Lavender Sugar Cookie Recipe

I have had a life-long love affair with herbs. And back before I first started making my herbal bath and body products, I made the journey to Caprilands Herb Farm in Coventry, CT to see the abundant herb gardens, arranged by theme (I recall most vividly the Shakespeare Garden and the Saint’s Garden). I planned my visit to coincide with one of their herbal luncheons, which featured several dishes, all seasoned with herbs. The standout for me was their lavender cookies. It was such a unique idea, and such a lovely flavor.

As I thought about what kind of cookie to bake today, I recalled those wonderful cookies, and decided to try to recreate them. I made them look a bit more festive for the holidays, adding a tint to the icing and sprinkling them with colored sugar. Following is my recipe, which turned out very well, if I do say so myself!

1 stick of organic butter (1/2 cup)
3/4 cup fair trade sugar
1 organic (local, if possible) egg
1 tablespoon organic milk
1 1/4 cups organic, unbleached flour
2 teaspoons organic dried lavender flowers*
1/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
a pinch of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Cream the butter, then gradually add the sugar, beating until light. Add the egg, vanilla, and milk, the beat until thoroughly combined.

Mix the flour, lavender flowers, salt, and baking powder together, then add this mix to the butter mixture. Blend well. Drop by teaspoonfuls on cookie sheets covered in parchment, about 1 inch apart.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges.

You can decorate them with a simple icing.

Pour a 1/2 cup of boiling water over 2 tablespoons of dried lavender flowers. Allow to steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain, then add 4 tablespoons of the liquid to 2 cups of powdered sugar, blending until smooth. Add coloring to tint, if desired, and decorate with colored sugar sprinkles. For the icing, I used India Tree natural vegetable colorants, which, unlike most brands of coloring, do not contain petroleum-based ingredents. And for the sugar sprinkles, I used  Joby & Marty’s Amazing Colored Sugar, which is also colored only with vegetable dye. Both of these are available at Whole Foods.

*You must use culinary grade lavender, so as to avoid any unwanted chemicals. My favorite source is Mountain Rose Herbs, which offers a vast variety of organic and pesticide-free dried herbs.

A Conversation with Maura from GreenWorks

Recently I had an opportunity to interview Maura Canavan, owner of GreenWorks and designer of hand-printed organic cotton and hemp shirts. Maura specializes in eco-friendly clothing with cool ancient-symbol designs. She also heads up the Etsy Organic Team, a group of Etsy sellers “dedicated to helping the earth, the environment, and our bodies through organic products.”

I love the colors and textures of her clothing. Plus I have a special affinity for her Celtic designs (my great-grandfather was from County Cork). Last Christmas, I bought one of her lovely hemp linen tops as a gift for a family member. It was well-received.

Here’s what Maura had to say about GreenWorks and her journey of sustainability.

How did you get started in your chosen craft?

I have an interest in living a natural lifestyle for many years. One of the problems I encountered this side of the pond was a lack of organic clothing or where it was available the high prices!  The prices really put organic clothing out of the reach of most consumers and I felt it was doing a great dis-service to the whole organic campaign to have the clothing in what would be considered a niche market.

At the same time a friend had discovered screen printing and we had collectively come up with some great designs for our t-shirts. So we decided to source organic clothes to screen print on and sell them on at affordable prices to try and get organic mainstream.

We found Etsy in 2008 and opened up GreenWorks because one of our first designs was a play on the phrase that green does work with industrial cogs.  At that time we didn’t think to see if anyone else was using the same name – and on reflection we would have chosen a different name for our shop.

Anyway the rest as they say is history.  We’re still plugging away trying to make this a viable business.  It is slow going and the recession hasn’t helped! :)  But we’re committed to making this happen so fingers crossed!

What makes your product eco friendly?

Lots of things.

We make the screens ourselves using wood that would have been dumped and also old picture frames etc.

The inks we use are considered the most eco friendly around and give great results.

The clothing we screen print on is all either organic and/or hemp which is a great sustainable and eco friendly fabric.  While we use organic hemp where possible even though some tops have not been certified as organic we love how hemp actually rejuvenates the earth and is mainly harvested without the use of any pesticides/herbicides etc.

Most of our clothing is also either fair trade or ethically traded.  That was an important box for us to tick when sourcing the tops and one that wasn’t always considered.

And because we do all that ourselves it is fair trade – we’re not employing someone to do the work for us at a cut price.

One downside is that while we source as locally as possible living in Northern Ireland does mean that our inks/tops etc have to be bought in aka environmental costs of shipping/freight etc. Plus selling online entails shipping as well. We are hoping for the day when organic cotton and hemp are available on this wee spot of the earth!

What inspired you to lead a green lifestyle?

I really can’t say.  From a child I had a dislike of medication but had migraines.  So I learned early on the relationship between food and health.  Also growing up in a village we were surrounded by farms etc.  My great aunt had cows and an assortment of chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese etc so we always had a supply of free range eggs as well as homemade butter and buttermilk.  I loved her pantry with all the churning equipment and patting butter and how it was always lovely and cool even when it was hot outside.  It was like magic!

Growing older I started using essential oils and flower remedies and developed a self treatment/regime for migraine using those and a form of self hypnosis that made them manageable.  Then I discovered Feverfew and after taking that for a couple of months my migraines practically disappeared and I would say I have been migraine free for at least 20 years now.

Most of my clothing when I was young was made by my mom and granny and I used to get hand-me-downs from cousins.  So re-using and not wasting were part of everyday life.

