Aug 30, 2011

Florida Water

My Florida Water ingredients for this year

A refreshing scent, a stirring room, linen, or body splash or spray, or a spiritual tool? Florida Water is all these things and more. Debuting in the early 1800's as a his-or-hers cologne, the stimulating liquid created by Robert I. Murray gained popularity and was eventually re-created by other enterprising companies, though the Murray & Lanman brand is still one of the most recognized. The name is said to be a nod to the old tales that the Fountain of Youth might be hidden somewhere in Florida. The base word of Florida, flor, the Spanish word for flower, also alludes to the floral qualities of the liquid.

Florida Water has a varied history of uses. It was proposed to be not only a perfume, a tonic and something that might restore youth, but medicinal and curative. I can't speak to some of those applications here (and I'd never recommend ingesting anyone's version of the water) but Florida Water has become a popular ingredient in many people's spiritual and folk practices. There is a great deal of debt owed to the southern African American spiritual communities (from practitioners of Hoodoo, Voodoo, and Lucumi, to Catholics) for bringing the devotional and magical use of the liquid to the forefront.

As a spiritual tool, Florida Water is said to be pleasing to the spirits. Its traditional floral and citrusy scent is attractive and it is often employed as a holy or blessing water. There isn’t one specific recipe for Florida Water. I've come across blends that can include any number of ingredients, including the following:


The process of making your own splash or spray can range from simple to complex, depending on your ability to do the work and source the ingredients. For an easy blend, combine purified or distilled water and add the essential oils of your choice from the above list until you find you have a pleasing scent. Bottle, and bless your creation according to your spiritual tradition.

One of the selling points of some personal Florida Water blends is that they have included several different waters collected from locations considered sacred, such as holy wells or specific natural or man-made fonts or streams. You may include these waters in your blend, but you will need to add a high-proof alcohol to the mixture in order to keep the blend from turning rancid.

You can also make Florida Water with plant material, which is more labour intensive but really gives you a connection to the end result. This is the way I like to make my blend. I wild-harvest local flowers, roots, and other herbal material from a well-known area (and I often add some plants that I've grown). Employing flora from areas that I have a relationship with feels good to me, and I will usually ask to be led to the plants that want to be involved the creation of my water.

I place all the herbal material in a glass jar (it should be loosely full - not stuffed) and then fill the jar with a high proof alcohol. This is my Florida Water mother tincture. I may add different items to it if I am called to. Each year my mother blend is unique. There are times I may add tree resins, or a stone or a piece of silver or gold to the mother, though this isn't considered traditional. This tincture sits on my altar, often getting moon-baths under full or auspicious moons, for at least three moon-cycles, though I've had one blend that infused for almost a year.

When I'm ready to decant the water, I strain off the solid material and save the liquid in a labeled bottle. This tincture is potent, so it is diluted by at least half with purified water when added to smaller bottles. I like the convenience of having a spray, so I use mister-caps on my bottles (pictured below). Depending on the year, I might add sacred waters that I have collected and preserved. My last act is to add to the bottle a blend of essential oils that I created, to make this spray my own. This blend ensures that, despite the differing ingredients in the mother tincture each year, the spray has the spicy, citrusy scent I desire. 

Whether you make Florida Water simply, using some of the more traditional ingredients and essential oils, or whether you forage for natural materials and create your own inspired mixture, enlisting the help of plants is very rewarding and the resulting water is truly a blessing. Use it to feed your altars or ancestors, bless spaces or tools, or simply to refresh a room or your own spirit. Enjoy!

Please note: this article was heavily edited on July 6, 2017 to reflect my current Florida Water process. Aside from a few cringe-worthy punctuation errors, the previous incarnation of this post was an accurate snapshot of my process when I first set out making this water, but I've adapted and grown over the years and my working has shifted. Because this is an often-viewed post, an update was long overdue.

If you don't want to make your own Florida Water, I sell bottles of my blend here.

Aug 26, 2011

Spread The Love

I always love hearing of great organizations that bring a little joy into the lives of those less fortunate.  Simple things that we take for granted - food, toys, school supplies, clothing - are items that so many others in the world are lacking.  These charities are endeavouring to bring those things into the lives of children and families.  If you have a few extra dollars this payday, consider these worthy causes:

88 Bikes is an organization that will buy a child in a developing country a bicycle.  A simple thing - so much joy!

One of my all-time favourite charities is Heifer International.  They supply everything from farm animals and school supplies to a well for a community.

Each year, I get together with my co-workers and collect new items to fill shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.  These boxes filled with toys, school supplies, socks and whatever else we can squish in there, are sent to children all over the world.

Of course, we've heard alot lately about the devastating starvation occuring in the horn of Africa.  There are many organizations working on relief efforts, including CARE and Doctors Without Borders

Many are going through their own financial crisis these days, but it's amazing how good you feel if you just skip that latte and put the $5.00 towards helping someone else out.  And it doesn't have to be across the world.  Look next door - do your neighbours need anything?  Can you donate extra paper and pens to your local school?  Walk a dog at your local shelter?  There is so much we can do (whether monetary or not) to spread the love!

