Making An Herbal Hydrosol
  • Put a 5 gallon enamel pot on the stove and put a brick in the bottom of the pot
  • Pour enough water into the pot so that the water comes to just below the brick, do not completely submerge the brick in the water
  • Add five handfuls of aromatic herbs to the water. You can use one herb or several depending on what you have available. Some of the aromatic herbs that can be used for making hydrosols are; rosemary leaf, sage leaf, thyme leaf, eucalyptus leaf, lavender stem, leaf and flower, lemon balm leaf, lemon verbena leaf, mugwort leaf and flower, orange peels and rose petals. All of these plants can be used in either fresh or dried form
  • Put a stainless steel metal bowl on top of the brick inside the pot
  • Put the lid on the pot, except put the lid on upside downward so that the top of the lid is pointing down into the inside of the pot
  • Empty three ice trays full of ice into the inverted lid that is on top of the pot
  • Turn the stove on low for ten to fifteen minutes or until all the ice melts in the lid, then remove the lid that is now filled with the melted ice and dump that water into the sink.
  • The plant oils will have precipitated into the metal bowl on top of the brick. Be careful to not let the melted ice water drip into the bowl. Let the smell from the plant oils that have been captured in the bowl waft through your house. Take the liquid that has settled into the metal bowl and put it into a sterilized mason jar or a spray bottle. You now have an herbal hydrosol! Easy!

  • Your herbal hydrosol is stable for six months to one year (but it's best to keep it refrigerated). Spray the herbal hydrosol around the house, in your car or use it as a bathroom freshener.
Here Are Some More Ways To Use Your Herbal Hydrosol

Bathroom freshener

One half cup eucalyptus hydrosol
One half cup lavender hydrosol
Put in a spray bottle

Driving hydrosol (helps to keep you alert)

One half cup orange peel hydrosol
One half cup rosemary leaf hydrosol

House cleaning hydrosol

One half cup lavender hydrosol
One half cup eucalyptus hydrosol

This is a great disinfectant that can be used to wipe down counters and clean the shower

Sleepy time hydrosol

One half cup lavender hydrosol
One quarter cup lemon balm hydrosol
One quarter cup lemon verbena hydrosol

Home made herbal hydrosols are an easy and inexpensive way to augment the use of aroma in your home. Let the healing pleasure of scent become part of your everyday life!

Making a Sand-Cast Birdbath — Instructions

• Large leaf
• 1 bag of sand
• 2 bags of concrete
• Water
• Plastic wrap
• Tubular concrete form
• Paint or concrete dye (optional)
• Concrete sealer
• Bucket or mixing Tray for concrete
• Hoe for mixing
• crub brush
• Paintbrush
• Foam brush
• 2 containers for paint and sealer

Step one — Getting started. Make a sand pile. It's not often adults get to play in the sand, so here's your chance. You'll need enough for the entire leaf to rest on, plus a couple of inches around the edge to spare. This rhubarb leaf used all of a 40-pound bag. Any type of sand will do. Smooth it into a low dome, like I'm doing in the photo. The sand pile will support the concrete-covered leaf and create the shallow depression that holds the water.
There's one more thing to do before you mix the concrete: Cut a ring 2 inches wide from one end of the tubular concrete form. You'll use this later, in step five, to help form a lip that keeps the birdbath on the pedestal.

After you've made your dome, cover it with plastic wrap like I'm doing in the photo at left. It will keep the sand from sticking to any concrete that might leak through a hole or run over the edge of the leaf. Use a little sand to weigh down the corners so the plastic doesn't blow away.

Step two — Leaf time. Now you can lay the leaf face down on top of the plastic wrap. Many leaves wilt quickly, so wait to harvest it or keep it in a bucket of water until you're ready. Cut the stem off close to the base of the leaf. Make sure it extends a couple of inches past the leaf edges.

If the leaf you want to use has a hole in it, no problem. Just cut a piece from a different leaf and make a patch.

Step three — Mix the concrete. Pour the dry concrete mix into a plastic bucket or mixing tray. Slowly add water until the mixture is the consistency of a thick brownie mix — just like the concrete in the photo here. It should be thick enough that it won't run off the leaf but not so thick that it can't be moved around easily. For this rhubarb leaf, it took about 3/4 of a 40-pound bag of vinyl patch concrete.

