Thursday, December 20, 2018

Cozy Up This Winter With A Lavender Coffee

Winter has descended at the farm.  Brief, cold days are quickly overtaken by long, long, cold nights. It is quiet and peaceful out in the silent fields.  Inside our production center, however, it's cozy and warm and always a hustling and bustling of activity. 

The key ingredient to this cozy and warm environment is our Lavender Gourmet Coffee.  It's warm in the hand and helps get everyone going in the dark early mornings.

Lavender Coffee made with our organic lavender from Pelindaba Lavender Farm

For dark, chill mornings or afternoon pick ups as the sun is setting, our Lavender Gourmet Coffee is indispensable.  Each sip, with its exotic and truly distinctive flavors and aromas, will transport you from the depths of winter to our blooming lavender fields in summer.

Brazilian Beija Flor coffee beans are medium roasted and ground here on San Juan Island by local roaster San Juan Coffee, then blended with our own organically certified culinary "Provence" lavender buds.  The wonderful marriage of strong, full-bodied flavor and delicate, slightly sweet floral tones is a unique treat for the adventurous palate.

The Brazilian Beija Flor coffee beans are shade grown on small family farms, without the use of harmful pesticides.  Our lavender is also grown on a small family* farm, although in the full sunshine, without the use of harmful pesticides.

*While not a biological family, Pelindaba is made up of close knit, dedicated people who are family in every other sense of the word.

Lavender Coffee made with our organic lavender from Pelindaba Lavender Farm

From our family and farm to you, enjoy a hot cup of Lavender Gourmet Coffee this winter.

If you like your coffee sweet, try stirring in a generous teaspoon of our Lavender Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce.  Lavender and chocolate and coffee – a to-die-for combination!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Simple Holiday Table Arrangement (with lavender!)

'Tis the season!  'Tis the season of festive gatherings around the table with friends and family.  From intimate holiday dinners to large parties, there is much hosting happening.  Here's a quick and easy idea for an elegant tablescape for your next gathering, using simple natural materials from your yard or local woods and dried lavender bouquets.

Lavender Table Arrangements for the Holidays

How to Create a Lavender Holiday Table Arrangement


 Supplies and Materials:

  • Clippings of evergreens, ivy, holly or any other interesting greenery collected from a “walk about” in the yard
  • Mossy or lichen tinged branches 
  • Dried lavender
  • Candles of your choosing (here we've used tall cream candles in clear glass holders)
  • Twine
  • Natural linen table runner or tablecloth (or one that suits your decor best) - optional
  • Garden clippers 
As you are gathering your natural materials, look for a variety of greenery shape, texture and size.
Holiday table decor made with organic lavender from Pelindaba Lavender Farm

Instructions for Assembly:

  • Lay a tarp or drop cloth next to your table (it can get messy and this will make clean up easier!).
  • Organize your palette of evergreens, branches, pine cones, lavender, etc on the drop cloth for easy access as you build your arrangement.
  • Begin with the foundation.  Lay your table runner long the center of the table, cover the display surface you are working on with a tablecloth to best suit your decor or leave the surface bare if that suits your aesthetic best.  
  • Place a large architectural branch in the midpoint of your surface as a framework for the arrangement.  You'll work out from the midpoint to achieve a balanced presentation.

Lavender Table Arrangements for the Holidays with Pelindaba's Organic Lavender

  • Place candles evenly along the table runner.  Start at the center and space them evenly on either side extending towards the ends of the table.  Use as many as you like, just be sure to use an odd number.  Odd numbers tend to be more visually pleasing.
  • With the foundation branches and candles in place we're ready to add the flora! 
  • Using the denser greens (like fir, pine and holly) build a foundation of evergreens beneath and reaching out the ends of the branch towards either end of the table.
  • As you go, add small groupings of 5-7 lavender stalks amongst the evergreens organically to look as though the lavender is growing naturally from the greens.

Lavender Table Arrangements for the Holidays with Pelindaba's Organic Lavender

Lavender Table Arrangements for the Holidays with Pelindaba's Organic Lavender 

  • Taper the volume and width of greens used at the ends of the distance you plan to span across the table.

Simple Lavender Table Arrangements for the Holidays with Pelindaba's Organic Lavender

  • Using the foundation branch as a frame, loosely wrap the ivy along the branch, hooking it naturally within arms of branches to secure it. 
  • You can create lovely volume by securing the ends of additional ivy or other vine-like greens under the branch and allowing them to spill out the length of the tablescape. 
  • Trim a handful of lavender stalks to just below the height of your candle holder and tie it to your candle(s) with natural twine.  Be sure to keep the dried lavender well away from any open flame!

