Saturday, December 3, 2016

My Two Favorite Gifts for Gardeners!

Can't Have Enough Pairs of Good Clippers!
My friend, Bonnie has given me some wonderful birthday presents over the years.  This year she outdid herself and found these Kuhn Rikon clippers that are perfect for me.  They are stainless steel, with washable blades and they don't make my hands tired after a lot of clipping.  They have bright handles so if you drop them, you can find them easily.  The Herbal Husband thought so much of them that he started to "borrow" them.  I just had to get him a pair of red ones to keep him from "borrowing" mine! 

Love the lemony smell of this cream!
And gift number two was this Gardener's Hand Repair Protective Conditioner by Earth Therapeutics.  They have a lot of other products and I will have to give this site a good look soon.  They even have a link to make sure your order is received by December 24th!  Also made in the U.S.A.  This particular hand repair has shea butter, oatmeal, alpha-hydroxy complex.  I have it on my bookshelf next to my chair in the den and I can just reach out and put some on any time of the day.  Of course, my favorite part is that it has a lemony scent!

Hoping you are having a great day wherever you may be.  The gray days have started here in the 'Burgh!  The weatherman said last night that we were one of the top five cities for gray days!  Can't celebrate that!  I have lived here all of my life except for a year in Boston and I can't imagine living anywhere else.  So I will talk to you tomorrow!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Catching Up on the Inside Garden, Herbally Speaking!

Hot and Sweet Peppers and What Else, Lemon Verbena!
Rosemarys and Texas Tarragon in the House!
Don't Think You Are Parking a Car in Here!
Well it is that time of year finally.  After our last 70 degree day two weeks ago, we have finally settled into our cold and gray period of weather here in the 'Burgh!  The herbal kids plus hangers on are in the garage, basement and living room.  I say this every year that we have to have less plants inside, but somehow that never works so well.  For example, I asked The Herbal Husband to harvest the Texas tarragon while I was away for my tea/afternoon overnight with Bonnie.  I came home to the whole plant in a container on the stationary tub!  Just wanted the stems!  He does love his plants even when they are in my herb garden!  We have a diverse group from mints to peppers and many tropicals indoors.  Of course the lemon verbena is inside.  The hot peppers are ripening.  A herbal giveaway!  A lot to talk about in December.  Hope you are having a great day.  I will talk to you tomorrow.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Herb Books Are Always A Good Gift!--Updated

I always think that books make a fantastic gift for any subject, but particularly for the herb gardener.  I love all of the classic authors, Adela Simmons, Bertha Reppert, Rosetta Clarkson, Mrs. C. F. Leyel, Helen Morgenthau Fox or Eleanor Sinclair Rohde to name just a few.  My contemporary favorite herbal authors include Emelie Tolley, Susan Belsinger, Jim Long, Tammi Hartung, Rosemary Gladstar, and Jekka McVicar.  Again to name just a few.  A friend on Facebook reminded me of the Language of Flowers and Herbs books that also fill my shelves are also great gifts whether old or new.  One of my favorite contemporary authors is Kathleen Gips and I believe a book in the photo is still available on Amazon.
Always at the Ready for Tussie Mussies!
You might also think about an herbal, spice or tea novel for that someone special.  A new one to me are the Spice Shop Mysteries of Leslie Budewitz.  I have not read any of them yet, but they all have recipes and who doesn't love a good mystery and a recipe too!  The other two series I have read all but the last two or three!  I have a lot of catching up to do.  Laura Childs' tea series and Susan Wittig Albert's China Bayles series are the other two favorites.  All available on Amazon.
The Spice, Tea and Herbal Mysteries!
A new book by Caz Hildebrand called Herbarium puts a very contemporary spin on the drawings of the herbs or maybe it is a take on the drawings from the old herbals.  Each herb has a page of focused information.  This is a English publication so there may be herbs that a U.S. reader will be unfamiliar with but that adds to the fun of learning, doesn't it?  I would recommend it.