Step four — Spread the concrete. After it's mixed, scoop some concrete onto the center of the leaf and begin working it toward the outer edges like I'm doing in the photo. It's a little like spreading out pizza dough — try to keep it even without tearing a hole. Those big veins that run down the middle of rhubarb leaves need plenty of concrete to cover them, so be generous there. Try to make it about 3/4 inch thick in the middle and taper it to 1/4 inch thick at the edges.
Since I was just making one birdbath here, I decided not to wear gloves. But if you're making several or you have sensitive skin, I'd recommend using latex or rubber gloves because the concrete really dries out your hands.

Step five — Prepare a lip. Here's where the cardboard ring you cut in step one comes in. Set the ring onto the concrete surface toward the back center of the leaf where the concrete is thickest. Then place handfuls of concrete all the way around the outside of the ring, like I'm doing in the photo, smoothing it out as you go. This anchors the ring to the leaf and, when dry, the concrete will form a lip to keep the birdbath stable on the pedestal.
Once you have the leaf covered with concrete and the ring in place, cover the whole thing with plastic wrap. If it's hot outdoors or you're working in full sun, a piece of moist burlap on top will help it dry evenly. There are many conditions that influence how long it takes concrete to dry. A project this size should, generally, be ready for handling within 48 hours.

Since I was just making one birdbath here, I decided not to wear gloves. But if you're making several or you have sensitive skin, I'd recommend using latex or rubber gloves because the concrete really dries out your hands.

Step six — Dry and clean. When the leaf has dried, but before you let it cure, carefully turn it over. In my experience, a big chunk along the edge you're holding is the 'most likely part to break off as you pick it up. So, if it's a really big leaf, have a friend help you turn it over so you can distribute the pressure more evenly.

Now you can pull off the plastic wrap and start peeling away the leaf. Most of it comes out easily, but there may be some pieces that are determined to stick.

As you can see in the photo, I got out the scrub brush, and that took care of the rest. If some of the stems still don't come out, just leave them for a few days. They'll dry out and be easier to pull or spray out with a hose. As soon as you've cleaned the top, turn the leaf over again and carefully peel the cardboard ring from the lip you built into the bottom.

Even though the birdbath can be handled, the concrete needs to cure for about a week. Curing makes the concrete stronger. It's important not to let water sit in the birdbath until that week is complete.

Step seven — Paint your leaf. To use your leaf as it is, just add a coat of environmentally friendly sealer, such as such as GBS or look for a water based concrete sealer at your local hardware store, to protect it from the weather. If you're planning to paint the leaf, hold off on this step until the paint is dry.
If you want some color, grab your paintbrush, paints and start painting! For this leaf, I add about three drops of crimson acrylic paint to 2 cups water for a thin wash. Paint on the leaf in layers as in the photo above. It dries quickly and you can begin another coat almost as soon as you finish the first. You can also brush on a wash of cadmium orange hue in places to give some variation to the color. When this leaf was made, the concrete ran over the edge of the leaf onto the plastic wrap in places, which created a border around the actual shape of the leaf. When painting you can follow that edge  if you like the contrast between the color and the gray concrete. But you can paint right up to the edge, if you'd prefer.

You can also try concrete dye, water color paint, oil paint and spray paint. You can build up acrylic, oil and water color paint in thin washes until you like the color. But you can also apply the paint thickly right out of the tube. However you decide to decorate your leaf, be sure to seal it with a coat or two of concrete sealer. This will help preserve the color and protect the concrete.

Sand-Cast Birdbath - Pedestal Instructions

Making a pedestal for your sandcast birdbath is simple, but there are a few things to do ahead of time to prepare.

First, you need a form. Most hardware stores carry cardboard tubular concrete forms that are used for deck footings. They come in different lengths and diameters. The one pictured was 6 feet long with an 8-inch diameter. Since 6 feet seemed extreme for a birdbath pedestal, cut the form in half with a hand saw. You can make the pedestal any height you want to. Just remember the taller the pedestal is, the heavier it will be when you're done.

Now that you have your form cut to the height you want take the leftover piece and cut off a 2-inch ring. Set it aside to use in step five of the leaf project. Now you're ready to get started.