Easy Lavender Table Arrangements for the Holidays with Pelindaba's Organic Lavender

Lavender Table Arrangements for the Holidays with Pelindaba's Organic Lavender

  • To finish the look, tuck a few pine cones and other interesting greens sparingly throughout the display.
  • And, add a bit more lavender if the look is feeling overly green.  
  • Be sure to tuck all stems and stalks under the greens to create the impression that everything is naturally growing together right there on your table.
  • You are ready to light your candles and finish setting the table for your exquisite feast! 

Lavender Table Arrangements for the Holidays with Pelindaba's Organic Lavender

Lavender Table Arrangements for the Holidays with Pelindaba's Organic Lavender

In need of some culinary inspiration for your holiday hosting to match your table arrangement?  Our Lavender Cookbook is full of delicious meals, sides, sauces, and desserts — each one incorporating the unique flavor of lavender.

From our table to yours – a very Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Earthbox Inn & Spa Staff Visits Pelindaba Lavender Farm - Behind the Scenes

The kind folks at Earthbox Inn & Spa wrote about their recent visit to our Gatehouse Farm Store and production center this fall.  They graciously gave us permission to share their musings with you.  We hope you enjoy reading about their behind-the-scenes experience as much as we did!

Behind the Scenes - Visiting Pelindaba Lavender Farm

I recently had the absolute pleasure to get a private tour of the production facility at the Pelindaba Lavender Farm on gorgeous San Juan Island.  The farm, its lovely farm store and visitor’s center are one of the main tourist attractions on San Juan Island in the Summer, however the production facility on site is not open to the general public.  We here at the Earthbox Inn & Spa source all of our body care products for our guest rooms from Pelindaba, because they are amazing, local, certified organic and a big plus--dispensing them in bulk cuts down on a lot of waste.  Especially important on a little island.  So I got to go see how all the good, purple stuff is made.

The Gatehouse Farm Store and Visitor's Center at the Pelindaba Lavender Farm
The Pelindaba Lavender Farm has grown in the last two decades from a simple, beautiful piece of property, which their owner, Stephen Robins, wanted to preserve as open space to a self-sustaining, vertically-integrated model of successfully harnessing farming, manufacturing, marketing and agritourism activities that are environmentally sound and economically viable.  Today Pelindaba operates 12 stores nationwide and produces over 200 lavender products for decorative, culinary, personal care and therapeutic uses.  Pelindaba employs 40+ people year-round on San Juan Island, which is economically significant for a place where year-round work is very hard to find.  The farm is open all year to visitors and is a serene place to visit any time of the year.   Visually, the most rewarding time to visit is during July and August, when the purple crop is in full bloom and you can not only see, smell and touch lavender, you can also hear it.  There is a steady busy bee buzz all around you (don’t worry, they are calm and perfectly content with the delicious nectar and not at all interested in people).

Behind the Scenes: Pelindaba's Production Facilities

Packaging Day in Production

Amelia, Pelindaba’s Director of Marketing and Sales and my “behind the scenes” escort, guided me through the same route the lavender would enter the production facility: through a large roll-up door in front.  Here the purple crop can go one of three ways: drying, distilling or hydrosol, the three bases for all products made here.  The raw material is then divided into culinary and non-culinary sections, since different laws govern the two.

We visited the non-culinary side first.  A large, light room with big tables in the middle with product stacked high along the walls.  Women face each other while putting perfect bows on little purple (handmade) packages, stickers on bottles and a sprig of lavender through a ribbon.  Everything here is made by hand and in house, from research and design to manufacturing.  There are days when body care products are made, some when bottles are being filled and others when ribbons and stickers are placed on the bottles.  Some work is outsourced to other local crafters, like the woman who sews lovely little purple pouches.

Pelindaba integrates art from local artists into their impressive line-up, like lavender-themed ceramics.  Those gems are often only available at the Gatehouse Farm Store at the Farm.

More Lovely Lavender Gift Packages

75% of all lavender products made here are made from the Grosso variety of lavender.  Its essential oil gets better with age – like wine.  Right now, the oils from 2014 are being processed.  It takes two lavender plants to make one ounce of essential oil.  A lavender plant usually produces for about 15 years and virtually nothing, no weather, no vermin, no drought, can destroy a crop.

Behind the Scenes: A Guided Tour Through Pelindaba's Certified Kitchen

Freshly Baked Lavender Cookies from Pelindaba's Certified Kitchen

The next step in my guided tour, gave me a peek at the culinary side of things in the huge and airy commercial kitchen.  This is where lavender cookies, chutney, chocolate and coffee are made.  The lavender coffee is very popular at the moment.  Pelindaba sources its coffee from the local San Juan Coffee Roasting Company, who in turn source their coffee from small family farms, who grow their crop in the shade and without the harmful use of pesticides.

