get things done on June 1st, they will not get done!”  This was actually a spring housecleaning mantra with my mom but it has stuck with me in so many ways and along so many avenues of my life…

Every June 1st (except when it fell on a Sunday…then May 31st- Memorial Day became a labor day) was spent washing windows, curtains, turning mattresses, vacuuming areas undisturbed for weeks/possibly months and doing annual chores that only warm weather would support outside.  I dreaded the day most years.  Since my birthday fell towards the end of May, I felt entitled to a few days respite into summer vacation before I had to get busy around the house and help… my mistaken idea… Margaret knew better.  And to this day I can never reach June 1st without thinking I need a plan of action for the summer season.

My mom was an Oklahoma farm kid- half grown by the time the Depression happened and she never let it slow her down.  I really think due to the limitations of the time she developed such self reliance and intellectual curiosity that as an adult she had both a well defined practical side and philosophical nature too. She certainly utilized these tools dealing with her children…

So today, June 1st I was up at 5:30 a.m. (due to a cat) and decided to begin with my list of tasks for the upcoming summer.  There is a baby coming this month, next month a wedding and so today has been filled with lovely activities in preparation for these joyous occasions.  I have even done some laundry and housecleaning…  but this evening I feel I have started the wheels in motion for the summer and its coming events.

What my mother’s June 1st saying instilled in me all those years ago, was the understanding that I could begin as I would plan to go on See a project through.  Make a plan, execute it, see the results and expand on what I’d learned.  It has served me well even when I have experienced failure or lack of focus as it gives me the ability to begin again, to keep moving forward. The simple example of spring cleaning, housework- that one could immediately see the result of their labor. A  phrase from my childhood, wise words!  What do you want to accomplish this June 1st, you still have time.