Monday, June 30, 2014

Lavender Strawberries Prevent Chores From Seeming Endless

Lavender Strawberries Prevent Chores From Seeming Endless

“. . . he could see the green grass paths between the lavender hedges, the purple masses of michaelmas daisies with the butterflies sunning their wings upon them . . . and smell the damp sweet scent of it . . . “ The Bird in the Tree  Elizabeth Goudge

     A decade ago, maybe more, as we’ve been writing for twenty, my pen friend sent me a sachet filled with lavender flowers. It is sewn into the shape of a strawberry. Charming. Though its sweet-woodsy fragrance has grown faint, the Lavender Strawberry resides in my dresser to this day.

My Friend is to Blame
     Keeping house and home teaching a sizable number of children, has been a full-time job for my friend. She willingly works with her hands and head. Cooking and laundry are continual. And high school students must do their algebra. She has embraced her position as wife, mother, and home teacher. There is nothing else in life she would rather do. But to prevent chores from seeming endless she sets aside time for precious moments of Mother Culture. She has learned to do her chores promptly and efficiently because she values a little time to create. She also passes along the domestic arts to her daughters. Sewing is a summer project along with bottling fruit. Anyway, my friend is to blame for my Lavender Strawberry craze with her handmade gift to me all those years ago.

Plump Strawberries   

     In late spring, Dean and I are sure to stop at an Amish farm to buy homegrown strawberries. The fruit has a rich flavor. And the soft succulent texture surpasses that of supermarket offerings. I try to remember to return my pint boxes to the roadside stand. But I save some to recycle in another way. The pints make cute-and-clever containers for Lavender Strawberry Sachets. Four plump Strawberries fill a pint. Place the pint in a 5 X 11 plastic candy bag, tie with ribbon and you have a feminine gift unlike anything found in a department store. Recently, I started using a bit of purple paper-crinkle inside the box to make a nest for the Strawberries.

     To preserve the freshness of the lavender flowers until gift giving, I like to store my Strawberries in an empty pickle jar with some fabric tied on top.

Nature’s Fragrance
     There are few feminine crafts I enjoy more than Lavender Strawberries for practicality. They gently sweeten up a dresser drawer, a closet, or suitcase, the natural, old-fashioned way. Tossed into the clothes dryer, a sachet will last three drying cycles. I tried this. For subsequent cycles refresh with a drop of lavender essential oil at the top of the sachet. It is a lovely way of incorporating essential oils in the day-to-day routine. 

Short Creative Sittings
     A busy mother has brief spaces of time in which to sit comfortably and pick up a needle. Therefore, I’ve learned to carry the steps of Strawberry-making over a series of days. “Short sittings” is the method I use. I look forward to moments of leisure that are unhurried, and where supper is not at risk of boiling over on the stove.

     Fabric can be sewn into a cone and stuffed to make a simple ornament. But what I call, deluxe Strawberries go a step further. They are lined and ruffled with complimentary fabric.

     A separate piece – the sachet of flowers - is nestled inside the fabric envelope. Tied with ribbon it forms a ruffle instantly. Although the entire project can be done by hand, I recommend a sewing machine.

     The sachet is hand-finished – as easily as sewing a fabric yo-yo. I sit by a sunlit window to spoon the lavender flowers into the sachet. The room fills with fragrance.

     Stressful days are all too common. Therefore, a craft with lavender flowers is an added reprieve. It is said that the scent of lavender has a calming effect. I am inclined to believe this. Queen Victoria had lavender flowers strewn all around the castle and liked to have them replenished daily. It must have kept her gardener busy. 

     I love fabric and like to mix-and-match traditional calicos of purple and green for my Strawberries. But this year I couldn’t resist making one set in red. (Click any image to enlarge.)

     Strawberries are quite cute in themselves. But now and again I sew on tiny glass beads as seeds. For a wedding shower or get-well gift I may add lace.

A Mother Culture Craft
For Mothers and Daughters
     Some crafts are so cute they’re “catching.” This crossed my mind when I made a new batch of Strawberries this spring and so I carefully recorded the steps as I went along. Wishing to make it very convenient for mothers and daughters to get started, I went further. I did a good amount of preparation. I gathered materials. Then, I assembled a kit for my readers.

     Only basic sewing skills are needed. My friend granted me permission to use her design but the instructions are entirely mine. I couldn’t resist picking out pictures from the pages of my antique books to lavishly illustrate the instructions. I got carried away and even illustrated the patterns, which you can see here in green on the chair. The fabric in kit is handpicked by me, pre-washed, and purchased here in Amish Country.

     Use the kit as a birthday gift or to enhance any home economics course – and contribute to a beautiful girlhood.  Age 12 up.

What’s in the Kit?
An assortment of 6 color-complimentary purple and green fabric, satin ribbon, plenty of lavender flowers to fill 4 plump Strawberries, easy-to-follow instructions, patterns printed and illustrated, color photograph. Nigel did the graphic arts for me. We work well together. Made in the USA.

$18.00 plus $8 shipping. By check to Charlotte Mason Rearch, PO Box 296, Quarryville, PA 17566. Or PayPal 

     Even if making sachets is not your thing perhaps this post will spark an idea of what you’d like to do for a little creative Mother Culture this summer. May, you too, get carried-away.

Until next time,
Karen Andreola 


  1. You are one great lady. Congratulations to you and Nigel as you begin this venture.

  2. That's a lovely gift! Lavender is a wonderful scent and so calming. My kids love to use it on their pillows, helping them go to sleep.

    I hope you sell a lot of kits!


  3. Lovely idea for a "short sitting" craft. They would make a perfect gift or something special to keep. You may not remember, but you made a lavender strawberry for me years ago--it is still sweetly scenting a drawer. Thank you once again!
    Sue R.

  4. We are surrounded with rosemary at our house. My daughter's wedding is rapidly approaching. She is highly allergic to flower blooms. Rosemary seemed a lovely and fitting and great smelling alternative for decorating the reception and serving tables.

    I like the lavender strawberries! A 25 year old sachet resides in a dresser drawer in our bedroom. It evokes fond memories of dear loved ones every time it surfaces.


  5. What a cute idea! I love lavender between my clothes, in my face cream, hand lotion, on my table, and under my pillow. It's a very relaxing herb. ♥

  6. Dear Karen,

    What an inspiring gift from your friend, and what a lovely idea!

    Thank you for the "mother culture" that you inspire in all of us.



  7. The new header is lovely. I like to return to scenes in Appleton with the seasons - just yesterday, I read the chapter about Emilys birthday party at the river and the previous one about strawberry jam and fireflies... And the new header enhances my summer feelings.
    Wishing you bright summer days!

  8. The fireflies ARE lovely this time of year! Our back yard is full of little twinkling golden lights every night now.

    When my enthusiasm for homemaking wanes, Pocketful of Pinecones and Lessons at Blackberry Inn come to my rescue every time. The pervasive love for family and a home to house and nurture them inspires and encourages me.

    I like the idea of following Carol and her family through the seasons.


  9. I have been looking at your blog on my laptop and several of the posts have not showed up when I have viewed it on my phone. Weird! This was one of them. :o)

    I love making strawberries!! What a great kit!!
    Wish I knew someone to gift it too
    ! :o)
    I do crafting in short sittings too! :o)

  10. How Sweet Karen! I look forward to each new post. Lavender is one of my most favorite herbs. Blessings to you Karen.
    Elena Eckel

  11. Love the Lavender Strawberries. Just darling!

  12. I'm going to my bedroom and sniff some nice lavender oil right now!