By Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
I went to the 5th annual Organic Islands Festival & Sustainability Expo with my friend Faith. What a lovely way to spend a summer’s day.
Held at Glendale Gardens in Victoria, BC, this was not something to rush through. I’m glad we got there at 10:00 am just as the gates were opening because that gave us time to stroll through the whole place and chat with vendors along the way as we nibbled on the free samples made with organic ingredients. We were there under the hot summer sun for 4 hours!
I was mostly looking for ideas and products that would fit in nicely with the Homespunspa philosophy of stress management, self-care and sleep. Although I didn’t find a close match, I realized that meant there would be room for Homespunspa next year. Time to start planning.
As we walked through the gardens, we learned about local yoga classes, shea butter, hemp, agave syrup, juicers, composting, old-growth forests, vegetarian diets, etc., etc., etc. I bought some organic salmon treats for my cat, Charlie — which he gives a thumbs up to — and I gave a couple of dollars to the Green Party of Canada. Faith bought a lovely purple scarf. We each sat in the air chair to test it out and to me, it was like sitting in a space shuttle. Fun, fun, fun.
My favourite moment was when I stumbled upon some lemon verbena. I bought a cutting from certified organic, Echo Valley Farm and was so excited, Faith had to buy one too. Everyone who was in earshot of us wanted to buy their own also, but we took the last two.
The next time you come across a lemon verbena plant, rub the leaves with your thumb and forefinger and you’ll immediately fall in love with the bright, lemon fragrance. It’s a perfect ingredient for a home spa. It’s also, as I learned in my research, Scarlett O’Hara’s mother’s favourite herb.
Because it is one my faves too, I have many recipes using lemon verbena in my “How to throw a home spa pajama party the Homespunspa way” book ($24 CAD plus shipping).
Tea made from lemon verbena leaves is mildly relaxing yet refreshing at the same time. Drink a cup for sleeplessness, nervousness, irritability, bronchial and nasal congestion, indigestion, nausea and flavour.
Here is a recipe for Loungey Lemony Tea from page 93 of my book. Drink this bright and cheerful tea to help you manage stress and relax.
Loungey Lemony Tea
- 2 TB lemongrass — Tones oily skin and leaves hair feeling soft and conditioned. As a tea, it can be taken to diminish headaches, digestive problems and fevers.
- 1 TB lemon verbena — Tea is mildly sedative. Fragrance lends itself well to baths and is soothing for puffy eyes. Not recommended for pregnant women.
- 1 TB lemon balm — Calms depression and restlessness. Useful in treating inflamed skin, conditions oily hair.
- 1 TB oatstraw — Helps manage stress. High in B vitamins, calcium, iron and zinc, tea also nourishes bones, teeth, hair.
- 2 tsp passionflower — Makes a sedative tea useful for anxiety, insomnia, PMS, tension. Soft on skin in beauty recipes. Use only Passiflora incarnata. Not for pregnant women.
- 2 tsp rosehips — Anti-depressant and sedative. Can be added to beauty recipes for fragrance and for their astringent, anti-inflammatory and wrinkle-reducing properties.
- 2 tsp calendula — Good for all skin types. Antiseptic, astringent, cleansing, moisturizing, toning.
- 2 tsp skullcap — Steep as a relaxing tea to strengthen nerves, soothe headaches, reduce muscle cramps, calm anxiety, help digestion and clear away insomnia.
- 1 tsp lemon peel — Can be massaged into temples for headaches or added to relaxing tea blends for flavour or to baths for their zesty aroma.
Method: Combine dried herbs and flowers and store in an airtight, light-proof canister.
Manner: Place 1 tablespoon of loose tea in a tea pot. Boil 2 cups of water and pour over herbs. Steep for 5 minutes. Strain out the herbs and pour into cups. It’s also great cold, over ice.
Caution: Prolonged use may cause stomach irritations, photosensitivity and may irritate skin. Not recommended for pregnant women.
In addition to drinking this tea, Loungey Lemon Tea is a great recipe to pour into an aromatherapy bath that will soften your skin and inspire sweet dreams.
For more information on Canada’s largest outdoor green festival, visit, organicislands.ca