Hello friends,

Violets!  Such glorious little gems of the meadows and woodlands that surround my home here in the Allegheny Mountains.  Today my desk is adorned with a sweet little bouquet of wild harvested violets and violas.

We have acres of yard that we don't treat with chemicals.  It is a natural field, kept mowed, so it is filled with wild propagated native plants.  Dandelions, violets, clover, yarrow along with grasses.  With the bee population endangered it is a great help to provide untreated fields and meadows.  So we have tons of flora that is fresh, pure and ready for harvest for use in my soap, salves, tinctures and distillation.   Today I harvested the wild violets.  Our yard has both the classic deep purple and the less common white violets.  They pop up every spring, lots of purple and a few whites.

If you are planning on using the violets in herbal preparations - food, salves, body care, distillation - be sure you only choose your harvest from areas free of chemical treatment. I rinse the violets in clear water and pat dry.  I picked a little basket full that I will use to create charming little gifts of Violet Sugars, Candied Violets, Violet Syrup and Lavender Violet sachets.  Later I will create infused oils to be used for balm, salve, soap and distillation.

For the sugars you want to use just the cleaned flowers, no stems and remove the green calyxes to reduce the chance of bitterness.  There are several ways to make the culinary delight of violet sugar.   You can simply create layers of the blossoms and sugar, cap the jar and in about a month you will have a delicately flavored sugar for use in teas,  baking, decorating cookies and cakes.

Another method results in a final product with a more intense flavor - still delicate but stronger than simple infused sugar.  For this you use just the petals.  I choose various sugars to create interest, caster sugar, table sugar, sanding sugar, large crystal sugar.   Whatever you choose is fine.  A good proportion is one part violet petals to two parts sugar such as 1/2 cup petals to 1 cup sugar.

I make mine with a mortar pestle or you can use a food processor.  Simply combine the petals and sugar and process until the violet petals are completely incorporated into the sugar. The sugar will be a nice purple color.  You can also add some lemon zest for another flavor combination but you will lose some of the subtle flavor as the lemon is stronger.

There is a moisture in the petals so you want to dry the sugar before storing the final product.  I spread the processed sugar on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and cover with a layer of cheesecloth.  You can let it sit for a few days to dry or speed the process by turning on the oven for 1 minute to get a little heat.  Turn off the heat and put the tray in the oven to dry.  Once you are sure there is no extra moisture in the sugar you can store it in clean jar.  It will last for months in a cupboard.

 Sugared or candied violets are a pretty decoration for cakes and cookies.  Using cleaned violets and beaten egg whites you paint the petals and sprinkle with sugar.  Caster sugar is nice because it is a finer grain but you can use any sugar you choose.  If you can't find caster sugar you can replicate it by pulsing regular granulated sugar in a food processor.  It isn't the same as powder sugar as that is too fine, it is in between the two types of sugar. 

Using a fine paintbrush, coat the petals with the beaten egg white and sprinkle with sugar.  Place on parchment paper until fully dried and store in a clean glass jar until ready for use.

Violet syrup is a nice addition to your culinary cabinet.  You can use it drizzled on fresh fruit - summer sweet strawberries are perfect.  You can freeze it for a granita, make violet lemonade or a cocktail with some sparkling water and vodka.  To make the syrup you need a cup of cleaned violet petals, one cup of distilled water and one cup sugar.

Put the petals and blossoms into a jar and cover with the distilled water that you have brought to a boil.  It is best to use distilled water because tap water may cause a color change.  You allow the tea to steep for 24 hours. It will be a deep blue to purple color.  

Strain the tea through layers of 
cheesecloth to remove the plant material leaving the clear liquid.  Note: if your color is blue and you desire a more purple color you can add a very few drops of lemon juice as that will adjust the pH to turn the blue to purple.  Don't over do it, just a drop at a time.

Combine the strained liquid and one cup of white sugar into a bain marie or double boiler and gently heat until the sugar is complete dissolved, don't boil it, steam heat is best.  Allow to cool and transfer to sterile glass bottles for storage.  The syrup will last up to 6 months.

