Sunday, August 18, 2013

Second Bloom--Essence of Lavender

Since I last posted, we have made a trip to Illinois to remove the remaining belongings from my husband's parents' condo. They are comfortably settled in a retirement setting with great care on-site.

This trip culminated a year of clearing out their home on short, weekend visits. We are so thankful they had begun the process of downsizing and purging a few years ago, which made our work so much easier. Still, when it comes time to move it all out, it can seem overwhelming.

During the experience of the past year, I've thought a lot about our home, with my multitude of collections and creative endeavors that result in stockpiles of raw materials. In recent weeks, I've cut back on the number estate sales I attend. I've drastically reduced my thrift store shopping. And, I'm more judicious about the garage sales I brake for. At least for now. Don't know how long that will last.

As a token of my desire to make things easier on our children some day, I've also begun sorting, gathering, and pricing for a garage sale next month.

Since my last post, we also lost my dad. It was sudden. He had lived a full and rewarding life, though. I know he's in a better place. He desperately missed my mother, who died nearly seven years ago after a battle with ALS.

This photo is one of my favorites of Dad and me. Lunch in the cornfield at my grandparents' farm in 1957. That's me with the belly peeking out. My sister sits on Mom's lap in the pickup and Grandpa munches his sandwich in the background.

I'm not embarrassed to say I was a Daddy's girl. I will miss him like crazy.

Saturday was a nearly perfect summer day:  sunshine, light breeze, low humidity.  A great day for an outing with friends to a lavender farm up the road apiece in Iowa.

The Loess Hills Lavender Farm is a newer lavender venture, established in 2009. Its owners are still growing and expanding the farm, which is in the rolling Loess (pronounced "less") Hills.

We missed the first bloom season this year. That occurs in June and at that time the plants are saturated in lavender  and white blooms. This weekend, the plants were near the end of their second bloom, but still put on a delightful show, attracting mini tornadoes of alfalfa and cabbage butterflies.

As if a leisurely stroll through the lavender fields and cutting a small bouquet for drying weren't enough, we sampled lavender sugar cookies and lavender lemonade, which tasted heavenly. For a salty snack, we munched popcorn sprinkled with lavender-flavored sea salt.

Most of the plants at Loess Hills Lavender Farm are culinary varieties. Lavender has a subtle, but enchanting flavor. The farm's proprietors have only recently acquired a distiller and will begin distilling lavender oil next season.

Today, they create lavender personal care products, soaps and room spritzer.

Touches of lavender can be seen from the front porch of the gift shop to the pretty perennial beds around the farm.

I fell in love with this chippy, cottage chic dresser in the gift shop. Such a pretty color combination. One to copycat, maybe?

Speaking of cats, lavender is known to have a calming effect, as well as other health benefits. Can't find a better advertisement for the herb's benefits than the resident kitty in a state of full relaxation.

Make it a great day!
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