Well, it has gotten colder here in the 'Burgh, but it is December already!  I don't know how the year flew by so quickly!  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Christmas Idea for the Gardener--Ironweed Apparel!

Had to Buy What I Am Going to Review!
Well while this post was not in time for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday nor Cyber Monday, I am hoping you go over to Ironweed Apparel and find a holiday gift for the gardener in your life!  You see this company is very close to me for it is run by a local husband and wife team who work in conservation and gardening communications.  The wife, Jessica Walliser was my first horticulture teacher, is now an author of four books and is a host of the Organic Gardeners radio program with Doug Oster among other gardening ventures.  I don't know how she gets it done!

I thought I had better get a shirt so I can tell you that the shirts are very soft.  I ordered a Medium and I usually wear a small, but it fits very nicely.  I think the fabric is called tissue paper.  I am looking forward to wearing it in the garden next season and I am thinking about getting another in a very large size and wearing it as a nightshirt.  They are very comfortable.  They are going to coming out with more designs and other products throughout the coming year.  So sign up for their newsletter and it will clue you in about their next products and you can suggest products that you would like to see in their line on Facebook if you follow them there.  Congrats Jessica and John!  Love my shirt and look forward to buying more products from you in the future.

A gloomy day in the 'Burgh, but warm for the last day of November.  Almost 60 degrees!  Where is this year going!?  Tomorrow starts 31 days of blogging, a giveaway, more Christmas ideas for the herbie or gardener in your life.  You get the idea.  Hope you are having a fabulous day!  Talk to you tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Lots Going On, Herbally Speaking and Happy Thanksgiving!

Had a Fun Afternoon Learning About Pittsburgh Area Tea Businesses!
Finished The Gardener by Blackbird Designs for Me!
Took a Tea Blending Class at Rosemary House!
Fresh from the Oven Scones at Sweet Remembrances!

A Beautiful Piece of Embroidery by Bertha Reppert!

Hot Pepper Jelly with Cream Cheese on Whole Wheat with a Parsley Garnish!
Bonnie's Beautiful Table Decoration for the Western PA Unit's Meeting!
One of My Favorites, Alfajores--A Cookie from Peru and Argentina and Other South American Countries!
The time keeps flying by.  So here are some of the highlights since we last spoke.  Our growing season has definitely ended.  We did have a bit of snow on the ground.  Forgot to get a photo!  Bonnie and I have been to the first Pittsburgh Tea Festival.  I think we would say it was a big hit especially discovering all of the tea businesses in the 'Burgh!  I stocked up on a few different chai blends for the winter to come.  Just click on the link above and you will have most if not all of the links for the vendors that were present.  I hopefully will be talking about my favorites as last minute Christmas gifts in the coming days.

I have been already doing my counted cross stitch that I love so much and I have finished The Gardener by Blackbird Designs for me.  I started The Fairy Garden by the same designer, Blackbird Designs.  They also do quilting and rug hooking patterns!  Next Bonnie and I took a short road trip down to The Rosemary House and Sweet Remembrances in Mechanicsburg.  We took a tea blending class with Susanna on Tuesday night and then had our second afternoon tea of the year with Nancy at Sweet Remembrances Tea Room and I made it a surprise birthday party for Bonnie.  She was definitely surprised!  Please if you are in the Mechanicsburg, PA area, remember to check out the wonderful herbal items that Susanna and The Rosemary House have to offer and have afternoon tea with Nancy every Wednesday and the first Saturday of the month!  Now that she is decorated for Christmas, you must go and have tea if you can and then you can check out Rosemary House right next door!

My final activity of the month was attending the local Western PA unit of the Herb Society of America's monthly meeting about South American cooking with an emphasis on Argentina.  Of course, they talked briefly about my favorite, lemon verbena.  Hope to get to discuss the Genus Aloysia in the coming months.  Larger than I thought!  Bonnie was in charge of food and boy, these ladies and gentlemen enjoy good food!  So hope November has been good for you getting plants situated in their new homes for the winter if you live in the northern half of the U.S. and drying others to use for potpourris and teas.

