Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

The Herbal Husband and I wish you a very peaceful and healthy 2009. Thank you for reading this blog and hopefully, you will continue to find interesting, educational and funny posts.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

One of My Favorite Herbal Catalogs!

This is one of my favorite times of year when the catalogs start rolling in! Today it is one of my favorite herbal catalogs, Richters. If you live in the US, don't be put off by not being able to bring plants back! You can do it, but you must tell the cashier that you are from the US and going back with plants and they will give you a special receipt that is presented at the border. Mr. Conrad Richter wrote me personally to tell me that as long as I go through the Peace Bridge border crossing, I wouldn't have a problem. I haven't been there YET, but I plan to get there in the near future. Now that gas prices have plunged here, it may be sooner than later!

I admit it, I'm an herbal catalog geek! I dread the time that will be no paper catalogs! For some herb farms, that has already happened. For now, I'll get a cup of tea and enjoy reading about all the new selections Richters has in 2009!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Pomander Bowl Update

Yesterday was a week since I finished the orange pomanders and they have a way to go! I switched the container to a big plastic bowl. I think things will go better! They are more buried than before. All good things take time.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Let Us Eat Cake!

I know I'm paraphrasing Marie Antoinette when I wrote the title of this post. I'm glad we could eat cake this Christmas! Pittsburgh has so many sweet places and Jean-Marc Chatellier's French Bakery is one of the best! Dessert is usually something that I enjoy making like apple or pecan pie. This year it is chocolate mousse cake from Jean-Marc's! It was yummy!

P.S. Go see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It is so well done! Cate Blanchett, the best and I don't have to say much about Brad Pitt! I'll just say he's very easy on the eyes old or young!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Indoor Plants are Outside and It's A Wacky December !

Global warming is here in the 'Burgh today. It's going to be almost 70 degrees! Sooo the Herbal Husband took some of our plants outside to get a sunbath!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Let The Herbal Shopping Begin!

I'm not an early riser. So I wasn't one of those bargain hunters at the malls this morning! My mother taught me from an early age that shopping from a catalog is a good thing. Now I have two choices, internet or catalogs for shopping. I am going to share with you some of my favorite seed catalogs and websites.

Johnny's Seeds in Maine has a great catalog and website with not only great seeds, but great planting and growing information. We try to keep a catalog by the back door so we can refer to it during the growing season. I like Select Seeds catalog a lot owned by Marilyn Barlow. They have old fashioned flowers, both edible and non-edible and lots of other interesting items. Renee's Garden Seeds owned by Renee Shepherd who used to own Shepherd Seeds is another treasure. She does have retail outlets who carry her seeds, but she is a mainly internet operation. The catalogs shown in the picture are the Totally Tomatoes catalog, the Vermont Bean Seed Company catalog, Jung Seeds & Plants catalog and R. H. Shumway's Illustrated Garden Guide. The Herbal Husband liked the pictures in all of them. "They don't look like what we grow!" Some times he is right about that. It is always fun to look! Hope you enjoy some of my favorites!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Pittsburgh Creche and Manger Herbs

The Pittsburgh Creche was first installed in 1999 through the efforts of the Christian Leaders Fellowship, and it was reinstalled in 2007 through gifts from labor unions, businesses, the religious community and other community leaders. It is the world's only authorized replica of the creche erected in front of Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome. It is a very inspirational work of art.

Some of these herbs were used in the manger bed. Bedstraw grows as a ground cover in the early spring. The legend is the flowers of the bedstraw were turned to gold from white when it was used in the manger for the Christ Child. Thyme was used in the bed for Mary to rest. Pennyroyal is said to blossom at midnight when the Christ Child was born. Rosemary flowers turned from white to blue as Mary layed her robe on the bush during her journey to Bethlehem. Juniper is a very herbal tree and protected Mary and the Holy Family in their flight from Herod. It is used particularly to decorate creches and shrines in Italy. Balsam was sought as the first Christmas tree because it was as high as hope, as wide as love and that bore the sign of the cross on every bough. It was the definitive symbol of Christmas.

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, Where Art Thou, Christmas Tree?