• 1 bag of concrete
• Water
• Tubular concrete form
• Paint or concrete dye (optional)
• Concrete sealer


• Bucket or mixing tray for concrete
• Hoe to mix concrete
• Saw to cut the form
• Paintbrush
• Foam brush for sealer
• 2 premade steppers (optional)

Step one — Add the concrete. Cover the smooth side of a pre-made stepper or any smooth surface — it can even be your sidewalk or driveway — with plastic wrap and set the end of the cardboard form you cut up. This way if your earlier cut wasn't perfectly straight, you won't have an uneven base. Placing the form on a smooth surface will help keep the pedestal level, too.

Mix the concrete with water until it's the consistency of pudding. The photo at left shows a good mix — not too watery, but not too stiff. Then pour the concrete into the form. This is a good time to have a friend around to hold the form while you pour. Not only does it keep the form steady but, by holding the form down firmly, the concrete won't be able to leak out the bottom. Give it a good shake to get rid of any air pockets.

Step two — Top it off. When the form is as full of concrete as you want it, center the other stepper on the top as in this photo. This will keep concrete from oozing out the bottom. Let it dry for 48 hours.

Step three — Finished product. When the concrete is dry, the form can be peeled off just like in the photo. When the cardboard is off, let your pedestal cure for one week.

After it has cured you can leave it as it is or decorate it with color. Either way, a coat of concrete sealer will help preserve your pedestal.


Butcher Block Finish Recipe

1 c. Mineral Oil

1/2 c. grated beeswax, packet loosely

Combine in a glass container. Heat about 4 minutes in a microwave until it liquefies, or use a double-boiler. No need to stir, but monitor for safety. Let cool to the consistency of pudding. Wipe mixture liberally into wood block or cutting board. Wait 1/2 hour and wipe off excess. Five initial coats is recommended, then replenish monthly,more if it gets heavy use and frequent damp washings. Wax on end-grain,expect some water spotting, this will disappear with another application of finish and should minimize over time.


Making Potpourri

As our gardens are winding down, it's time to think about some of the crafts we can do to keep it with us over the winter. Some are for sustenance and health, and some are for pleasure. Potpourri is beautiful fragrant stuff. I happen to think that equals sustenance.
Making Potpourri
It is fun and easy to make potpourri, especially if you have kept dried petals fromthe garden. There are just a few "rules" to follow, and the rest is a matter of imagination.
The first decision is choosing a color scheme. What is the predominant color? Where will the potpourri go? And even more important, what scent will it have? Some options would be woodsy, floral, citrusy, spicy, or exotic. For the sake of instruction, we will talk about a woodsy blend.
Begin by fixing the scent. This should be done a week or more before adding it to the botanicals. Orris root granules are an excellent fixative - absorbing and holding the fragrant oils.
In a jar, put 1/2 ounce of orris root, perhaps 1/4 ounce of oak moss, and some hemlock cones, sandalwood chips, frankincense tears, or any mix of these ingredients to make about a cup (these ingredients are woodsy, and just orris root is fine too). Pour about 1/2 ounce of essential or fragrance oil into the jar and shake thoroughly. For a woodsy blend, one might try some balsam fir, pine, frankincense, and patchouli oils. If the intent is to get the benefits of aromatherapy, only essential oils may be used, as fragrance oils - while smelling lovely - have no such effect.
Now mix together the botanicals. Pine cones, cinnamon pieces, citrus peels are all a good start for this one, as well as rose hips, with evergreen needles, oak moss, and some colorful flowers thrown in to perk it up.
If the fixatives have been mixed for a week or so, they can be added to the blend, and the fragrance will last for a very long time - up to a year or more.
Florals would generally use more color, and the fragrances would be light and flowery. Lavender, rose geranium, ylang ylang, for example, with some vanilla or musk to round it out.
A spicy blend can be made up almost entirely of spices - cinnamon pieces, cardamom pods, allspice, coriander, ginger, cloves, etc. Orange or lemon peel look good in there Use corresponding oils, and this blend can also be simmered.
Exotic blends include lots of vanilla, sandalwood, patchouli, vetivert, musk. Colors can be whatever strikes you as exotic.
Finally, you can do whatever you like. Add seashells - interesting pods you find - pebbles... it's up to you!

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