Saturday, January 14, 2017

Texas Tarragon Will Work in Florida!

Texas Tarragon Even Works Inside!
Can't seem to stay away for long!  Since I answered Linda one of my readers from Florida who asked a question about savory, the 2015 Herb of the Year.  I have decided to answer FlowerLady Lorraine's question with a post of its own.

Her question was did I think she could grow Mexican or Texas tarragon in Florida.  I did give her a positive response, but I thought I would give the Florida herb gardeners a bit more information.  From the University of Florida extension here is a publication called Herbs in the Florida Garden.  It gives a good overall view of herbs that fare well in the Florida heat and humidity and says that tarragon struggles.  So here is Texas or Mexican tarragon (Tagetes lucida), a link from Bonnie Plants that gives some good information on the growing aspects of this licorice flavored herb.  Also it has a flower similar to the flowers of a 'Lemon Gem' marigold.  And I will add that for us Pennsylvania herb gardeners, it definitely is an annual, but it survives through the heat and humidity.

I asked The Herbal Husband when I was going away in November to cut it back and bring the branches in so they could dry inside.  But bless his heart, he dug up the entire plant and brought it in.  I have tried to minimize his plant work inside, but he just falls in love, herbally speaking, for all of the herbs we grow especially the annuals and wants them to get through the winter with us.

It really isn't winter in the 'Burgh at the moment.  We are supposed to be in the 50's all week!  What?  I still like winter and as I have mentioned it is good for the plants to have that break in the season.  I am afraid we may lose a few more plants than normal.  I am reminded that it is National Hot Tea Month.  So with that in mind, I may work on a few herbal tea blends for the next post.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you soon.    

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Nice Lunch on a Cold Icy Day in the 'Burgh!

My Favorite Yinzer Tea, Black and Gold!
Roast Cauliflower, Mozzarella and Arugula Sandwich with Spicy Lentil Chili!
A Huge and Delicious Cranberry Scone!
Well, The Herbal Husband and I finally got down to have lunch at Tupelo Honey Teas Cafe in Millvale, PA.  Danielle the owner has been peddling her teas in a loft in an industrial park for several years and late last year opened a cafe in Millvale.  I love Danielle's spirit and passion for teas.  Her shop is cozy, homey and all about tea.  I forgot to take some interior shots, but next time.  Was enjoying the food and that scone!  And sadly we took home two more, lemon poppyseed ones and they were gone with our evening tea!  This wheat free thing isn't going too well.  I must say that the food is vegetarian/vegan and delicious.  The chili was a bit too spicy, but to the rescue was my favorite tea blend which has ginger in it and it calmed my stomach right down.  Next time they have a spicy soup, I will try one of their salads.  I also want to say that her shop is connected literally to the Millvale Community Library.  She and the library have planned lots of fun events on the first Saturday of each month for adults at nominal fees and with treats by Tupelo Honey Teas through May, 2017. 

I am looking forward to January 22nd when Tupelo Honey Teas and British Emporium & Tearoom will host The Art of Afternoon Tea with a traditional afternoon tea of sandwiches, scones and desserts.  They are having two seatings, 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM and if you are in the Pittsburgh area, think about attending. There are openings in the 4:00 PM hour or there were.  It is $27 and you must reserve a seat and pay in advance.  Hopefully the weather will be bright, sunny and snow and ice free!

As you can see by the banner page, as of this morning the snow has melted.  We are going to be in the 50's today and 60 tomorrow!  Oh the bulbs will be confused!  By Friday we will be back in the 30's again.  Off to see Hidden Figures today at the movies and have a Panera lunch!  Hope you are having a great day!  Talk to you later!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Celebrating the Herb of the Year but Which One?

This blog is all about answering your questions about herbs.  I think I am behind in that goal.  So I am going to do my best to catch up.  Linda, a reader from Florida has asked about growing and using savory, the 2015 Herb of the Year!  Linda, you are in luck!  My little red notebook is still filled with my reading about savory!
My French Bowl Filled with the 2015 Herb of the Year Savory!
I haven't finished posting everything I wanted to about this wonderful peppery herb.  I did 12 posts about savory, the most about any of the herbs of the year.  So let me give you some links to those posts and hopefully I will continue to add to those postings this year.

