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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sleep Aide Techniques

Pamper Yourself with Lavender

Rose loves to use lavender not only because it is easy to grow or smells wonderful it is a popular herb for it has a wonderfully relaxing effect on the mind and body and makes a good remedy for anxiety, nervousness, and physical symptoms caused by stress such as tension headaches, migraine, palpitations, and insomnia. It also has a stimulating edge to it, acting as a tonic to the nervous system and restoring vitality to people suffering from nervous exhaustion. The relaxing effect of lavender can be felt in the digestive tract, where is soothes spasms and colic related to tension and relieves distension, flatulence, nausea, and indigestion, and enhances the appetite. As a tea, oil inhalation, or vapor rub, lavender is effective for colds, coughs, asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, flu, tonsillitis, and laryngitis. A warm compress or bath will relieve chest congestion, and help with bruises and insect bites. It can be used as often as you would like and benefits anyone: men, women (including before, during or after pregnancy, and nursing), children and animals
Lavender oil can be inhaled, rubbed on, vaporized or used in your bath as it is commonly used as aromatherapy.  Many spas use lavender for massages or burn lavender candles to help their clients relax.  Research on the physiological and psychological effects of essential oils is well documented and shows that it has been used for centuries to soothe, heal and rejuvenate the mind, spirit and body.   The various health benefits of lavender essential oil include: Calming the nervous system, inducing sleep, pain relief, skin care, hair care, digestion, immunity and for respiratory disorders (the oil is either used in the form of vapor or applied on the skin of neck, chest and back. )

Please note that those with sensitive skin should be aware that there have been documented reports of allergic reactions causing some individuals dermatitis when lavender is applied externally.  You should test a spot before administering a full application.  Not all varieties of lavender are calming a Spanish lavender can have the opposite effect. 

A lavender eye pillow is filled with flower buds and flax seed.  The flax seed is added to give weight to the pillow against your eyes and forehead.  If you spend a lot of hours in front of a computer or book this pillow will sooth tired achy eyes as it will also alleviate tension headaches.  Chilling your eye pillow will help you beat the heat a promote sleep.  A dark cotton material is not only comforting it also blocks out external light. 

A lavender filled neck wrap covers the front and back shoulders as well as the neck and offers the benefit of moist heat to relieve stress and aching muscles.  A lavender body wrap is designed to soothe muscles, ease pain and menstrual cramps while eliminating tension and stress.  Heat the wrap for its full therapeutic value.  If you have a nightly routine that involves reading or watching television just imagine how wonderful this wrap would feel as it relaxes you.  There is another version of the body wrap that looks like a vest and has healing properties for your back as well as your shoulders. 

If you have an area in your yard or garden to grow your own lavender, here are some tips from eHow.com
  1. Step 1
    Picking your plants!
    The Lavender plants you pick depend on your climate. English Lavender, (Lavandula angustifolia), is the most hardy plant and grown the most widely. It is easy to mix in a perennial bed. This plant will endure subzero winters, but dislikes humid heat. If you live in a humid climate look for a LavanDIN instead of lavender. "Grosso and Provence" are the best lavandins. You can even chose your hue of lavender, but unless you get shoots from a "mother" plant, you will not have a consistent color or flower.
  2. Step 2
    Picking your spot to plant!
    The most important factor about Lavender is drainage. Soggy areas should definitely be avoided. Incorporate organic matter if necessary to make a loose soil for easy drainage.
    Lavender prefers a sloping bed in a sunny spot. A solution to that would be to heap soil in a pile about 12 to 18 inches high before planting the lavender. If your soil is mostly clay soil, dig out your hole and mix the clay with sand. Lavender plants cannot compete with aggressive weeds, so ensure your chosen spot is weed free. This is most important if you are planting a hedge of lavender, as weeding after they are planted can be a huge hassle. Weeding often becomes such a chore that Lavenders are overrun and eventually dies in a neglected hedge.
  3. Step 3
    When planting lavender place the plants at least 2 feet apart. Start with 4-inch-pot sized plants. Leave plenty of room between plants for air circulation. If planting in pots, make sure to repot every spring into a larger container with fresh soil to allow the plant to continue to mature. A good, coarse, sterile potting soil with organic fertilizers works best.
  4. Step 4
    Lavender does not like overhead sprinkler and could rot if they get too much water. Use a drip irrigation and water only when the bed is dry to a depth of 3 or 4 inches. While Lavender is extremely drought resistant once established, it grows larger and produces more blooms with regular watering. It is important to let the plant dry out a bit before soaking it again. In humid areas, this can be difficult and the excess moisture often causes death by rotting. Do not mulch lavender! It holds too m uch moisture.
  5. Step 5
    Wait about two years to fertilize the plants and then use an organic product such as fish emulsion. Feed the plants in spring when they start growing and again after harvesting in late summer. If you grow plants as annuals, you don't have to feed them at all.
  6. Step 6
    Pruning and Harvesting:
    It takes about three years for Lavender to reach full size. Plants should be pruned every year immediately after bloom. Pruning should not be confused with harvesting. Pruning is necessary to extend the life of the plant because lavender gets very woody if not pruned. Lavender flower wand stems are a bright green and Lavender leaves are gray. Cut back not only the flower stem, but also about a third of the gray-leaved stems as well. Avoid pruning back so far that only woody stems with no leaves are showing as it may die.

