Lemony Linens

Fresh fruits by Room Essentials, Target. Pear and lemon tea towels compliment striped terry dish cloths. A perfect accompaniment to this German silver bar cart and tri-citrus blended beverage.

Oh my goodness, it’s been a while!  So many ideas, recipes, and books to share, but alas a two-week family vacation followed by a very scary bout of August pneumonia  left me, well, zestless.  Can’t wait to throw my lemon back in the blogging ring!

So, I’ve been wanting to share a source for these lovely summery lemon tea towels with you… perfect for adding a fresh touch to your lemonade service.  And, it’s not too late as there are two days of August left!  These refreshing 100% cotton lemon slice and pear tea towels are by RE (Room Essentials)  and available at Target in-store only.  My Target just restocked their lot so if these have your name on them, I encourage you to make a visit before the season inventory changes.  They are a perfect kitchen accompaniment to the RE 100% cotton terry cloth dish cloths patterned with a subtle green and yellow stripe.  Super absorbent, soft, stylish and practical.

If you are not so lucky to have a Target or to find these items in stock, there are a bevy of vendors featuring handmade lemony linens on Etsy.com.  My favorites?  The individually hand screened designs printed on 100%  cotton flour sack towels by Cindy Bazor of Bazor Designs in Metropolis, Illinois and Amanda Gray-Swain of Sprouted Designs in St. Louis, Missouri.   Both designers elevate the lemon to its rightful state: an art form.  🙂

Hand drawn, hand screened lemons by the slice.  Bazor Designs on esty.com.

Individually hand screened juicy lemon halves on flour sack tea towels by Sprouted Designs, etsy.com.

 

Phew, it’s great to back!

A Pelargonium Point of View

Pelargonium.  Pelargonium.  Pelargonium.  What a lovely and, sadly, underutilized name for an equally lovely plants species more commonly, if not incorrectly, known as “scented geranium.”   While related to geraniums, pelargoniums are in a class of their own and the scented cultivars come in a variety of fragrances: mint, rose, lemon, nutmeg, apricot, ginger, and more.  Just browse through your local nursery and gently rub the leaves to release the essential oils and determine which ones tickles your fancy, er…nose. 

The flowers of Orange Fizz are quite beautiful and, when rubbed, the leaves smell even more citrusy and lemony than those of the lemon pelargonium!  Note the asymmetrical flowers, a distinguishing characteristic that separates pelargoniums from geraniums.

Scented pelargoniums are put to use in recipes both culinary, such as this recipe for Quince Jelly with lemon pelargonium leaves, and cosmetic as in this recipe for Bath Vinegar: 2 oz rosemary, 2 oz rose petals, 2 oz lavender, 2 oz mint, 2 oz rose geranium leaves, 6 cups apple cider or white vinegar, 1 cup rose-water. Mix herbs and flowers together; add vinegar. Bottle and steep in refrigerator for 3-6 weeks. Strain and rebottle. Add a few fresh herb sprigs and the rose-water. Or, just crush a few leaves and add to a hot steeping bath!

For a delightfully easy flavored and scented sugar to enhance teas and recipes, layer your choice of clean, scented pelargonium leaves between layers of sugar and store in an airtight jar for a week before using.  I used the finer castor sugar with two complimentary pelargonium varieties, Lemon and Orange Fizz.  Heavenly!

Layer scented pelargonium leaves and sugar to add flavor and fragrance to your teas and recipes.

Another easy use is to add a few scented leaves to the end of a drier cycle when clothes are hot and the leaves can tumble and transfer their fragrance.  I think the Victorians had the right idea, however, by lining walkways with scented pelargoniums and herbs such as lavender so that when full skirts brushed by, essential oils would be released into the air, imparting their heady fragrance to passersby.   

And while today’s hemlines don’t accommodate such a romantic notion, what could be easier than to plant of pot of your favorite pelargoniums on a patio table so that you can absentmindedly touch their leaves and smell their hidden gifts on a sunny, daydreamy day? 

A Pot o’ Pelargoniums. Left to right: Lemon, Rose Geranium, and Orange Fizz.

Besides having different names, here are some others ways to distinguish a geranium from a pelargonium:

Flowers True geraniums, known as cranesbill in reference to the shape of their fruit, have symmetrical flowers with ten fertile stamens. Pelargoniums, on the other hand, have bilaterally symmetrical flowers with up to seven of the ten stamens fertile. 
Seeds  Geraniums fling their seeds away while Pelargonium seeds float away on the breeze and usually have a ‘feathered ‘ end that Geraniums don’t have.
Perennial vs. Annual  Pelargoniums are tender perennials, usually planted as annuals, and occur naturally almost entirely within South Africa.  Geraniums are perennials that come back each year.
Leaves  Those of true geraniums are usually deeply divided and cut while those of most groups of pelargoniums are not.  Scented pelargoniums are the exception, with leaves that are often deeply dissected and pubescent (fuzzy) which helps them to beat the heat.
Growth Habit  Pelargoniums have rather thick, succulent stems, originating as they do from typically more mounding in form with many slender stems arising from a central core, and fibrous roots.

