A Few of Our Favorite Old-Fashioned Lavender Ideas for the Home

Sweet Scented Armchair

In one of my favorite old books Pot Pourri from a Surrey Garden {1900}, by Mrs. C.W. Earle described a delightfully fragrant household idea: ‘On the backs of my armchairs are thin Liberty oblong bags, like miniature saddle-bags, filled with dried Lavender, Sweet Verbena and Sweet Geranium leaves. This mixture is much more fragrant than the lavender alone. The visitor who leans back in his chair, wonders from where the sweet scent comes.’
This is a Victorian elegance developed from early ideas described by Parkinson in the seventeenth century of tying fragrant bundles of lavender, costmary and rosemary to ‘lie upon the tops of beds.’
A more sophisticated way of dealing with the ever-present problems of moths in clothing was developed in the seventeenth century. Clothing was sprinkled with a fragrant concentrated moth-repellent liquid before being folded.
Here is a seventeenth-century recipe:
To make a special sweet water to perfume clothes in the folding being washed. Take a quart of Damask-Rose Water and put it into a glasse, put unto it a handful of Lavender Flowers, two ounces of Orris, a dram of Muske, the weight of four pence of Amber-greece, as much Civet, foure drops of Oyle of Clove, stop this close, and set it in the Sunne a fortnight; put one spoonful of this Water into a bason of common water and put it into a glasse and so sprinkle your clothes with it in your folding.
Lavender Wash Days
Plant a bush, or better yet a hedge, of lavender near the laundry door-French, Mitcham or English-and on sunny days dry lingerie and pillowslips over the bushes.
An old tradition.
We grew lavender in our old Maryland garden and the sheets in my Mother’s house always smelled of it. What sweet slumbers come to one between Lavender-scented sheets!
Louise Beebe Wilder, The Fragrant Garden
 Store sheets fresh from the sun and wind with lavender bags between each folded sheet.
Lavender Tea Cozy
Nothing could be more old-fashioned or more deliciously fragrant than the warmth of a hot pot of tea releasing the fragrant oil of English lavender flowers.
Make a tea cozy from a flower sprigged cotton with wadding between the layers. Fashion two large pockets to line the two inside layers of the cozy. Place inside each pocket a large flat sachet of lavender potpourri. This way of making the tea cozy allows you to remove the old potpourri and replace with fresh when necessary. A pot of herb tea with the fragrance of lavender floating in the air is one of the most relaxing of indulgences in the middle of a tiring and busy day.
Lavender Insect Repellent
Lavender oil is a powerful insect repellent.
Rub a few drops diluted in a little safflower oil on your skin before indulging in the great outdoors to repel flies, midges and mosquitoes.
Or throw a handful of the dried stalks and branches left over from the harvest onto the barbecue or picnic fire.
With stored fruit, sprinkle dried lavender leaves over it.
Moth Repellent Sachet Mixture
Lavender oil and lavender flowers have long been recognized for their powerful insect repellent properties.
Lavender was always an ingredient in moth repellent sachets to store among winter woolens.
Here is my favorite mixture of dried herbs for moth bags which are made of voile or silk or organdie and tied with bows of satin ribbon.
2 cups dried lavender flowers
1 cup dried lightly crushed camphor laurel leaves
1/2 cup dried lightly crushed costmary leaves
1 cup dried wormwood leaves
1/2 cup dried pennyroyal
1/2 cup dried peppermint
1 cup dried lavender leaves
This fresh mint-and-lavender scent with astringent undertones really seems to keep the moths at bay.
Hang a sachet on hangars and pop one in each drawer.
Lavender Incense
If you have a little incense burner, this is an easy incense to make and use. It is particularly useful in the sick room that has remained closed up for some time, quickly dispelling mustiness.
Even better, it need cost nothing.
2 tablespoons fine sawdust which has been sieved to remove coarse pieces
2 tablespoons finely crumbled dried lavender leaves and flowers
5 drops essential oil of lavender
Bath toiletries and cosmetics are another way of incorporating sweet lavender fragrance into your life.
Make your own soap is a great deal easier than many people imagine. Homemade soaps can be incredibly luxurious, rich, fragrant and good for your skin!
Making soap to save money is a very minimal goal. You should consider making soap because it is fun, because it is creative and because it opens up a whole new world of fragrance experiences-and yes.at the end of it all, you will save money.
Washing balls are a good way to start working with soap products. They are a very old idea. The washing balls are compounded with a finely grated pure quality unscented soap such as Castile, mixed with skin softening and aromatic ingredients.
Ipswich Balls were once very popular. For ‘almond cake’ use 14 g of finely ground almond meal from your health food store or other suppliers. Oil of spike is lavender oil. Use a few drops of oil of musk or tincture of musk in place of the musk and ambergris in the recipe and you will have a creditable Ipswich Ball.
Here is a famous recipe from The Queen’s Closet Opened by W.M., Cook to Queen Henrietta Maria, published in 1655.Take a pound of fine white Castile Sope, shave it thin in a pinte of Rose-water, and let it stand two or three days, then pour all the water from it, and put to it half a pint more, and let it stand a night more, then put to it half an ounce {14g} of powder called sweet Marjoram, a quarter of an ounce [7g} of powder of Winter Savoury, two to three drops of oyl of Spike, and the oyl of cloves, three grains of Musk, and as much Ambergris, work all these together in a fair Mortar, with the powder of an Almond Cake dryed, and beaten as small as fine flour, so roll it round in your hands in Rosewater.

The final rolling in rosewater helps to smooth, polish and scent the ball. Let it stand for up to six weeks to harden otherwise the ball is used up too quickly. The soap is prevented from darkening if you add 14 g of powdered gum benzoin to the original recipe.
Here is the ‘delicate washing ball’ described in Ram’s Little Dodoen in 1606:Take three ounces {83g} of orris, half an ounce {14g} of cypress, two ounces {37g} of Calamus aromaticus, one ounce {28g} of Rose leaves {petals}, two ounces of Lavender flowers: beat all these together in a mortar sieving them through a fine sieve, then scrape some Castile sope, and dissolve it with some Rose-water, then incorporate all your powders therewith, by labouring of them well in a mortar.

Form the mixture into small balls about the size of a large golf ball and set aside to dry thoroughly for six weeks.
It is possible to fashion all manner of fragrant soap balls based on finely grated Castile soap and incorporating finely ground cosmetic aromatic herbs, herbal oils and finely ground almond meal.The only limitation is one’s imagination.

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