The season of joy and giving is upon us once more! We hope these herbal creations– from Chocolate-Orange Lip Balm and Brown Sugar & Vanilla Body Polish to Orange-Plum Jam with Ginger and Saffron-Currant Refrigerator Cookies--will inspire you to share your creative talents with family and friends all season long. Adorned with a bit of ribbon and homespun cloth, they make great gift ideas too! But, you’d better make extra batches of everything…you’ll want to keep some for yourself.

How to Make Holiday Potpourri

Follow these simple steps to make the following blends:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a wide-mouthed glass jar and stir with a spoon until well blended.
  2. Cap the jar and leave in a place free of drafts and direct heat or sunlight.
  3. Gently shake the contents of the jar once each day for a few weeks, or until you feel that the fragrance has fully developed.

Country Roads

Simmer this autumn-scented potpourri in a pan of hot water on the stove, add it to pillows and sachets, or set it out in a pretty dish or bowl.

Mulberry Madness

Winter Blues Chaser

  • 1 cup pine needles
  • ½ cup each chopped, dried apple, cedar chips, and cinnamon sticks, broken in to small pieces
  • ¼ cup whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon each allspice berries, mace, ground cinnamon, and chopped ginger root
  • 15 drops frankincense essential oil
  • 10 drops myrrh essential oil

* Potpourri recipes excerpted from The Naturally Clean Home, 2nd Edition (c) 2008 by Karyn Siegel-Maier with permission from Storey Books.

Chamomile & Elderflower Hand Gel

  • 1/2 cup mineral or filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons dried chamomile flowers
  • 2 tablespoons dried elder flowers
  • 3 tablespoons glycerin
  • 3 tablespoons arrowroot powder

  1. Heat the water until just boiling. Remove from heat and add the herbs. Cover, and allow to steep for 30 minutes.
  2. Using a double boiler, gently heat the glycerin. Remove from heat and immediately add the arrowroot.  Stir to blend well.
  3. Strain the herb and water mixture and discard flowers. Slowly add the strained liquid to the glycerin and arrowroot mixture.  Stir until the mixture begins to gel.  Scoop into clean glass jars and cover.

Sandalwood & Rose Skin Salve

  • 4 ounces shea butter
  • 2 tablespoons jojoba oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated beeswax
  • 20 drops sandalwood essential oil
  • 15 drops rose geranium essential oil
  • 1 capsule vitamin E oil

  1. Using a double boiler, melt the shea butter and beeswax together. Stir to blend.
  2. Add the essential oils and contents of the vitamin E capsule. Stir again.
  3. Allow the mixture to cool slightly, and then pour into a small mouth glass jar and cover with a lid.

Chocolate-Orange Lip Balm

  • 11/2 teaspoons grated cocoa butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated dark chocolate
  • 3 drops sweet orange essential oil

  1. Melt the cocoa butter, coconut oil, and chocolate in the top of a double boiler until smooth.
  2. Add the essential oil to the chocolate mixture. Stir to blend.
  3. Pour the mixture into a small container (about ½ ounce capacity). Allow to cool overnight before use.

Tinted Lip Balm

  • 1 tablespoon grated beeswax
  • 2 tablespoons sweet almond oil
  • Beet root or alkanet powder (see note)

  1. Gently heat the almond oil and beeswax together in the top of a double boiler.
  2. Add the beet root or On a stove or in a microwave, gently heat oils and beeswax to melt wax. Add beet root powder alkanet powder, ½ teaspoon at a time until the desired color is obtained. Stir well to combine.
  3. Scoop lip balm into a clean container and seal.

Note: Beet root will impart a pink to red shade, while alkanet powder will yield a deep cinnamon color. You can also add more powder while the mixture is cooling, stirring again. Also note that the mixture may separate a bit while cooling, but will set when completely cooled.  

Peppermint Foot Scrub

  • 1 cup Epsom salt
  • 1/3 cup sweet almond oil
  • 1 tablespoon liquid castile soap
  • 8 drops peppermint essential oil

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Stir until blended.
  2. Scoop foot scrub into a clean container and seal.

To use, rub a bit of the scrub onto damp feet to remove dead skin, rinse well.

Brown Sugar & Vanilla Body Polish

  • 3/4 cup sea salt
  • 3/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup sweet almond oil
  • 15 drops vanilla essential oil

  1. Combine the salt and sugar in a small bowl. Stir to combine.
  2. Add the almond oil and vanilla essential oil, stirring again.
  3. Pour mixture into a clean, glass jar and seal.

To use, scoop out 1-2 tablespoons of the body polish with your fingers while in the shower. Gently massage (don’t rub) onto skin, paying special attention to knees and elbows. Rinse well with warm water.

Honey-Tarragon Mustard

  • 1/2 cup dry mustard powder
  • 1/3 cup mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3/4 c up white vinegar

  1. Combine mustard, mustard seed and water in a food processor and process just until blended.
  2. Scoop the mixture into a small bowl and cover. Allow this mixture to stand at room temperature overnight.
  3. The next morning, return the mixture to the food processor. Add the salt, honey, and vinegar and process until blended.
  4. Pack the mustard into clean, glass jars. Refrigerate until needed.

Orange-Plum Jam with Ginger

  • 4 pounds plums
  • 1 package Sure Jell Light
  • 5 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of fresh grated ginger  
  • 1/2 cup orange juice with pulp

  1. Pit and chop the plums, leaving the skins on.  
  2. Combine the chopped plums with the orange juice and bring to a boil in a large kettle or Dutch oven.
  3. Stir in the Sure-Jell.  Bring to the boil, stirring constantly.  Add the sugar, and boil for 1 minute.
  4. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.  
  5. Pour into sterile jars and seal.

Saffron-Currant Refrigerator Cookies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, broken
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 1/2 cup currants

  1. Soak the saffron in the boiling water. Cream the butter and sugar together.  Beat in the egg.  Add the saffron/water mixture.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Add the flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft dough forms.  Fold in the currants.
  3. Refrigerate the cookie dough until quite firm, about 2 hours.  Shape into small balls and flatten with a fork, or the palm of your hand, into ½-inch rounds.  Place unused dough in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  4. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet in a preheated 375' F oven for 8-10 minutes.