    Harvest the flowers according to end use. For a fresh bouquet pick when the flowers are in full bloom and scent. For dried bundles the stem must be harvested before the florets completely open. If you wait until the flower is open it will fall apart when they are dried. Take a handful of stems and cut them off at the base of the plant and then wrap rubber bands around them. To dry them hang them upside down. Drying takes about two weeks, but keep good circulation around your bundles to avoid them falling part or rotting. Harvesting the lavender for oil must be done at the peak of the day's heat. Essential oil can be extracted by steam distillation from the fresh flowers.

 Make lavender satchels for yourself, friends and family or sell them at your local health food store or your website.  See Make Cash for Blondes to find out how to make Backyard Buckamoos. 
See this family fun way to make lavender satchels from alphamom.com
dried lavender
First get some dried lavender and some white muslin.  A pillowcase, handkerchief or even a linen napkin would also work well.
lavender steps 1
Once you have your fabric ready, cut it into circles that are big enough for hand stamping, leaving plenty of room around the sides. Make sure you cut two circles for each sachet that you want to make: one for the hand-printed side and one plain for the back. With some simple fabric paint, paint your child's hand (or if they are older, let them paint their own) and stamp away! Be very careful with fabric paint though because it is permanent.
I once did a craft like this with some kids I babysit and for some reason we painted in their laundry room. To this day (five years later) there is a splotch of yellow paint on their dryer. If you don't scrub it off right away, it's pretty much going to be there until the end of time. But that doesn't mean it isn't good. Permanent paint has it's purpose. It won't ever ever come off on Grandma's white linen hand towels either and that's a good thing!
hi five!
This next part is a bit tricky. I found, after several catastrophes with fabric glue, that a hot glue gun is the best way to adhere fabric quickly for these little pillows. If you want to wait around all day, you could try fabric glue but I don't recommend it.

After the handprints are completely dry (usually four hours), turn them over and glue a fine beaded line around the handprint but do not close the circle. Leave a two-inch gap so you can spoon the dried lavender into the sachet through this gap later. After you have made a nice big letter "C", stick your backside fabric onto the front side (making sure the handprint is facing outwards of course) and carefully pat it so the glue sticks. You will have to work quickly because hot glue dries fast but you'll also want to be careful because when it's hot it can seep through some fabrics and burn you. A blotting cloth might be helpful if you're not tough like me. I have asbestos hands.
Once the glue is completely hardened then comes the fun part: Spooning in the lavender! Pretty much anything works. Pouring it from the bag, spooning it, a big funnel--whatever works for you. Once you have filled your sachet loosely (don't over-fill it) just grab the glue gun and seal up the hole. If you've glued it properly, the lavender should not stick to the sides and will stay put. If you have a leak here or there don't worry. They can be patched up with a dot of glue. If the lavender sticks to the glue it's not the end of the world. Mothers understand imperfections.
we could stop here
You could stop here. These pillows are perfectly useful. It's not like they are going to get much wear and tear in the undies drawer. But if you're like me, you probably want the edges to look a little more finished. So grab a needle and thread and some pinking shears and finish them up!
I know, you're probably thinking, What?!! I have to sew?It's not so bad. A little stitching is good for the soul. I finished these up during one bath time and one Disney movie the next day. And let me tell you, those minutes I spent sniffing all that lavender were divine. It really is true that lavender is calming.
paper version
If you're truly averse to sewing you can make these with paper. We made some with pretty rice paper, paper glue and acrylic paint and they turned out quite cute. They are a little more fragile and crunchy but they are still pretty to look at and smell!
smell so pretty!
Whatever you end up doing, your finished product will be completely worth it.

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