Twenty Days In And Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year, Savory, All of Them!
Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year, Savory--Part Two!
Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year-The 411 on Summer Savory and Winter Savory, Part Three!
Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year-Savories, A North American Native Savory--Part Four!
Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year-Savories-Part Five!
My 1,500 Post and A New Jelly Recipe Using the 2015 Herb of the Year!
An Extra Post
Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year-Savories-Part Six!
Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year-Savories-Part Seven!
Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year-Savories-Part Eight!
Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year-Savories-Part Nine!
Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year-Savories-Part Ten!
Celebrating the 2015 Herb of the Year-Savories-Part Eleven!

Linda, I hope I have given you some reading material and I will try and get some more posts written in the coming days about the new 2017 Herb of the Year, Cilantro/Coriander and drain my red notebook of my reading about savory, the 2015 Herb of the Year.

As you can see we are covered in snow at the moment, but that will end by the end of the week as we are supposed to get to 60!  What!  Got to go eat lunch!  Remember your herbal questions are very important to me.  Talk to you again soon!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Getting an Early Jump on 2017--Herbally Speaking!

The Rue is Doing Nicely Next to the Lemon Verbena!
The Santolinas Are Also Doing Well!
Always Love to See Salad Burnet in the Winter Garden!
A Bit Too Late to Trim the Germander!
I Am Hoping We Will Have More of These This Winter!
My First Selfie of the Year!
Well, here I am doing what I said I wasn't going to do, post!  We don't get many sunny days in the winter here in the 'Burgh.  I had to take exception and show you what is going on in the herb garden.  I love the textures and color differences in the herb garden even in winter.  So many herbs stay green or gray throughout the winter which is always a plus when it is snowy and cold.  Some have taste like thyme and sage.  The salad burnet while looking pretty loses its flavor.  By the time I think to trim the germander to make it more hedge like, it has flowered and attracting bees and you know the rest.  The santolinas on the wall got moved from the bed in the back.  They are just small balls at the moment.  Hoping this season, they will get a bit larger.  I am going to talk about what we are trying with the white container and the lemon verbena maybe next time I am here. 

I actually took a walk yesterday to try and lose the pounds that I put on with that rediscovered food group at the holidays, COOKIES!   It was a glorious blue sky day here!  So I will be around periodically.  Always here if you have questions.  We are back to gray skies and rain here.  Cold is coming by mid-week.  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you soon!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016, An Herbal Year in Review!

January--Very Cold and Snowy!
February--My Favorite Selfie of the Year!
March--Wildlife of All Kinds Are Welcomed!
April--One of My Favorites in the Spring-Forget Me Not!

May--One of the Highlights of My Trip to England-Sitting in Jekka's Garden at Chelsea!
June--Means Roses Blooming in the Garden!
August--A Volunteer Sunflower in the Herb Garden!
September--The Butterfly Bush is Blooming and Butterflies Abound!
September--Couldn't Pass Up Giving You This Sunflower in Bloom!
October--My Favorite, Lemon Verbena Was Huge in the Herb Garden and in Bloom!

November--Celebrated 29 Adventurous Years with The Herbal Husband!
December--Potpourri Wreaths Finished with Wired Ribbon!
December--Spice Wreaths Finished with Gold Ribbon!
Wow, looking back on the year 2016 wasn't as bad as I thought it might be!  I just needed to take a few more photos in the winter months!  I would say that our winter last year killed a lot of the pests that would have been problems during this growing season.  

Our spring was beautiful, but I think I need to plant more bulbs!  As it has happened in previous seasons, May was very hot, very early and I came back from England to a garden that was already passed bloom in a lot of cases.  I will be posting about my May travel to England in the coming months.

Summer here was very hot with some rain, but not enough because I lost some herbs, both from weather and rodent damage.  BTW, just for the record I made 112 jars of raspberry jam which are just about gone and another 80 plus jars of herbal jelly.  Just staring at that 19 pouches of Certo made me find new herbal flavors to try!

We had a beautiful fall as usual and I got a lot accomplished in my basement work space for Christmas giving, herbally speaking.  I found a whole box of dried material and depending on scent, I will be using it as filler for potpourri in the worst case and for scented potpourri in the best case.  So I am going to stitch in the next months, but I will try to work in some days where I will post what I am doing inside, tea blends, potpourris, reading about the 2017 Herb of the Year, Cilantro, the love or hate it herb!  You get the idea!  

I just want to take a moment to thank each of you who has hung in there with me and read each and every post that I have written over the past year.  Your sweet and questioning comments are what has kept me going.  Every time I think I have had enough, you keep encouraging me to go on.  So I wish you all a safe and peaceful new year and Lemon Verbena Lady will be posting in 2017!  Talk to you soon! 