Can't believe tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States!  A time to be with family and friends!  The Herbal Husband and I met on Thanksgiving 33 years ago!  Seems like yesterday!  We enjoy having our feet up between basting the turkey and watching football.  We are spending the day on our own which is how we like it these days.  Going to have rain for turkey day.  Hope you stay safe and reach your travel destination if family is far away.  Hoping to do 31 days of blogging in December!  Going to be doing a surprise herbal giveaway in the early part of December so you will have it for the holidays!  Will talk to you sooner than later.  Happy Thanksgiving from The Herbal Husband and I!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

When A Bit Blue, Make Potpourri and Other Blooming News!

Layering Flowers and Herbs with Paper Towels!
A Whole Box of Herbal Potpourri!
Tiny Hemlock Cones Are Just the Thing for Essential Oil
The Rue Finally Bloomed!
The 'Hot Papaya' Has An Extended Bloom!
Morning Glory Seeds from Chile Are Still Blooming!
The Herbal Husband had a good idea this afternoon.  It was a two fold message!  Clean off your worktable in the basement and make some of your wonderful potpourri in the process.  It will cheer you up!  You see through the summer season, I try to clip herbs and dry them as I go.  We also clip our roses for table bouquets and they land between paper towels.  I had a pile of paper towels and it is like Christmas lifting off the next layer to see what is underneath.  I always find myself saying why didn't I dry more of this and that!  I use hemlock cones to drop some essential oil into the potpourri mix as I give it away. I use two or three at most.  Although it rained overnight, I may try to get some other things clipped before a freeze happens over the weekend.  We really haven't had a good frost yet.  The tomatoes are still growing in the back garden under Reemay!  They are looking a bit done if you ask me, but when it comes to growing stuff, The Herbal Husband is king!

Tomatoes Need to be Picked Before Frost!
So sorry I haven't been such a great blogger at the moment.  I just have been in other directions besides the garden.  And once that jelly burden was over, I just kicked up my heels and did some stitching.  I am just about to finish a piece called The Gardener by Blackbird Designs part of their Garden Club series.  I just have to embellish the hat and add an initial.  The piece is only 4" x 4" so it is very quick to do.

The Gardener
Hope you are having a great day!  It is gray here and maybe will be gray for awhile in the 'Burgh!  I will do my best to finish my England trip and share my favorite herbal Christmas crafts soon!  Oh, and I am going with Bonnie to the first Pittsburgh Tea Festival this Friday, November 11th.  Hopefully, if you are in the Pittsburgh, you can attend too!  Talk to you later.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Been Busy in the Herb Garden and Celebrating the 2016 Herb of the Year with a Jelly Recipe!

Rosemary Sherry Jelly Was One of 19 Batches of Herbal Jelly Made!
Last Pouches of Certo Used for Hot Pepper Jelly!
Keep Finding the Ladies!  This Time on Mint!
Mexican Sage--A Late Tall Bloomer in the Garden!
One Last Monarch on the Butterfly Bush!
One Last Gasp for Our Grape Arbor!
My Favorite Flowered!
This certainly has been a different year for me in the herb garden.  I have probably had years like this before.  As I get older my May trips to England affect the herb garden and the stresses have been weather related as well.  All of the photos above are from October.  I had a brain freeze about my jelly choices and fortunately I have a couple of the Western Reserve Unit of the Herb Society of America's cookbooks which saved me for flavors.  Thanks to all of those wonderful herb ladies for their inspiration  The hot pepper jelly recipe is from The Herbal Pantry by Emelie Tolley and Chris Mead.  As you can see in the photo, the peppers are suspended in the jelly which makes for a great presentation.  Here is their recipe with my notations in parentheses.

Hot Pepper Jelly
Makes 6-1/2 8 oz. jars (The half I will use for us.)
Recipe says it makes 8 8 oz. jars.  For me, it did not.