Aug 22, 2011

I Spy With My Little Mastercard - Art!

I've been in an Autumn mood this past week.  I've been seeing the geese flying overhead to settle in the lake South of our little town.  From there, they start their long journey to warmer climates for the Winter.  I've noticed some of the underbrush turning colour and the sky is getting that golden, hazy look that it gets when August is coming to a close.

There is still quite a bit of warmth left for us.  We usually get a gorgeous Indian Summer in September.  It's the perfect weather for me.  Warm, but not too warm.  I can wear blue jeans, but still wear sandals and t-shirts.  Even though the Summer is not done with us yet, my thoughts are as ever, turning to Fall.

I didn't get to the farmers market this weekend, but have been perusing my favourite online market Etsy this past week and found a few fun Autumn items.

From Vanessa at A Fanciful Twist, I bought some pretty postcards.  Anyone who reads her blog knows that she has a wonderful eye for photography and decorating.  I'm going to have fun sending these cards out this Fall!

I also ordered some Halloween tags from another wonderful blogger, Wendy, at The Halloween Tree.  Wendy's Etsy shop is called Artful Gypsy and has some of her cool digital art listed.

And I couldn't pass up a print of this amazing painting of Marie Laveau, by Carolina at House of Eleggua.  Amazing work, isn't it?  She now sits in a lovely frame on my altar.

I think I did pretty well on the shopping end of things last week.  Now to catch up on the gardening! 

Please note:  each photo used in this post is linked back to the owner's website.  These photos are used for promotional use only and are property of  the individual artists.

Aug 15, 2011

Must Have Magazines!

Thanks to this post by Kallan at The Secret Life of the American Working Witch, I now have a subscription to Witches & Pagans  magazine.  Apparently, the magazine was not paid for the magazines ordered by Borders due to Borders' bankruptcy.  For a small publishing company, this type of thing can be hard to bounce back from.  Kallan's post inspired me to subscribe to the magazine (I've been wanting to for a while.)  I can't wait to get my first magazine!

If you are looking for a good magazine and have a few dollars to support a great company (they also publish "Sage Woman" and "Crone" magazines) do stop by the website and subscribe.  You can also opt to subscribe to a downloadable magazine - great for those of you who can't remember what paper feels like because you are attached to your laptops.  For those who are still in the closet, you should know that the publishing company delivers it's magazines in plain envelopes with the company name "BBI Media" on the return address - no strange looks from the postal clerks!

Also picked up today, was this Fall 2011 issue of Country Gardens.  Put out seasonally, this magazine has lovely pictures, articles about gardens, growing, recipes and seasonal decorating.  Two Autumn articles in this issue are "Fresh Lanterns," which showcases unique ways to carve & light pumpkins & gourds for Fall decorating and "Autumn Porch," which shows before and after photos of a gorgeous porch decorated for the season.  One of the neat items is a pumpkin chandelier made with a vintage pot hanger and jack-be-little pumpkins strung on wire.  Super cute!

I know there are many of you that are not ready for Fall yet.  For some of us, Summer has just gotten started, but the last few days in the Valley have cooled off into breezy nights where a light sweater is a welcome friend.  Yes, the days are still in the 90's.  But that Autumn weather is coming, and I for one am always happy to see it arrive.  Along with all the great Fall magazines!

(Both magazine photos are from their respective websites and are borrowed only for purposes of promoting said magazines - which I have not been asked or paid to do.  Photos are linked to their respective sites.)

Aug 14, 2011

Farmers Market Saturday

Spotted at the local farmers market yesterday:

Clever signage made with kitchen utensils:

Plump red onions:

Gorgeous Delphinium:  Mine fell to mold this year with the very wet Spring/early Summer.  I chopped it down with sadness, but was thrilled to see last week that it had grown back, bushy and healthy!

Puppy dog tails:

Tiny peppers:  (I bought a good handfull of these cuties!)

The piper:

It's definitely pepper season!

When I saw these from the other side of the market, my heart skipped a beat.  I thought they were pumpkins!  I'm not a fan of spaghetti squash, but I almost bought one of these just for decoration.

Another successful market shop.  I came home loaded down with goodies.  I had fresh bruschetta last night on organic garlic and herb baguette, all from ingredients brought home from the market - yum!

I notice that my posts this Summer are almost primarily about gardens, farmers markets and fruit stands.  I do get rather occupied by Nature's abundance this time of year!

Aug 13, 2011

August Giveaway Winner Is...

I have drawn the name for the Celestial Tarot kit, and the winner is Birgit from Swapping Howdies!  (She has a wonderful blog - do go visit her!)

Congratulations!  Please email me your mailing address and I'll get this in the mail to you.

Check back in a couple weeks for the September giveaway.  It's my birthday month, so I'll be doing a few fun things!

Have a great weekend!