Lavender Chutney and Honey and Coffee, Oh My!

Pelindaba’s production has essentially doubled in the last two years, making it necessary to lease additional fields to grow lavender on San Juan as well as Orcas Island.  In their off-island retail stores, large pictures of the farm tell the Pelindaba story, instilling a strong sense of place.  Pelindaba’s customers range from gift-givers seeking souvenirs of their time on San Juan Island, to handcrafters to culinary adventurers.

Lavender used to be a very popular herb before WWII, especially in Europe.  Sadly in England virtually all the lavender fields burned during the war.   Thereafter, most of the needs that the versatile herb had previously filled, were replaced with chemicals.  This is finally beginning to change!  Learn some fun facts about lavender, like Why Tanners didn’t get the Plaque, here.

Returning to the tour: in the back of the large warehouse in the inventory area, the culinary and non-culinary goods come together.  All orders, from individual customers ordering online to big orders to retail stores as far away as Florida, Colorado and Ashland, OR, and as near as La Connor, Bainbridge and Edmonds are put together and shipped from here.  Voila!

Pelindaba's Fields in Full Bloom
An absolute must-do when visiting San Juan Island is to have a sunset picnic in the farm’s rolling purple fields, speckled with sitting areas and stunning sculptures.  The fields are waiting for you: they are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The peaceful atmosphere, magical light and ever-distinctive smell are truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Contributed by: Earthbox Inn & Spa

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Easy Tutorial for Unique Gift Wrapping (with lavender!)

Are you a little bored with the traditional holiday wrapping papers and bows?  Let's mix it up this season with a natural palette of colors and textures inspired by the farm.  

Tips for wrapping all your lavender gifts this holiday season

Out in our lavender fields, the plants are beginning to transition to their annual season of rest when they go dormant.  Muted grays and light browns are visible in the architectural form of the pruned plants and in the surrounding bare trees that have shed their summer leaves.  Stones and rocks around the grounds are black with recent rainfall and the towering fir trees that border the farm provide a backdrop of deep, vibrant greens in contrast to the cool gray skies.

Into this rustic environment we'll add moments of warm gold and purple to bring an elegant contrast to our natural palette straight from the farm.

Tips for wrapping all your lavender gifts this holiday season

 Gift Wrapping with Lavender

Gathering a range of materials to create this rustic, elegant look for your holiday wrapping is easy.  First, pillage your own at-home stashes of crafting supplies or reusable materials.  Your local craft store is a great place to augment your supplies as well.  Here's a list of ideas to get you started...

For the wrappings...
  • kraft paper in creams and tans
  • muslin draw string bags
  • tissue paper in creams, golds and blacks (add a little dark purple for a visually exciting contrast)
  • paper bags in kraft and black
  • plain boxes in creams and blacks

For the ribbonings...
  • yarn in creams and tans
  • twine in neutrals and blacks
  • leather cording in tans and blacks
  • wide satin ribbons in blacks, golds and deep purples
  • slender tinsel cording or ribbon in golds, blacks and deep purples
  • tassels, pom poms or other non-bow toppers

For the finishing touches...
  • dried lavender
  • greens (fir, pine, rosemary, eucalyptus, holly...let your creativity run wild!)
  • gift tags (you can make these out of any heavy paper, a hole punch and some twine or slender ribbon)

Tips for wrapping all your lavender gifts this holiday season

Now mix and match the colors and textures of your wrappings and ribbonings to create contrasting looks for each package.  Black ribbon or twine on a light kraft colored box... Wide purple ribbon on a cream box... Cream yarn on a black box... The options are endless!

Playing with proportion and volume using ribbons can yield some wonderful looks as well.  Try wrapping a box many times with a slender ribbon, twine or yarn.  Secure it with a small knot and then fan the ribbon out on the sides of the box.  Or, using a very wide ribbon, make a simple knot with long tails on a large box.  Try doubling or tripling yarn or twine to both wrap the box and create a loose bow.  Small tight bows can be fun for small packages and big floppy bows for large packages.

For a simple finishing and to bring a touch of the organic, add a sprig of greens and/or several stalks of dried lavender under the bow or knot along with your gift tag.

As an alternative to gift tags, write your "to" and "from" on the package itself with black or deep purple pen.

Tips for wrapping all your lavender gifts this holiday season

There are no rules for how to assemble your natural, farm inspired palette of wrappings, ribbonings and finishings.  Have fun with your creativity.  If you like it, it's perfect!

To extend the lavender farm inspired theme, include one of our handcrafted lavender products in the gifts you are wrapping up.  Did you know we make our wide range of products right on the farm?

With over 200 products we have something lavender for everyone on your list!  And, with free standard shipping within the US, it's easy to share lavender with all!