Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New Year!

Hope you all have a wonderful and peaceful New Year's Eve and Day!  Hasn't been my most prolific year of blogging, but I hope you have learned something new in 2013.  If you have any suggestions for 2014, please let me know what you would like me to talk about.  I think right off the top in January it will be a mix of ending vacation trips that didn't get finished and talking about and making different herbal teas and maybe herbs of the Bible.  I think that will keep me busy and you as well.

It is really cold here more like Canada cold.  Stay warm.  Hope you have a favorite tea in your tea cup or mug.  I'll talk to you in the new year, 2014!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Decorated Rosemary Tree with Peruvian Christmas Cloth!
Well, I'm going to take a few days away from blogging.  We're going to have dinner with friends tomorrow and Christmas dinner on our own on Wednesday.  Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and I'll be blogging again later in the week or next week.  It is colder here, but no snow.  Talk to you later.
A Touch of Gray and Green in the Herb Garden!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Oh, The Weather Outside Is . . .

Always Like to Take a Look Around After It Has Been Cold and Snowy!
A Lot of Brown for the Wildlife!
A View From the Bench Into the Herb Garden!

pretty soggy, but warm instead of cold and snowy.  As you can see in the photos above, our snow is gone.  The stuff covering the fig on the hillside behind the herb garden is shredded paper!  Now that it's wet, it hopefully won't get around the neighborhood if the wind picks up!  I always try to get outside and check on the herbs and other plants when it gets warm and make sure the plants haven't heaved up.

As you can see by the banner photo, I got some decorating done!  I think it looks cute.  Hopefully you have had time to decorate and get ready for the big day.  We took a Christmas tour of Hartwood Acres mansion near us yesterday with our friend, Shelley.  It is a beautiful house and decorated for the holidays.  If you are in the Pittsburgh area, you have to get out to see it.
The Christmas Tree in the Great Hall at Hartwood!
Hope you had a great day!  The Winter Solstice is here!  If winter were only this mild!  The real winter comes back on Monday!  Talk to you later.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I Finally Figured It Out, Herbally Speaking!

Today was my last day of jelly making for 2013!  Yippee!  I got three recipes of rosemary garlic jelly made.  I finally figured out how to get the bits of rosemary and garlic suspended throughout the jelly.  You would think that after the hundreds of jars I have made over the years that I would have figured it out before this!

Once the Certo is added and it is boiled for exactly a minute, take it off the heat and start stirring for five additional minutes.  This will take away what little foam there is and it will suspend the bits throughout the jelly!  So I have updated my recipe for you in the link above.

We had a beautiful day here in the 'Burgh.  Very bright sunshine and it's going to get warmer!  Rainy and warm!  Typical December weather!  No white Christmas for us this year!  It will be cold, but no snow.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.  Oh, finally got a wreath on our front door.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Some Last Minute Herbal Gift Ideas!

Past Inspiration for Christmas Decor!
Gosh, the time is zipping by!  Is it because I'm getting older?  More to do with less time?  I don't know.  I do know that if you are looking for the perfect gift for the herbie person in your life.  Here are a couple of links to those posts for some hints:  Herbal Gifts for the Holidays! and Herbal Gifts for the Holidays, Part 2!  I hope that I have given you over the years some good ideas for homemade holiday gifts.  Some of my best ideas are on my page for Mother Earth Living links at the top of my home page.  The December links from 2011 are two of my favorites, using old potpourri and spices to make wreaths.  Well, you are on your own now!  If you need more help, just ask me.  I'm always available for questions.

It is still cold here.  Going to warm up over the weekend.  It will be in the 60's!  What?  So I think we are NOT going to have a white Christmas this year!  Hope you are having a great day!  Talk to you later. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I'm Making A List and Checking It Twice and There is a New Winner!

The Tea Tasting Party Gift Basket!
 Had to wait for The Herbal Husband to feed the birds and change his shoes!  OK, the big moment has arrived.  There were no last minute entries.  We did have 18 entries this year.   So the winner of the gift basket is:

Pamela Christopher

Because the first name we drew hasn't responded.  Pamela, you have won.  Thanks everyone for participating.  Thanks to everyone for reading my blog!                       

The Way We Pick a Winner!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Remembrances of My Childhood and Cinnamon Sugar Recipe!

I grew up eating oatmeal before school on a cold winter day.  We are still in fall here in the 'Burgh, but you wouldn't know it.  I remember having cinnamon sugar on my toast as a treat.  So I thought why not use a bit of cinnamon sugar on my oatmeal.  I found a recipe from for cinnamon sugar.  I also found a bit of information on cinnamon itself from Penzeys which is where I get most of my spices including cinnamon.  I found a page on the health benefits of cinnamon at WebMD.  As with any information online, please consult with your physician if you plan to add cinnamon to your diet.

Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  If you would like to enter to win the gift basket, you need to do it now.  The Herbal Husband will be picking a name tomorrow at 10 AM!  Talk to you then!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

My Love Affair with Chai!

You may have seen this photo before.  It's my cup of chai that I have gotten hooked on over the years.  Chai is the word for tea in many parts of the world.  Yesterday I went up to The Village Herb Shop and made a tea tasting party gift basket for you to win.  I started thinking about how I got enthralled with chai.  It all started when I met The Herbal Husband 30 years ago.  I lived in a small town called Oakmont back then.  There was the movie theater called The Oaks.  In those days it was owned by an Indian couple.  Being from a small town and living in a small town, you don't necessarily think about the whole world.  At least I didn't.  The Herbal Husband because he is Peruvian opened my eyes to the whole world.

So on cold winter nights when we would go to the movies at The Oaks, I discovered chai made by the owner's wife.  I never got her recipe and they sold the movie many years ago.  It was wonderful.  It was spicy, milky and sugary.  Delish!  I had milk in tea in England when I was a young girl so it brought me back to visiting England for me.  Since then I have had lots of chai.  Some great and some not so great.  The K cup chai is not so good!  Besides the chai recipe I got yesterday, I have wanted to try some chai choices from Mother Earth Living.  So in the coming days, I'm going to try some of these chai recipes that I have collected and let you know how they are and share the recipes if they are good.  Recently I have been drinking  The Rosemary House's chai called Rosemary's Chai.  You need to call to order it.  It has a smooth spiciness to it.  It is one of my favorites.  I also love Fortnum & Mason's chai as well.

We have large wet snowflakes coming down.  The snow didn't start as early as they thought, but it did arrive and we have a couple of inches at least on the ground.  So I hope you have a cup of tea or coffee if it is cold where you are.  Hope you are having a great day.  Just took a lemon verbena bread out of the oven.  Less likely to eat it all unlike the cookies!  Lemon verbena cookies are a dangerous food group!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Tea Tasting Party Gift Basket Giveaway! U.S. Readers Only!

Bonnie and I had such a great time today with our herbal friend, Kathleen Gips at The Village Herb Shop in Chagrin Falls, OH.  So here is the basket of goodies that we made today.  There is a Holiday Spiced Chai Tea, A Jingle Bell Green Tea, Cinnamon Sugar and Gingerbread Scone Mix.  There will also be a couple of extra goodies in the box sent to you if you are the winner.  Let's say it will be a surprise!  Trust me you will like the extras!

You must place a comment on this post.  If you comment on any other post about winning this basket, it will not count.  Anonymous comments will not be included unless you give me a valid e-mail address that I can get in touch with you.  Unless I know you from your blog, please give me some kind of contact information so your name will be included.  If you are on Facebook reading this, please give me a comment not just a like.  Because Christmas is a week from this coming Wednesday, I would like this giveaway to end on Tuesday, December 17th, 2013 at 10:00 AM ESTThis is for my U.S. readers only.  Please one entry per person here or Facebook.   Hopefully in the new year I can do a giveaway for all of my readers.  Hope you win.  Good luck!  This giveaway is closed!  The winner has already been picked!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Magazines for Holiday Giving!

Mother Earth Living and Tea Time
Herb Quarterly and The Essential Herbal
I have talked about giving magazines over the years for the holidays.  I think it is a great last minute gift, because some of these choices have a digital copy now.  Mother Earth Living has a particularly great holiday issue out at the moment with DIY projects with herbs.  Tea Time magazine has a lot of great recipes and travel information for tea lovers.  You can pick it up on newsstands or get a digital link with a paid subscription.  I think Herb Quarterly is the only one that doesn't have a digital copy at the moment, but it is the oldest of all herb magazine in the U.S.  The Essential Herbal has both a paper and digital copy and is from a fellow Pennsylvanian.  It is an herb magazine for and by herb lovers.

The days are just flying by now.  It's two weeks until Christmas!  Can't believe it!  Going early up to the Village Herb Shop because of Saturday's forecast.  So I'll be telling you about the giveaway in the coming days.  Please stay tuned.

Very cold here.  Crunches when you walk!  Hope you are staying warm wherever you may be.  Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Guest Blogging for Mother Earth Living!