Aug 12, 2011

Wherever the Summer Takes Me

I've been wandering of late (us Wanderers often do.)  Meandering here and there, never lingering for too long...always something on the next horizon.  It makes for spotty blogging, unfortunately, but it does lend to having little tastes of many things - which is not only how I like to eat, but how I like to live.

I used to be embarrassed that I knew a little about so many things, but never specialized in one area.  I've always felt a bit under-educated, even though I spent a few years in college, because I didn't have a degree or a specific field of interest to speak about.  I've also mourned in myself, a lack of the "go-getter" gene.  I don't attack projects with wild abandon.  I don't go after something with all that I am, until I get what I want. 

I'm a mosey-er.  I linger.  I check out other options.  I take the less-travelled path, but also the one that's not so steep, if I can help it.  I'm like a distracted child - looking at this flower, asking a ton of questions, touching and smelling and tasting, and napping often.

It's frustrating for those people who don't linger, to deal with me.  My parents are "get the job done now" people.  I'd rather chase the cats around now, and get the job done later.  I'm not irresponsible by any means.  I go to work, I meet my deadlines, I show up when I say I will.  I just tend to leave most "have-to's" until the last possible minute to leave room for the "look at that's!"

It makes for a small life.  "Making it big" is not on my agenda.  Unless I win the lottery or stumble upon buried treasure while foraging plants in the forest, you likely won't ever see my picture in the newspaper.  But it's a sweet life.  I can tell you where there are wild strawberries growing in the hills nearby.  I can tell you the best place to get a Tandoori chicken panini.  I know an area near the ocean where the pumpkin fields go on for miles.  I know a winery with a hidden patio, that will sit you at a little bistro table and bring their wines to you to taste while you sit in the shade. 

I have projects that need working on.  A garden that needs weeding.  A pile of sticky notes with book titles, websites and other notes of interest that needs organizing.  I have herbs drying that will soon need to be put away in jars, fruit ripening that needs to be jammed, road trips not taken, a stack of books not yet read.  But everything will still be there tomorrow. 

Today, I'll just see where the Summer takes me.

Aug 9, 2011

Ornamental Gardens Sunday

Having far too many veggies already in the fridge, and more in the garden, I didn't make my weekly trek to the farmers market on Saturday.  Instead, on Sunday, my friend EcoDiva and her lovely girls took me to the ornamental gardens a few towns over.  Set on acres of land atop a hill, this gorgeous area is carved out of a forest of pine and fir trees and planted with flowers, shrubs and even herbs & veggies!

When we arrived, just after 9am on Sunday, we saw a group doing Tai Chi.  A nice way to start the day! (Clicking on the photos will give you a somewhat larger view if you want to see more detail.)

Lush planting beneath old growth trees:

A charming building on the grounds:

A stunning, multi-petal sunflower that I am coveting:

Arbors abound:

It was nice to see so many happy bumblebees on the flowers here.  In an area that is so highly agricultural (we were known for our orchards, but now mostly for our grapes) it's so important for us to have healthy, happy bees!

An amazing, feathery shrub filters sunlight through it's pink clouds of foliage:

Here is a close up of that shrub:

This massive pine had it's own stone circle around it, and has a place of honour at the entrance to the gardens.  The pictures I took don't do it justice - it was enormous!

It was a wonderful day spent with sweet friends! 

Aug 4, 2011

Looking Up in August - Celestial Giveaway!

I am usually hiding indoors and wimpering in defeat by the first week of August.  Normal temperatures in the Valley this time of year hover around 40 degrees Celsius (which is just over 100 degrees F.)  This year however, with it's lower than normal temperatures see us sitting at about 32 (89F) which is much more bearable and allows for more time outdoors in the garden.  Which translates to much less time in front of a computer.

Although my blogging has taken a hit, my spirit has a glow on.  Time in the garden, walking by the river, discovering local plants I hadn't noticed before and time under the stars have all proven to be very healing and have allowed me to keep up a fairly good attitude, even during the hottest part of the year when I'm normally wilting.

The part of August I always look forward to though (even during the super-hot years) are the Perseids.  The yearly meteor shower that shows off from the beginning of August, peaking around the 13th, is always a high point of my Summer.  Althoug the Geminids boast more metors, their December show is much more chilly!  This time of year is more conducive to laying in the grass and staring at the sky, and at about 60 meteors an hour you are are almost sure to see one, even if you only step out for a few minutes.

This year, your best bet is to try to see the Perseids earlier in the month.  By the time the shower peaks, the full moon will block out much of the show.  See if you can spot some shooting stars while the moon is waxing and the sky is dark.

In honour of the Perseids, this month's giveaway is the Celestial Tarot.  This deck "explores the mythological archetypes and astrological imagery that have inspired mankind since ancient times."  Take a look at this lovely deck:

As always, all you have to do is be a stalker in some form or fashion - follow the blog, find me on Facebook, subscribe to the RSS feed, or track me down on Twitter (links for all in the sidebar.)  Then, leave a comment (make sure I can track you down if you win) and that's it! 

I will draw for this deck (with booklet & spreadsheet) at the peak of the Perseids show - August 13th!  Good luck!