Friday, December 30, 2016

2016, A Cross-Stitch Year in Review!

January--2016 Finish His Citizenship Sampler!
February--Had to Stitch a Valentine for The Herbal Husband!
February--A Day Short of His Anniversary It was Done!
March--Really Love Doing Smalls--A Needle Case Kit Finished from My Herbal Sister, Debs!
July--Another Intense Small with Fabric from StitchyBox!
August--An Anniversary Gift to My Bestie, Marilyn!

August--A Favorite Birthday Gift from The Herbal Husband!
October--A Birthday Surprise for Bonnie, My Herbal Traveling Companion!
November--The Gardener--Another Small from Blackbird Designs for Me!
A Gift Made Long Ago for My Mother!

December--Fairy Garden--Another Small from Blackbird Designs for Me!

A Surprise in the Winter 2017 Trends & Traditions Magazine from Colonial Williamsburg!
My Letter and Cross-Stitch Design of the Historic Area was in the Letters to the Editor!
So I never thought I would have enough done in my passion for cross-stitch to do a year in review.  I had really taken a break from my cross-stitch.  In the winter when I could take the time to stitch, I would get cuts and pain in my hands.  I had more band-aids covering my fingers than needles filled with thread.  I had a list of cross-stitch projects to finish and start in order of priority.  The Herbal Husband's Citizenship Sampler was top of the list.  He had given up hope that I would finish it.  He wouldn't let me start any other project.  I would try to start something and he would say, you aren't going to finish my sampler, are you?  Well, the top photo is what I had completed January 2 and the next photo is the day before his 24th anniversary finished and on the wall.  It meant everything to have it done!  So the design was done by our friend, John but The Herbal Husband and I made radical changes to the design or I might still be stitching it today!  We both love it which is what is most important!

Of course, the rest of the year I did nothing that was on my original list and I did a couple of special gifts for my friends.  I also have discovered that smalls are fun and fast even when they are all on 32 count fabric.  My magnifying light to the rescue!  It has become my new favorite to stitch on.  Facebook has hooked me up with some fabulous new designers!  A blessing but it has added exponentially to my stash box!

The gift to my mother was designed in a cross-stitch pattern by The Herbal Husband and stitched by me as a surprise.  She thought it was a nightgown.  It was one of the best surprises ever!  I am hoping that The Herbal Husband will find some time this winter to pattern our house so I can stitch it.  The last couple of photos were a surprise for me.  In the Fall 2016 Trends & Traditions magazine from Colonial Williamsburg, they highlighted a stitcher who has a collection of 50 plus designs from Williamsburg.  So I wrote a letter and shared my favorite design with the editor.  Never heard another thing until I opened up the latest magazine and was surprised to find my letter and design in the Letters to the Editor.  They were listening!  So I am going to take time to stitch and take an inventory!

I will share with you tomorrow the herbal review of 2016 and moving forward into 2017!  We had a green Christmas this year, but there were no travel headaches.  We have snow on the ground again.  So the banner photo is not too far off!  Hope you had a fabulous holiday!  The end of the year is near!  Can't believe it!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Potpourri and Spice Mini Wreaths Recipes and Photos!

Really You Have What It Takes To Do These Wreaths!
Bought This Lavender Potpourri for Less than $3 at T.J.Maxx!

I Have Been Using This Glue Forever!
Don't Forget A Spatula or Something to Get The Wreaths Out!

Just Hit the Heck Out of the Cinnamon Sticks and Nutmeg!
One Bag of Potpourri Makes Three Wreaths in Two Recipes and Two Recipes of Spices Makes Four Wreaths!

This Wreath is Ready to Jump Out of the Mold, But Don't Forget to Release the Middle Part!
So Just Like Goldilocks, We Have a Big, Medium and Small Choice!

The Spice Wreaths Are Still Pretty Wet!
So if you remember back to Wednesday's post, I showed you my very favorite Christmas book by Marge Clark.
In case you missed here it is again.  I am in the habit this time of year of trying to come up with something new and different that has an herbal theme and Marge (RIP) Clark has never disappointed me whether in recipes for cooking or crafting.  I wrote about it for Herb Companion now Mother Earth Living five years ago!  Here is the link again.  It is called My Favorite Christmas Thyme Book and Spice Wreaths: Part 2 

Just check out the link to make sure I didn't forget to tell you something important!  So here is what I did.