"An appealing combination of sweet and hot, this jelly is extremely good with chicken or lamb, or with cream cheese as an hors d'oeuvre.  Also you can use this as a glaze for ribs during the last 15 minutes of grilling or baking in the oven."

1 cup minced green bell pepper
1/2 cup minced hot red pepper, or to taste
1-1/2 cups cider vinegar
6-1/2 cups sugar
6 ounces (2 pouches) liquid pectin

Combine the peppers, vinegar, and sugar in a non-aluminum saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat and boil gently for 5 to 7 minutes.  Remove from heat.  (Quickly stir in the pectin and return to heat and boil exactly one minute).  Remove from heat and (Stir for a couple of minutes at least.  I stirred for 5 minutes.  Probably too much time because the Certo really started to go gloppy.  I think when you see the pepper pieces suspended you will know it is enough.)  Put carefully (because it is already just about set up) into sterilized jars that have been boiled previously for 10 minutes and use two piece rings and lids to cover.  Place the lids in hot water until ready to use.  You don't have to boil the rings.  Place all jars into a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.  As long as you hear that ping after the jars come out and the lids have sealed down, they are canned.  If the lid has not sealed, place them in the refrigerator and use them promptly.

"Note:  If the only hot peppers available are green, use a red rather than a green bell pepper."

In herb garden news, I did lose some herbs from the heat and dry weather.  We did have some winners from the annuals planted especially the Mexican sage which is blooming its head off at the moment.  Love those tall late blooming herbs!  And the beneficials are still around and you can participate just like me at Lost Ladybug Project, a project of Cornell University to find those lost ladybugs.  We also actually had a monarch last week as well.  Sadly not too many of them these days.  The grape arbor is finally going to be replaced.  Need the help of our neighbor, but hopefully that will happen in the next couple of weeks!  Maybe a Halloween treat!  And then finally our crowning achievement is that the lemon verbena both in the container and in the ground thrived so much so that they both bloomed.  Very excited!

Well, those are some of the high points of the herb garden this season.  Did cut my chives and chop them for my container in the freezer.  Did make a touch more purple basil vinegar.  Do have a small bush of mint marigold or Texas tarragon to harvest before the cold sets in.  Oh and some of the parsley will be cut and frozen for Parsley Dill soup.  And finally will clip back the lemon verbena in the ground and I am going to experiment with covering it with a fiberglass cover make for roses.  Maybe it will help bring it back.  It really like the space we put it in.

The herbal containers will be coming in the next two weeks.  Have also started several projects of cross-stitch, so I will post about the garden when I can.  The months are flying by with such speed and I don't seem to want to write as much as I used to.  A beautiful day in the herb garden and I'm inside posting here.  Hope you are doing well wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.  

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

One Last Gasp of Summer, Herbally Speaking!

Can't stay away for too long!  Had too much going on not to talk about it, herbally speaking!  Had an herbal brain freeze over what jellies to make this year.  So I pulled out one of my many herbal cookbooks and came up with ideas.  This is the last gasp for the cinnamon basil.  So one more time to make cinnamon basil jelly this year.  And BTW the photo in the recipe for scented basil jelly is mine.  Just tooting my herbal horn!  Will make this short and will clean up the size of photos at a later date.  Not every day blogging just when I think you will benefit from a post.  Lots of rain in a short amount of time!  We are going to have some sun this week.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you are!  Talk to you later!
Cinnamon Basil on the Chopping Block!

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Break Is In Order!

Thought posting once a week would work.  Now that is even not appealing.  So I am going to take a break of unspecified length.  Don't worry, nothing is wrong just would like to do things without thinking about it as a blog post.  I also am getting back into my needlework and would just like to work on it.  No, not going to start a Needlework blog.  At this writing I have almost 100 jars of raspberry jam made and not much else done in the herb garden.  Soo I hope to get back to writing some day.  I will talk to you later.  Take care.