Home cooking and baking were everyday occurrences and there is still nothing I like more than fresh baked bread straight off the griddle! Yeah my waist doesn’t thank me for that one :)

So I guess you can say that a green lifestyle has been pretty much part and parcel of everyday life for me growing up.  The difference is that while I was young I took it for granted – nowadays it is a conscious decision.

Which piece in your shop is your current favorite?

Oh that is a tough question! From a printing perspective I love the Elegance design because it so versatile and I can play around with it.  From an Irish perspective I love our Celtic designs and all the ancient symbolism dating back to our pagan days.  From an activist point of view I love our organic message and some newer hemp designs.  My favorites though are the tribal prints – the cosmic circles inspired by the Mayan calendar and the mushroom God with his magic mushrooms. The idea of that was actually some copper handles with the mushrooms on an old Irish oak sideboard.  Unfortunately Ireland has few ancient oak forests left as most of them were plundered … but that’s another story!

What are you currently working on?

We have a new hemp print that I need to list but also a couple of plans for 2 ranges of designs … but they’re kinda secret for now :)

On the non-organic front, but recycling, I’ve been concentrating on sewing and making for my other shop lilgreenshop.  I’m a wild hoarder and figured it was time to rebirth some fabric scraps etc plus for local craft fairs it is easier to take one suitcase of smaller eco items on a bus or train to a fair than try to take clothing (no car and no plans to get one if I can manage without)

So many thanks, so little time!

Within the past month, and primarily within the last week, I have received a plethora of great reviews and mentions in gift guides. So, I would like to return the favor and thank all the blogs and websites that have featured my products — I appreciate your kind words! Here are the people I would like to thank, and whose gift guides I would also like to recommend to you, dear reader…

Dallas Star-Telegram “When you buy holiday gifts that benefit a charity, the good feeling is priceless” A holiday guide to products that support a cause, a charity, a relief effort, a positive change in the world.

Going Green DC “2nd Annual Going Green DC Gift Guide” A guide to some of the coolest eco-friendly gifts that are made right here in the DC area.

We Love DC “We Love Really Cool Gifts” Great gifts made by DC area artists and craftspersons.

Chic & Green Christmas Wishes 2009 Daily handcrafted holiday gift recommendations from the Chic & Green blog.

Bella Sugar “10 Feel-Good Gifts For Dad on Any Budget” A guide to “the perfect holiday gifts for the Y chromosome who loves you most.”

EcoLeeko “4th Day of Christmas” Twelve days of eco-friendly, artisan gift suggestions handpicked by EcoLeeko.

Nuorganics’ “On the 1st Day of Christmas” Greenworks offers 12 days of recommendations for handcrafted, unique, quality products from independent artisans.

Whitz World of Beauty “More Christmas Gift Ideas with Herban Lifestyle” A listing of some of my best-selling products, many of which were featured in…

Create your own Spa Week with Herban Lifestyle featured in the Examiner in September.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. And Happy Holidays!!!

Join Herban Lifestyle at the Squidfire Holiday Art Mart

Squidfire Winter Art Mart 2009I love this poster that I received from the creative guys at Squidfire advertising their annual Holiday Art Mart. I posted about this show earlier in the week, but just had to share this image. It reminds me of the animated Abominable Snowman in the Rudolph the Reindeer Christmas movie that terrorized me as a child, except this one looks much friendlier and I wouldn’t mind shopping where he shops.

I hope you can join us and 60 other amazing artisans at Du Burns Arena, 1301 South Ellwood Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21224 on Saturday, December 12, from 11am to 6pm!

Join Us at Squidfire’s 2009 Winter Art Mart

Join us and 60 other amazing artists and crafters at Squidfire’s Winter Art Mart in downtown Baltimore on December 12. This year’s festivities will be held at the Du Burns Arena in Canton. As always, the art mart will feature some of the best diy/indie crafters from all over the East Coast. Whether you’re looking for handmade soap, freshly baked dog treats, unique paper goods, or even locally roasted coffee beans, they will have it there.

So I hope you can join us on December 12, from 11am-6pm, at the:

Du Burns Arena
1301 S Ellwood Ave
Baltimore, MD 21224

Craftland!

Beginning this Friday, my products will be available at Craftland, “an annual holiday sale in downtown Providence, RI that celebrates all kinds of sparkly handmade objects and the people who make them.”

An amazing 170 crafters will have their unique handmade wares on display. The colorful handcrafted displays will be filled with jewelry, plushies, ceramics, soaps, and various other fun, quirky and beautiful objets d’art.

This year’s Craftland runs from December 4 through December 31. They are open seven days a week from 10am – 6pm, except Thursdays and Saturdays, when they are open from 10am – 8pm. The Craftland store is located at 235 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903.

For more information, you can visit the Craftland website, call 401.272.4285 or email info@craftlandshow.com.

Exterior view of Craftland, copyright @Craftland

City of Falls Church Holiday Craft Show 12/5-12/6

Please join Herban Lifestyle at the 17th Annual City of Falls Church Holiday Craft Show. This juried show will featured more than 60 crafters on two floors of the Falls Church Community Center. There will be a wonderful selection of unique handmade items and baked goods.

The show will be held on two days: Saturday, December 5th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 6, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission to the craft show is $1 for adults and 50 cents for children 12 and older; admission is free for children under age 12. Children’s activities include a craft corner, face painting, and breakfast with Santa.

Falls Church Community Center
223 Little Falls Street
Falls Church, Virginia
(703) 248-5077