Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Soap, Vinegar, Oil and Sachets at Southern Exposure

If there is any one thing I look forward to more than others when spring begins to smile, it's that first trip to Southern Exposure for a garden walk, fabulous dinner and a creative experience.

For those new to the Gypsy, Southern Exposure is an herb farm and garden near Battle Creek, Michigan. It includes several buildings in which dinners are served to guests and decorating crafts are taught. Numerous weddings are held here as well.

In addition are loads of gardens that travel with the seasons from daffodils in the spring to pumpkins in the fall.

It is my happy place.

And the first visit of the season is always filled with anticipation. Will we hit early flowers at peak?

Will the weather be nice? Anything new in the chicken coop?

My friend Kate and I arrived on a somewhat dreary late afternoon, but the earlier rain had dried and we enjoyed a wonderful walk in the gardens before coming in for dinner.

There is thought put into everything they do, whether it is a series of stone towers that appear...

... a drawer filled with ivy...

 ... or a simple, yet elegant table setting.

One of my favorite spots is the greenhouse. It's very small and yet they create the most beautiful vignettes.

Here's a closer look.

Now, isn't that the prettiest thing? Oh, so many more lovelies here!

We couldn't resist a gazebo selfie, either!

And the setting was so very pastoral. Literally!

After we walk the gardens (we always arrive in time to walk the garden!)   we enjoyed a beautiful dinner in "The Milking Parlour."

Our Easter springtime feast included ham, new potatoes, a wonderful salad and home baked bread, asparagus and strawberry rhubarb pie by Chef Elsie. (The pie went home to Rick. Alas...)

After dinner the group of about 60 divided into four and we rotated to various sites. Our group first went to the Main House where Scott invited us into his kitchen and dining room to make herbed vinegar.

Everything was perfectly organized for us. We stuffed our wine bottles with spring onions, a dianthus bloom, a sweet red pepper slice (skewered) and some dill.

Then we went to the kitchen and filled the bottles, being sure our herbs were below the vinegar line. (Otherwise, they may mold quickly.)

The finished product, with a bit of cloth and raffia to finish it off!

Then it was off to the Corn Crib where Micah taught us how to make soap! Our supplies were set out for us on parchment so we could easily wrap them to take home.

We kneaded the mozzerella-like grated goats milk soap block and added hefty doses of oatmeal, lavender and a bit of lavender oil and molded them into bars.

The soap could be used immediately but he advised us curing them in a cool, dry place for two weeks to harden and they'll last longer. No room has ever smelled as good as the Corn Crib!

Or, for that matter, looked so charming with sweet holiday vignettes everywhere you looked!

It was back to the greenhouse, where Angie was in charge of talking about sachets.

Ours used lemon verbena and dried roses (she said San Francisco Herb Company was her supplier), stuffed into organza bags.

That room smelled pretty amazing, too!

Then it was off to Chef Elsie's Kitchen where Josh guided us through infused vinegars.

All the supplies were waiting for us! We were each given a pretty bottle to which we added a clove or two of garlic and a hefty sprig of rosemary.

Then again, we filled the bottle to above the herb line.

Our instructions included letting the vinegar and oil cure for about two weeks, tipping the bottles now and then, to fully develop the flavors.

I left behind beautiful areas of just blooming flowers...

...loads of dried rose petals...

...and memories of sweet, bright pansies.

But I brought home with me many treats!

(And a plan to return in a few weeks for another project and a garden update! Stay tuned!)

Join me in checking out fun links at Share Your Cup, Share Your Style, Sweet and Simple Saturdays, Monday Social and Pink Saturday!


  1. How wonderful! I love that you can venture off to your "happy place" every once in the while. We do need something like this for sure.

  2. What a wonderful place. I swear I could smell the aromas as you described what you made. I would so love to go there. Glad you were able to have such a wonderful outing with good food and company - really everything you need for body and soul. Hugs, Valerie

  3. Oh, you went to "that place" again.....I love love love when you go there---the pictures are always so fun and the crafts so interesting, I think I remember 3 visits here I remember you've blogged, and I've sure enjoyed them all. I think the vinegar looks amazing, I love vinegar! Hope you're feeling better and your doc appt goes well coming up!

  4. The gardens at Southern Exposure are fabulous. I loved the various vignettes, both inside and out.

    Ironically, I gave herb infused oils and vinegars, along with handmade soap and bombs for Christmas one year. I grew my own herbs and collected bottles from friends who drink alcohol. I even decorated each bottle, and made little recipe books telling what was in each bottle, and various recipes for using them. I made my soap from scratch (using lye, various oils, and Essential Oils). I've never heard of how you made your soap. I did put oatmeal in one batch for exfoliating soap.

    I realize all the materials were pre-purchased or prepared to size in advance, but it was still a LOT of work for a single day, especially after a big meal. You did GOOD. And you have some pretty special and scented memories, too.

  5. Oh I would have loved to go to that place. Sure wishes we had one like that here. We do have some beautiful gardens, but VERY EXPENSIVE. I like to go and just walk around and get ideas.

    Enjoy all your treats.


  6. What a delightful post, Dearest One !
    I so love to follow you in this so charming place, it is always such a treat, thank you for sharing all the charm you always find there !