OK, 19 years ago when the herbal husband and I moved into this house, we haven't had a Christmas tree. The last tree we had in our apartment, it caused the herbal husband to get a cold. We went to a tree farm in below zero weather. He doesn't forget those times! We moved into this house and we were filled to the rafters! When we had our holiday party the first year, party goers said the only place we could have a tree was in the bathtub! It was a really easy decision. Although I have a lot of Christmas ornaments that will have to be sorted out. We decorate very simply these days. A wreath on the front door.

A little decoration in our dining room. The clementines on our dining table. See I did get one more clementine, a little holly and santolina! The herbal husband thought those were the oranges. He said, "Where is that other orange?" "Well, dear, those are clementines not oranges!" No comment on the loss of his beloved fruit.

So here is a photo of a Christmas tree from the herbal archives! I made it when I was drying everything that wasn't nailed down. It is from a Yankee magazine I think, but I need to get up in the attic after the holidays and come up with the directions for you. It's from Adelma. It really came together fairly easily, but you have to have a lot of dried material. This tree was about two feet when it was finished. I have to say it was quite impressive. It is now in everlasting heaven!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Rhodies are Even Cold!

When the rhododendrons are curled up like cigars, you know it's cold! The birds at the feeders wanted extra food today. The herbal husband put hot water in the birdbath and even the sparrows were in taking baths! I don't know how people in the north country stand it. Very hardy souls! I stayed inside with a cup of wild strawberry tea and worked on some special Christmas cards from one of the English cross-stitch magazines.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Smell of Clove and Orange!

Well, here are the spoils of two days work! Not too much! But again, the house does smell heavenly from the cloves and orange fragrance. Little clove mountains! I will move these around each day for a week and we shall see next week how they look. The clementines and cloves are a much simpler process. I would go that direction for last minute decorating. Check out my post on December 18th. Happy Winter Solstice! Stay warm!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My Spice Box!

Look what I found all wrapped up in my spice (cardboard) box in my basement. My spice stash! There are bay leaves (2009 herb of the year), cinnamon sticks, allspice, whole cloves, nutmeg and rosemary. I bought these spices years ago and they are still aromatic! There is a spice business in Pittsburgh known for its different types of casings for sausages. It is called Pittsburgh Spice and it is located in the Strip District of Pittsburgh. The Strip is known for produce, ethnic markets, fish markets, bakeries and restaurants. There is a website now for Pittsburgh Spice and they have over 500 spices listed! Most have to be bought in bulk (or 1 lb. increments), but the prices are very reasonable. They do have smaller quantities, but not for all items. They also have an 800 number. So we will be busy in the coming months thinking of ways to use these spices so I can buy new next year. I will have a further update on the pomander post tomorrow. The house smells wonderful!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Seed Catalog and the Movies!

Took a break today and went to the movies with the Herbal Husband to see Seven Pounds with Will Smith and Rosario Dawson. It was intense, but very good! Also got the latest catalog from Nichols Garden Nursery in Oregon. They are celebrating 60 years of business and are taking a favorite seed from each decade and promoting them in this catalog. I'll be adding to the herbal gifts tomorrow.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Herbal Christmas Decorations--Pomanders (UPDATED)

Nothing is cheap these days. I was hopeful that this craft would be something that would be inexpensive to make for the holidays. I still think it might be. These dusty things are actually dried oranges studded with cloves called pomanders. I made them many years ago (more than ten years) and actually they still have some scent to them. I just happen to be reading the December issue of Good Housekeeping magazine yesterday while getting a haircut and came across an article using clementines and cloves. The decorated clementines as shown in the magazine may last for a little while. I still think they make a very natural decoration if you like that look at the holidays. Click on the Good Housekeeping link above and it will take you to the page. I think it is a beautiful presentation. I just did one so you can see. A box of clementines is $6.99 at our grocery store. The Herbal Husband said, "How many of my clementines are you going to use?" "Only the moment.!"

The word pomander comes from the French pomme for apple. It refers to the round shape of the early scented balls, and amber from the fixative, ambergris. Pomme d'ambre became pomander. They were traditionally medicinal and worn to counteract odors. I found Valencia oranges which have a thinner skin than navel oranges were easier to decorate with cloves. The clementines would be equally as good as the Valencia oranges. If you are doing this with children, using an apple may be easier for them to learn at first.

