Wednesday 9 January 2013


“In industry is all.” - Periander (One of the Seven Sages of Ancient Greece).

The anniversary of the birth of:
John Smith
, American colonist (1580);
Gregory XV
(Alessandro Ludovisi), Pope of Rome (1554);
Carrie Chapman Catt
, feminist (1859);
Chaim Nachman Bialik
, poet (1873);
John Watson
, founder of behaviourism (1878);
Karel Capek
, Czech playwright (1890);
Gracie Fields
(Grace Stansfield), singer (1898);
Chic Young
(Murat Bernard Young), “Blondie” cartoonist (1901);
Rudolf Bing
, conductor (1902);
Simone de Beauvoir
, French writer (1908);
Richard Milhous Nixon
, 37th president (1968-74) of the USA (1913);
Gypsy Rose Lee
(Rose Louise Hovick), stripper/writer (1914);
Judith Krantz
, writer (1928);
Joan Baez
, singer (1941);
Susannah York
(Susannah Yolande Fletcher), actress (1941);
Crystal Gayle
, singer (1951).

The birthday plant for this day is lavender, Lavandula spica.  The name of the plant is derived from the Latin lavo = “wash”, as the plant has been used for centuries to scent bath water and soaps.  The Greeks called lavender nardos, from which the English “nard”.  This is because the herb grew abundantly in Naarda, Syria.  The plant signifies assiduity, mistrust and acknowledgment.  Mercury rules this plant according to the astrologers.  Before the more recent meaning of distrust was attached to the herb, lovers exchanged sprigs of lavender as a sign of affection:
            “He from his lasse him lavender hath sent,
            Showing her love and doth quit all crave.”
                                              (Michael Drayton, 1563-1631)

It was customary, however, for lavender not to be grown in a household where there were daughters, as “lavender will only grow in old maids’ gardens”. If the herb thrived in a garden, it was said that the daughter of the house would never marry.

On this day in 1848, Caroline Lucretia Herschel, died. She was an English astronomer, the sister of William Herschel for whom she worked as an assistant. She discovered 9 comets. Also died on this day in 1878, Victor Emmanuel, the first king of Italy.


1       400 g can of full cream, condensed, sweetened milk
1       canful of water
50     g butter

1/2    teaspoonful vanilla essence
2       drops of lavender essential oil

1/2    drop each of red and blue food colour (to make purple)
450   g granulated sugar


Pour the milk into a saucepan, fill the can with water and add it to the milk. Stir and add the butter, vanilla essence and sugar. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then boil steadily, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage (116˚C on a sugar thermometer). For a softish candy remove from the heat immediately and add the lavender oil and food colour, stirring all the while. Grease a 20 cm square tin with a little butter and pour in the unbeaten mixture. Allow to become almost cold and then mark into squares. Wrap the squares in cellophane once they are cold. (If you prefer a crisper candy, once the soft ball stage has been reached, boil slowly at 116˚C for a further 1-2 minutes, then treat as previously).

1 comment:

  1. I wonder where the mistrust and old maid elements come from. Lavender is the most important plant for most people when it comes to keeping their clothes drawers fresh. A few sprigs inside an open envelope smell wonderful for months, even as the flower bits dry.