1.  I used the $2.99 bags of potpourri that I found in T.J. Maxx that had been laying around.  The prettier the potpourri the better.

2.  Marge talks about using a donut cutter which I didn't have, but I thought my mom's jello molds that she used in her bridge club days would do.  I think they work perfectly!  Again she talked about 2-1/2" to 3" for the molds and mine were 3-1/2".

3.  I lined my surface with wax paper.  It seemed to work best for me.

4.  THIS STEP IS MANDATORY FOR BOTH KINDS OF WREATHS:  You must use a cooking spray or butter or margarine to oil the molds.  That will ensure once the wreath is done and after six hours or an overnight of drying, you can unmold it easily.

5.  Then take a cottage cheese carton (I use two 24 oz. cartons, one for each kind.)  Mix a tablespoon of water and white glue together.  As you can see I use Elmer's.  You can use whatever kind of glue you like.  The white glue does dry clear in the end so don't worry if it is white when you unmold them.

6.  Add a cup of potpourri or spices (I will give you my mixture of spices that I used later.) to the glue/water mix and mix with a plastic iced tea spoon.  I like that because it gets down into the mixture and mixes it up and it is easy to clean.

7.  Then pack your molds with the potpourri or spice mixture pressing down as you go around the mold and if there is glue left in the bottom of the carton, pour it around the top of the mixture in the mold.

8.  Let them stand for six hours at a minimum and preferably overnight.

9.  Next day, take a butter knife or baby spatula and carefully go around both inside and outside of the mold to release it and turn it out on the wax paper to dry for a couple more days, turning them every so often and then use essential oil for the potpourri wreaths because the glue will take away some of its scent.  The potpourri ones I made have lavender and rose.  So I will either use lavender or rose scent to enhance them.  And of course ribbon.  I will show you the finished products as soon as they are dry!

FOR THE SPICE MIXTURE:  I used 1/4 cup each of whole cloves and allspice and 3 cinnamon sticks and 3 nutmegs put in a freezer bag and hit with a hammer until they are smashed to your satisfaction, along with an additional teaspoon of cinnamon.  It gives you about one cup of spices that you mix with the glue/water mix that goes into two molds or more if you use a smaller mold.

So I will show you the finished products when done later this week.  I have wired ribbon that I use on the potpourri wreaths and I usually use a gold ribbon for the spice ones.  So Christmas is a week away!  Just ridiculous how time is flying by!  Our weather went from the teens yesterday morning or maybe it was the 20's and an ice storm (about 1/4" on my car) to 60 degrees last night at 11 PM!  And today we are going back into the deep freeze briefly.  After completely melting away, the ice is a thin coat on my car!  That's winter in the 'Burgh!  Hope you are having a fun time whatever you are doing.  Talk to you tomorrow!  

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A Sunny Snowy Herb Garden and Why Snow is Important!

A Beautiful Day in the Herb Garden!
As I have mentioned lots of times the 'Burgh is a pretty gray place in the winter.  This is the second really blue sky day we have had since cold temperatures have set in.  I really love snow in the winter for the insulation factor it gives the herb garden.  For when we have cold winds which will come maybe as soon as tomorrow, the snow covers the plants and protects them from those winds.

We have put an additional special covering on the lemon verbena that is in the ground this year.  I hope that it insulates the plant enough that it will come back in the spring.  We shall see!  Going to be working on some decorative wreaths with old potpourri and spices.  The recipes if you can't wait are on the right hand side at the top of the column.  I just love Marge Clark and her Christmas book is one of my favorites.

Lots of Great Menus for Various Holiday Meals and Crafts!
So hope you are having a great day.  Stay warm if you are going to be in the northern half of the U.S. starting tomorrow!  It is going to be nippy the next few days!  Talk to you tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

And The Winner Is. . .!

The Old Cheese Making Basket Works Its Magic!
The winner has come forward and claimed her box!  Drum roll please!  The winner of the herbal mystery box for this year is:

                                                      PEGGY (RICCIO)

I added Peggy's last name because I had another PeggyR in the hunt.  Hope you are watching and listening for this announcement.  Please e-mail me as soon as you can with your name and address and I will try to contact you through your blog!  Congratulations!  I also want to say thank you to all who took a chance on my little giveaway.  Your kind remarks are what keep me going and learning about herbs for you and with you!

Has been snowing since late morning here.  So we have snow cover again and the deep freeze is about to hit.  Hope you have had a wonderful day.  I will talk to you tomorrow.