I did have to buy navel oranges which have a thicker skin (which may take longer to dry) and I will use an awl to poke holes in the orange to add the cloves. Everything Adelma tells you not to do! I use masking tape to tape the middle stripe off and then take my awl and put the cloves in. Once all of the cloves are inserted, I remove the masking tape. I have a plastic bag full of spices which hopefully still has the right amount of scent. Adelma talks about using 2 teaspoons of ground cloves, 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and 2 teaspoons of powdered orris root for each pomander. Orris root is a fixative that holds the scent for a longer period of time. If you have allergies, you may not want to use orris root. You might try using pieces of corncob or cellulose fiber along with clove or cinnamon essential oil instead of the orris root. I would place that mixture (corncob and essential oil) in a glass jar. Shake it until the pieces have absorbed the oil and no longer stick to the sides of the jar. I would combine the spice mixture with the essential oil mixture. You want to place the finished pomanders in a bowl or container (I use a glazed bowl or dish.) open to the air and roll them in the powdered spices for about a week. Change their positions each day. For 6 to 8 apples or oranges you will need:

1/2 pound whole long-stemmed cloves
1 cup (about) ground spices, including:
1/4 cup ground cinnamon
1/4 cup ground cloves
1/4 cup ground nutmeg and allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup powdered orris root (or 1/4 cup of corncob and 5 to 10 drops clove or cinnamon essential oil mixture)

Next week is Christmas so they may not be finished, but your house will smell wonderful at the very least. While they are drying, you do not want to store them in a closed container. They need to be in that open bowl. I use gold ribbon to add additional decoration. I will add a picture or two to this post to show you the finished product. Adelma says you can refresh your pomanders by washing them in warm water, rolling them in a fresh spice bath and adding a drop or two of clove or cinnamon oil and tying them with fresh ribbons. I think the only issue I would have is that after washing them, be sure they are dry before putting them in the new spices.

The finished pomanders can be given to guests on New Year's Day as a good luck wish. They can be used as a moth chaser also.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Our Holiday Greetings for Everyone!

I got a little sidetracked today by getting our Christmas cards written and sent. Sooo we are sending our greetings to all of you for a festive season! This card is a Pierre Joseph Redoute drawing of Amaryllis bresiliensis from Choix des plus belles fleurs. It is courtesy of Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. So if you are in the Pittsburgh area, you should visit their galleries in the Hunt Library on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University. Their current exhibit ends this Friday, December 19th and then there will be a break until the new year. Hope you enjoy the season with family and friends!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Herbal Gifts for the Holidays, Part 2!

Yesterday I gave you a tiny selection of herbal books for the herb lover in your life. Today I thought I would give you ideas for gadgets, spice blends, cookbooks and calendars that you may not have thought about in this busy season.

The Herb mill chops up both dry and fresh herbs and you don't have to be right-handed to use it! The Herb Keeper keeps three bunches of different herbs fresh and even keeps asparagus fresh. The mortar and pestle grinds all of those spices and there is also those small coffee grinders that work for spices also. I like hand powered gadgets! The garlic press is a must for anyone trying to mince their garlic cloves. You can also use a small grater like Rachel Ray. The nutmeg grater is a staple at The Rosemary House and on their blog, Rosemary's Sampler. A lot of these gadgets are at your local kitchen stores; but please if you have an herb shop in your area, patronize it!

I enjoy using herb blends. Two of my favorite places to get those blends are The Rosemary House (no surprise there) and The Village Herb Shop. The Village Herb Shop is a great herb shop in Chagrin Falls, OH outside Cleveland owned by Kathleen Gips. Chagrin Falls is a charming village with falls and lots of small businesses and good places to have lunch. Kathleen has great herbal classes (I helped her teach a class on lemon verbena!) and special events for her herb club members. It is a great way to spend a day. The pictures below show The Rosemary House's famous Roastmary, The Mayor's Magic Mustard and Susie's Garden Herbs and Garlic. There are two blends from The Village Herb Shop are for Herb Butter and a herb blend for pasta. They each have recipes and suggestions for uses.

Don't forget herbal cookbooks and calendars. Nancy Reppert's outstanding cookbook, Sweet Remembrances Recipe Collection can be purchased and I'm sure she would be glad to autograph it through The Rosemary House and her own website, Sweet Remembrances Tearoom. The other cookbook, It's About Thyme is by Marge Clark, who tragically died in an automobile accident several years. It is available through Bookfinder or your favorite search engine. Also, Amazon has a lot of herbal gadgets and herb books. The herb calendar is by Maggie Oster and is one of my favorites because it gives you herbal hints with a new topic each month.
Don't forget homemade items like jelly, homemade pasta sauce, apple sauce, herbal cookie mixes, breads, teas, and herbal blends to name a few. Your family and friends will appreciate the time you gave to put your herbal products together. I know mine do! Tomorrow more herbal gifts that you can do yourself! Hope you will join me.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Herbal Gifts for the Holidays!