    Wishing you a most lovely remainder of your week,
    I'm sending my dearest love to you

    XOXO Dany

  7. I get why you love this place. It is amazing. Sounds like you had a great time. Hugs-Erika

  8. You find such great ideas when you go there! We have been to a couple of local garden stores this week, but they don't bother with making attractive displays from their wares. Just have racks and racks of stuff. Do you ever take classes in outdoor decorating for using garden sculptures or benches or whatever? Or just indoor?

    best... mae at

  9. What a terrific spring day outing, with so many cool projects! I wish we had something similar here....what great surroundings too! Love that greenhouse the most!

  10. I wondered when your first trip for this year would be. I always think it sounds like such a wonderful place to visit, so I'm not surprised you consider it your happy place. As usual, it sounds like you had a great time. Also, dinner sounds delightful, as usual.

  11. What a delightful spring adventure!

  12. What an outing much in one outing..WONDERFUL:)

  13. This looks like an amazingly fun time!!

  14. Breathtaking...what an amazing place...with dinner and! Thanks for bringing us along. :)

  15. What a lovely place to visit, Jeanie. I've heard of Southern Exposure before. That picture of the angel with the yellow flowers made me smile, it's sweet. And the garden picture of the straw lady with hat and rain boots is something else. You know I loved those dried rose petals. And a cute selfie picture too! There's just something about your photos that make my heart sing, Jeanie. They're not only pretty, but interesting as well.


  16. OHHHH what fun! Everything about this post is such a sensory experience. Feeling the coolness of the rain, wearing a slicker, being excited like children to see the new baby animals, the daffodils.....I LOVE THAT PLACE!

  17. Jeanie what a delight Southern Exposure appears to be! I would love to spend such a day with you creating. Please let me know how you are doing. I am keeping you in prayer.
    May you enjoy a beautiful spring and a wonderful week!

  18. You have been having a wondrous time. Everything looks so lovely.

  19. Oh Jeanie, what a wonderful place to visit.. The photos are so inviting.
    There is not a better combination than rose petals and lemon verbena!
    Thank you so much, Jeanie for your most welcome visit. I have been away so long. It is good to be back.
    I have missed you

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. Oh my gosh, I wished we had something like that around here. Nashville offers a lot of things but I don't think there is a place like that. Personally, one of my fav things is oatmeal soap. I love it. I have a friend that makes and sales her soap in big bars and my cousin makes hers with goat milk....I actually have a couple of bars coming from her in the mail. Rosemary and garlic....two great taste together. Love rosemary!!Looks like you had an amazing time and I can't wait to see what you post after the next visit!

  22. Gosh that place is so beautiful! There is just so much to take in! I love that you got to work on several different things. I love the smell of lavender so would have been happy in the soap room. It's such a soothing smell!

    Can't wait to hear how you use that oil and vinegar!

  23. Now if I didn't know how sweet you are...I'd think you are just rubbing it in! You know how much I want to go there. :)

    So glad you have a wonderful day in such a great place. You have the prettiest smile!

  24. Southern Exposure looks like a dream of a place to visit. What wonderful projects you got to make and take.

  25. Quite the "Spring Pick Me Up" I would say . . .
    What fun . . . and presents for self too!
    Nice treat for you after being a bit "under weather!"

  26. Everything looks so beautiful and you always do something fun.

  27. Jeanie, what a fabulous day you had...a beautiful garden, delightful dinner, and then instructional classes. Just about perfect, I would say! Thanks for sharing it with us!

  28. Come by and see my post tomorrow if you get a chance. I think you'll like it. : )


  29. This is sooo JOY-full!! I've said it before I'm sure, but I do wish we had such a place here... I could live there... LOL! VERY fun with the making of the herb-infused vinegars. That's something I've wanted to try more of. Soap making is something I've never tried, but always wanted to. This type you've made sounds simpler than some. I need to read more about this! What fun to enjoy, make and bring home the fruits of your day! :) Love when you take us along to Southern Exposure! ((HUSG))

  30. Another excellent round of images. Thanks.

  31. What a dream it would be if I could plan to do this with you next year.

  32. A Wonderful happy place!Love everything!!

  33. Jeanie what a magical place. So full of spring flowers and so full of creativity. Enjoy your stash!

  34. Oh, I love this place! I almost feel like I was there when you post. I wold love to make my bottle like you did, that has to be fun. And, smelling the scents in the corn crib! Lunch looked amazing. You find so many ways to express yourself Jeanie...........

  35. I always love your visits to Southern Exposure! It's been a long time since I have made herb vinegars. I love them!! We have a similar place I love, but they don't serve dinners. Darn! That would be fabulous! Strolling gardens just makes me so happy! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  36. What fun! And what a perfect way to wake up the senses (and prepare for warm-weather adventures)!

  37. It would be my happy place also if I lived near enough to go there. Loved every single picture.

  38. I am so going to be rude and invite myself over to your place one of these days - you and your friends do the nicest things! These would all make the list of my happy place too!!! Oh, and don't forget to invite yourself over to Bangkok too!!!
    Have a good week
    Wren x

  39. Love the gazebo selfie! Lots of beautiful smiles and happy times! I love this post! Makes me smile too! Hugs!

  40. You're right about happy places... and in your post you highlight the joy of sharing these spots with others. Southern Exposure sounds like a place I'd make a regular visit to also. Thankyou for transporting us there too.


Thanks for coming by! I love your comments and will answer individually with email if your address is included! If you are a no-reply blogger, know that I appreciate your visit but may not be able to reach you. I had to take off anonymous comments due to too much spam. Sorry about that! Try to reach me another way because I love hearing from you.

Popular Posts