For charming gift for Mother's Day, Bridal Showers, Girlfriend Gifts 
make up a basket with a jar of violet sugar, bottle of violet syrup and
 fragrant violet sachets and vintage hankies.  Perfection!

Thanks for visiting,

Dandelion Salve

Hello friends,

Spring has arrived and the dandelions are in full bloom.  We have acres of yard that we don't treat with chemicals.  It is a natural field, kept mowed, so it is filled with wild propagated native plants.  Dandelions, violets, clover, yarrow along with grasses.  With the bee population endangered it is a great help to provide untreated fields and meadows.  So, as you see, we have tons of dandelions - fresh, pure and ready for harvest for use in my soap, salves, tinctures and distillation.
You can harvest the flowers, leaves and roots for use in various applications.  Today I am gathering the new opened flower heads for my dandelion salve.  It is best to do this just when they open before they are pollinated, this helps avoid the blossoms becoming the dried, fluffy seed heads.  I only harvest a small portion of the flowers to be sure the bees have plenty for their needs.  Harvest early in the morning just after the dew has evaporated for best results. You can get a full basket quickly.

You don't want any stems, pinch the flowers close to the green tip as possible. Spread the flower heads to dry for a day or so on a screen or paper towels.  You want to remove some of the moisture before preparing the infusion because water content in oil infusions invites problems.  

After air drying, loosely fill a sterile jar with the flower heads and cover completely with a good quality oil.  I use organic virgin olive oil, golden jojoba or sweet almond oil.  Keep the jar out of the light in a cool to room temp environment for several weeks, shake occasionally.  I prefer the cold infusion method to preserve all of the goodness of the herbs.  Some speed up the process with gentle warmth but for me, cold infusion it is - slow and steady yields the best results.  You can find details about infusion herbal oils on my other blog post here Cold Infusion Herbal Oils by Soapsmith.

Once finished, strain the infused oil through several layers of cheesecloth to remove all of the plant material.  The oil is ready for use in soap making, salves etc.  You can store the final product in an amber glass vessel in a cool dark cupboard for up to a year.

You can make any herbal salve using your infused oils, waxes and butters of your choice.  This is a very forgiving recipe so you can choose the oils, waxes or butters of your choice.  Olive oil, jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, argan, coconut oil - bees, soy or candelilla waxes - cocoa, shea, kokum. mango butters are all good choices  A good starting point is:

8 ounces of infused oil
2 to 3 ounces of beeswax
2 to 3 ounces of shea or cocoa butter
Optional - essential oils of your choice 1/2 to 1 teaspoon

You can adjust the consistency of the salve but using more or less wax or oils until you find a final product that meets your needs. Simply melt the wax in double boiler or microwave, add any butters to the melted wax and stir, blend in your infused oil and pour into tins or jars.  Cap and label. Enjoy!

Thanks for visiting,


Allegheny Hearth Bonnie Klisiewicz Bartley Soapsmith

The Language of Flowers

Hello Friends,

Then gather a wreath from the garden bowers

and tell the wish of thy heart in flowers - Percival

Floriography is the language of flowers. In Victorian times floriography was used as a tool for communication. Floral arrangements of meaningful flowers were used to send coded messages, allowing people to express feelings which dare not be voiced aloud. Tussie-mussies were charming little bouquets that were a popular use of Floriography. Every gift of flowers sends good will to the recipient, while each flower in the bouquet carries its own message.

The nuances of the language of flowers has sadly been diminished over the decades. Some remain part of our culture for example, we know that red roses imply passionate, romantic love and pink roses a a sweeter more innocent affection; white roses call to mind virtue and chastity and yellow roses signify friendship or devotion.

The concept of plants having meanings is a long standing tradition, in the 1600's play Hamlet, we hear "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance". The Ottoman Turkey emperor Constantinople favored an interest in a language of flowers with strong emphasis on tulips.