Bertha Reppert's Herbal Scrapbook #2 Christmas
Two Adelma Simmon's Herbal Books
Some days I can't think of anything to say.  Really!  Other days I've got a lot to say.  Here is my latest post for Mother Earth Living magazine called Christmas in Pittsburgh and Herb Ideas for the Holidays.  So I hope you get a tiny idea of how great it is to live in Pittsburgh especially during the holidays!  I always love the gift of herbal books for holiday giving and there are links in my MEL post to find these books online.  These are two of my favorite herbal authors and two of my favorite Christmas herbal books.  I put the third book because Mrs. Simmons always considered Christmas to be a separate season of the year.  OK, I'm tapped out herbally speaking.  I'll talk to you soon.

Here's a Cookie Recipe for Your Xmas Cookie Exchange!

Lemon Verbena Almond Wafers
I caught myself reading herbal cookbooks a few weeks ago.   I know that sounds strange.  I knew I would have an overabundance of lemon verbena.  So I thought I would write down a bunch of recipes with lemon verbena as the main ingredient.  Since we are in the time of cookie exchanges, I thought I would make this recipe and if it turned out, share it with you.  It is from Today's Herbal Kitchen by The Memphis Herb Society.   I'm all about easy.  So I will give you the directions as they are in the book and then I will supplement it with my version.

Lemon Verbena Almond Wafers
Makes 4 to 5 dozen cookies (It made 65 cookies in my case.)

2 sticks butter, softened  (I used I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.)

1 cup sugar (I used my lemon verbena and vanilla sugar.)
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
2 cups cake flour
1-1/2 T. lemon zest
2 T. chopped dried lemon verbena or
3 T. fresh  (I used 3 T. fresh.)
Sliced almonds for garnish

1.  Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy.  Best in egg. Beat in vanilla.

2.  Gradually mix in flour until blended.  Stir in lemon zest and lemon verbena.

3.  Drop by heaping half teaspoons, 2 inches apart, onto an ungreased baking sheet.  Gently press a few almond slices into center of each cookie.

4.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are golden brown.  Let cool on sheet on a rack for 1 to 2 minutes.   Carefully remove from sheet and place directly on rack to cool completely.

These cookies are very tender.  If cooled too long on baking sheet, they will break when trying to remove them.  If this happens, return cookies to oven for about 1 minute before trying again.

OK, that is the recipe as written, but with my notes in parentheses.  This is what I did.  I took out my food processor and creamed together the lemon verbena leaves (I think if you are using dried, a food processor is the way to go to pulverize the lemon verbena.  That midrib can be an issue in dried lemon verbena.) and the two sticks of butter.  Then I added the sugar and continued to cream.  Then I added the lemon zest, egg and vanilla and the cake flour at the end.  I have a very old original (refurbished) Cuisinart food processor  that still works very well.  So it's not a big bowl and the recipe fit very well and I could spoon it out easily.  It worked great.  The only thing I would say about the almonds at the end is to really get them into the batter before baking.  A lot of mine just were laying on the top of the cookie and got knocked off when I went to move them into a box.  Oh, The Herbal Husband said they were sweet. (Huh, they are a cookie and then proceed to have several.  I lost count.)  So I would say they are a hit in this household!  Hope you enjoy them.

 We had a bit of snow and it was cold with the wind today, but sunny after the snow finished.  Hope you are warm and dry and enjoying the season wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Getting Ready to Decorate!

Sorry I have been too quiet.  Before you know it, it will be Christmas!  As you can see in the picture, we found a rosemary tree at Whole Foods the other day.  We have had them in the past and killed it too!  So we are putting it front and center in the kitchen so we don't forget to water it and give it the love and attention it deserves.  Our niece gave me a beautiful Christmas table runner that The Herbal Husband brought home from Peru.  I made gingerbread ornaments years ago and I'm going to decorate the tree with them.  So our Christmas plans are starting to take shape.  Hope yours are as well.

As you may remember, this is the time of giveaways for my blog.  Going to get The Herbal Husband lined up to arrange and pack items.  Bonnie, my herbal companion, and I are going up to the Village Herb Shop next Saturday for Kathleen's annual Christmas Gift Basket Class next Saturday, December 14.  This year it is a Tea Tasting Gift Basket.  The basket will contain two different teas, a spiced chai black and a jingle bell green along with a cinnamon sugar and a gingerbread scone mix.  This is Kathleen's last Christmas basket class.  She has announced her retirement, but the Village Herb Shop will live on with a new owner!   Bonnie and I have been to many of these classes and have always gone home (It's a two hour drive for us!) in herbal heaven.  So pray for good weather!

Be on the lookout for the official giveaway post to win!  We have light snow at the moment and it's going to get messy later today before it turns to all rain tomorrow!  Could be all snow!  Hope you are having a great day!  Talk to you later.