The Herbal Husband and I went shopping today. What were we thinking! The stores were packed with shoppers and the choices were very picked over. However, we did have success for the husband! Thank goodness! Now I would like to give you some last minute book ideas for that herb gardener in your life.

First, my favorite book is Bertha Reppert's Mrs. Reppert's Twelve Month Herbal. It is a year in the life of Bertha Reppert and her garden, founder of The Rosemary House in Mechanicsburg, PA. As you know by now in reading my blog, I truly love, respect and have learned so much from this talented family. Bertha passed away in 1999, but left a very rich legacy. This book will be a favorite for you as well. Each page is a day in the life of Bertha Reppert, has the weather conditions and a quotation and a recipe, a craft or just the doings of the day. For example, today's entry, December 15 mentioned it was snowing and talks about the herbs of the creche, pennyroyal, bedstraw and thyme. I think The Rosemary House still has copies available. It is a wonderful addition to any library.

My second choice is Adelma Grenier Simmons, Herb Gardening in Five Seasons. Don't forget the fifth season is Christmas. It is a classic herb gardening book written in early 1964. The book begins with "Happy is the herb gardener through all the seasons and the years." I couldn't agree more. It also has lovely line drawings of the herbs in the Dictionary of Fifty Selected Herbs. It can be found on Bookfinder, one of a number of search engines for finding out of print or even in print books.

My next favorite is a fictional series of books featuring China Bayles as a criminal attorney who gave up her professional career to open an herb shop. Maybe a fantasy of mine once upon a time! She gets mixed up in the murders of the town she lives in. I have heard Susan Wittig Albert speak here and her blog is one of my favorites. I think she is up to Number 17 in the series or may be more. You can find both hardbacks and paperbacks of the China Bayles series at Amazon, Bookfinder, maybe Rosemary House or other herb shops across the country.
My last choice is the fictional series of books featuring Theodosia Browning who owns the Indigo Tea Shop in Charleston written by Laura Childs. Theodosia is always stumbling into a murder scene. Ms. Childs adds tea recipes and tips at the end of each book. There are nine books so far in this series. You can find them at Amazon, Bookfinder and maybe tea shops in your area. Thousands of books and really just a very small portion of my favorites. I feel books are to be treasured and the digital age is upon us. I will share more favorites later.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Wildlife in the Backyard and Maybe Santa's Deer!

We have mostly gray squirrels in our yard. Sometimes a red squirrel. Yesterday this appeared on the driveway. I think it's a grey squirrel in disguise! It disappeared as quickly as it came.

Today we looked out and two "rein" deer were lounging around our backyard. Better call Santa and tell him to start rounding them up!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

St. Lucia's Day

The people of Sweden celebrate St. Lucia's Day, who brings sight to the blind, food to the hungry and light in the midst of winter darkness. The Festival of Lights or Little Christmas is the favorite Swedish Advent celebration. She was a real person born in Syracuse in Sicily to wealthy Christians in the third century. While still young she vowed to remain a virgin and dedicated her life and fortune to the Church. Her mother tried to arrange a marriage with a young pagan. When he was refused, he denounced her as a Christian. Miracles preserved her from a brothel and death by burning, but finally she was martyred by a sword thrust through her neck.

St. Lucia is represented carrying a flame or burning lamp, because her name comes from lux meaning light. St. Lucia's Day is a festival of fire and light, with two ceremonies, one at home and one in church. The Lucia Queen or Lucia Bride in the early morning darkness of December 13th is dressed in a long white gown sometimes decorated with stars. She wears a bilberry crown fitted with lighted candles as she goes from room to room to awaken family and guests. She brings them hot coffee and buns made with saffron or flavored with cardamon. Next she visits the barns with coffee and food for the farmhands and extras are given to the animals.

In the church ceremony, Lucia has a similar dress and crown. She enters the church with boys dressed in blue with peaked caps decorated with stars. They carry star-topped staffs, like the boys who make the rounds on Epiphany.