And lest we lapse in remembering to call the pelargonium by its correct name, consider this point of view penned by Pelargonium Poet Laureate and flower hobbyist/hybridizer Cliff Blackman:

Ode from a Peeved Pelargonium

I am a Pelargonium–it truly is my name.

Please don’t call me geranium–it’s really not the same.

My tribe has many species and lot’s of cultivars, too,

with flowers that are zygomorphic (this seems to be known by few).

I have an adnate nectar tube–a quite distinctive feature–

to entice the bees to my flower as this ensures my future.

 

With a nature that is so friendly and with humans to assist,

my ability to hybridize has been impossible to resist.

I sometimes cross quite easily from the ones that you select,

creating lovely hybrids–those ones you must collect.

 

I have branched to many subgroups which include the popular four:

namely regal, zonal, ivy and angel but there are also many more.

So if you grow my offspring that descend from me,

I am a Pelargonium!  Please use this name for me.

Citrus to the Maxx

One of my favorite stores is T.J. Maxx.  And yes, it really is a “new store everyday!”  You have to be a certain kind of shopper to enjoy a store like T.J.’s, or T.K.’s as it is known in Europe.  The Maxx is not for shoppers on a mission or those, like the boyfriend, who like to go in, get it and get out.  On one trip into the Maxx, he lamented, “It’s like you’re just looking for things to buy.”   Exaaaactly!    You don’t really go into T.J.’s to buy, say, a specific item like a navy pair of shoes.  You go in and see what clever footwear just happens to be in your size and for a great price.   You feel so lucky when you find that perfect pair of shoes that you didn’t know you needed just a few minutes before.

On a trip to London, I was surprised to find the Maxx logo with a T.K. prefix. T.J.’s is T.K.’s in Europe so as not to be confused with the existing discount chain, TJ Hughes.

In addition to a veritable shoe buffet, T.J.’s features an abundance of body products such as soaps and lotions,  scrubs and balms, hand washes and perfumes, as well as shower gels and shampoos.  And, there are always lots of wonderful scents to choose from–Banana Vanilla and Cherry Almond, for example.  Citrus scents abound as well: Sumatra, grapefruit, lime, lemon, tangerine, kumquat, and more.

In just a few minutes, I gather up these examples to show how easy it is to find items that stand out on their own or look great bundled together for a gift.  While always a better deal at stores like Marshalls, Tuesday Morning, T.K. or T.J. Maxx, some products, or close similes thereof, are available online.   And, when it comes to facial products, be sure to check expiration dates.

Front row, left to right:

1. Body Shop’s Jolly Orange Bath and Shower Gel: a soap-free shower gel containing real orange seed oil with an aromatic scent of citrus and spice

2. Squeeze Eau de Parfum by Lilly Pulitzer. Fragrance Notes: pink grapefruit, lychee, lotus blossom, sun-drenched woods, water musk red currant, wild rose.

3. Lemongrass appears to be a favorite when is comes to hand soaps and T. J. carries several varieties.  Perhaps that is because the essential oils from the leaves of this grassy herb have an intense citrus aroma.  Lemon grass is also used to treat fungal infections and repel insects.  It’s interesting to note that the culinary influence of lemongrass shows up in how it is paired with other ingredients such as these lemongrass hand soap: Burt’s Bees with green tea, Kiss My Face with Clary sage, and the organic Nature’s Gate with Clary sage as well.  Good enough to eat.

4.  Lather up with this moisturizing Orange Jelly Bean Shower Gel and Bubble Bath from Philosophy.  Perfect for Easter baskets, too! The Maxx has a great selection of Philosophy products year round.
 

5.  Finds like this Bon Chic Seda France Orange Sumatra Flower candle are one of a kind’s from season’s past.  Visit Seda France for new luxury candle fragrances in citrus scents such as Italian Bergamot…or keep a look out for your own last season’s find and score a deal on this luxury brand.

6. I love reed scent diffusers to gently fragrance the home and T.J.’s always has a great variety to choose from, especially around the holidays.  Trinity Candle Factory is a nice online source for diffuser kits and they feature a long list of scents, including kumquat.  Kumquat, Chinese for “golden orange,” is exceptionally sweet and fragrant.  Although primarily sought after for their fruit, kumquat leaves and twigs provide oil prized for perfumery and aromatherapy.   Other citrus scents include Florida Orange and Lemon chiffon.  Handily, they have reed diffuser oil refills for order as well.    Another online source for diffusers is  Archipelago Botanicals  with scents such as Bergamot Tobacco, Mango Tangerine, Grapefruit, Pomegranate Citrus and Verbena Basil. 

 Back Row, left to right:

1 A blend of Tangerine and Lemongrass scents this hand soap.

2.  Oh, I wish I hadn’t left this little box of delectable Lavare lemon poppy seed bath soap squares behind.  Lavare products are always nicely packaged and feature botanical prints.  Great for gifts and stocking stuffers.

3.  A whimsical label.  Hand soap in sweet orange.

4.  And back to the Body Shop’s Jolly Orange line, this time in a body scrub.

Expand your search to linens and dinnerware as well.  On this outing, T.J.’s also features rustic  lemon themed dinnerware, “Lemon Sketch” by Maxcera. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So go on…take a stroll up and down the aisles until you find a treasure that you didn’t know you needed.  Your home will look and smell all the sweeter for it.