The Floriography craft was brought to England and Sweden in the 1700's. The French popularized the trend in the 1800's while in Britain it gained popular during the Victorian age of the early 1800's and finally moving to the US in the mid 1800's.

The meaning of flowers:

Aloe Grief

Almond Promise

Amaranth Immortal love

Amaryllis Pride

Ambrosia Love is reciprocated

Anemone Anticipation

Arborvitae Everlasting friendship

Arbutus You are my only love

Asparagus Fascination

Aster Symbol of love, daintiness

Azalea Take Care, fragile, passion, womanhood

Baby's breath Innocence, pure of heart

Bachelor button Single blessedness, celibacy

Laurel Bay Glory

Begonia Beware

Bellflower Disappointment, loss

Bells of Ireland Luck

Bird's-foot Trefoil Revenge

Bird of Paradise Liberty, magnificence, faithfulness

Borage Courage

Broom Humility

Buttercup Riches

Cabbage Profit

Campanula Gratitude

Carnation Fascination; distinction, innocence Mother's love

Celandine Joys to come

Cherry blossom A good education

Chrysanthemum I love

Coreopsis Always cheerful

Cowslip Winning grace

Clove Undying love

Clover I promise

Columbine Emblem of deceived lovers

Coriander Lust

Cypress Death, mourning, despair, sorrow.

Daffodil Chivalry, unrequited love, return my affection

Dahlia Elegance and dignity

Daisy Innocence, loyal love, purity, faith, cheer, simplicity

Dandelion Coquetry

Delphinium Levity, fun, big-hearted, ardent attachment, joy

Eglantine Rose A wound to heal

Elderflower Compassion

Fennel Strength

Forget-me-not True love

Fungus Resilience, loneliness, solitude, disgust

Gardenia You're lovely, secret love, joy, good luck

Geranium Gentility

Gladiolus Strength of character, honor, conviction

Grass Submission

Heather Solitude

Heliotrope Devotion

Hibiscus Rare beauty, delicate beauty

Hollyhock Ambition

Honeysuckle Devoted affection, bonds of love

Hydrangea Heartlessness

Iris Good news

Ivy Endurance

Jasmine Unconditional and eternal love

Jonquil Please return my affecion

Lavender Devotion 

Lilac First emotion of love

Lily Purity

Lily of the Valley Sweetness, Humility, Happiness, Trustworthy

Lobelia Malevolence

Lotus Purity, chastity and eloquence

Magnolia Love of nature

Marigold Pain and grief

Mayflower Welcome

Mint Suspicion

Moonflower Dreaming of love

Morning glory Love in vain

Narcissus Unrequited love, selfishness

Nasturtium Patriotism

Oak leaf Strength

Oats Music

Olive Peace

Orchid Refined beauty

Peach blossom Long-life, generosity, and bridal hope

Pear blossom Lasting friendship

Peony Shame, bashfulness

Phlox Harmony

Plum blossom Beauty and longevity

Plumeria Perfection, springtime, new beginnings

Primrose Eternal love

Protea Courage

Poppy Pleasure, wealth, dreams

Rose True love, grace

Rosemary Remembrance

Snowdrop Hope

Star of Bethlehem Atonement, Reconciliation

Straw United

Sunflower Pure and lofty thoughts

Sweetbrier Simplicity

Sweetpea Gratitude

Thistle Nobility

Thyme Thriftiness

Tulip Undying love

Violet Faithfulness, Modesty

Viscaria Invitation to dance

Willow Love forsaken

Winged seeds Messengers

Wheat Wealth and prosperity

Wormwood Absence,bitter sorrow

By all those token flowers that tell

What words can never speak so well. Byron

Thanks for visiting,


Reader's Comments

By luvncrafts on 03/25/2013 @ 12:51pmLovely post!

By EweniqueEssentials on 03/23/2013 @ 09:20pmFlowers speak with a language all their own! Very interesting post. Thanks for sharing!