In both ceremonies, Lucia brings light into darkness, fire against winter cold and the promise of sun and new life in spring! Light some candles today and celebrate St. Lucia!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Herbal Tea Time, Part Two!

Here are the elusive teabags that I couldn't find yesterday! The herbal husband actually asked the key question that turned on my herbal lightbulb. I came out of the darkness into the light. Blessings on the herbal husband!

The other day I tested a couple different "blends", the first had everything but the kitchen sink and it was overwhelming. It had eight herbs. It was way too many. Then I tried five herbs and that worked very well. So Lemon Verbena Lady's Lemon Herbal Tea blend is:

1 to 2 parts lemon verbena
1 part lemon grass
1 leaf lemon basil
1/2 leaf mint marigold
1/2 leaf stevia
Being an herbal tea novice, I experimented with using the food processor to chop the dried lemon verbena. Bad idea! The midrib of lemon verbena is like the midrib on a bay leaf, very tough. It doesn't break down easily. So I took about 4 whole leaves of lemon verbena, 2 or 3 pieces of lemon grass, 1 leaf of lemon basil, 1/2 leaf of mint marigold and 1/2 leaf of stevia. You have to play around until you get the right combination for you. This is in an individual teabag recipe. They have bigger ones for teapots that would take more herbs. If the small bag is for one, the larger one is for two or three servings. You need to crush the bag slightly to help the flavor disburse. Pour boiling water over the bag and steep 3 to 5 minutes for the individual bag. I did 4 minutes and it seemed to work perfectly.

I bought the teabags in the picture a long time ago. I checked online at the San Francisco Herb Company site and found all kinds of self sealing tea bags and other products. I think you will find their site helpful. They even have potpourri recipes. In the picture below are the teabags, as they were finished. I found the sachet bags in the photo underneath at Well-Sweep Herb Farm in New Jersey. I think they will make ideal gift bags for my herbal tea blends. More tea blend ideas to come!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Herbal Timeout!

I had a senior moment today and couldn't find the teabags I was going to use in today's posting! I decided I needed to take some time and get more organized at my worktable. Therefore, I'm going to put the Out Weeding sign up briefly! I will be back tomorrow with a new post. Thanks for understanding.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Herbal Tea Time!

Some people would say, "How can you work in this space!!" Actually I'm thinking that myself, but I forged ahead and using the book shown here, I came up with Lemon Verbena Lady's Lemon Herbal Tea. The title is too long. I will have to think of something shorter. The first version had too many herbs in it. It was good, but it was too strong. I narrowed it down to about four herbs with, of course, lemon verbena as the base. Tomorrow I will share the recipe with you.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Smell is Intoxicating/The Herbal Jungle!

Today was move day for the herbs that have been hanging out in the garage. So now its an herbal jungle in our basement! The herbal husband kept saying, "The smell is intoxicating!" In this tiny space are four scented geraniums, two lavenders, an allspice tree, a bay rum tree and a bay laurel and a kafir lime and the night-blooming jasmine! The herbal husband was a planner in his former life. We had a really good growing season this year so plants are larger coming into the house. We had one casualty already. The grey fringed lavender that was brought inside has not made it. It happens! Our other inside lavenders are doing just fine. We were also cleaning up the tomato patch outside and found these radishes. The one on the left doesn't look so good, but it probably tastes fine. Will be working on herbal gifts starting tomorrow.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Green Pepper Basil Update!

Today we cut off the flowerheads of this green pepper basil so the plant will continue to thrive. The flower heads smell just like a green pepper. It is so interesting! I have made some herbal vinegar with the green pepper basil and will be making salad dressing with it later this winter. I just love the unusual herbs!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Angels from Nature

This is from my herbal archive. Several years ago, I went on a wonderful bus trip with the Repperts from The Rosemary House to a wonderful herb farm called Buffalo Springs Herb Farm in Virginia. Sadly, the Virginia farm is closed. This is the result of the craft project that we did there. The instructions call it Angels from Nature and Garden as featured on Home and Garden TV's Willard Scott's Almanac and the Angel Tree at the Governor's Mansion, Richmond, VA 1996. I tried to Google both HGTV's website and the Governor's Mansion in Richmond, but came up empty. I think that Don Hayne, one of the talented owners, decorated the Governor's tree either in 1995 or 1996 with the angels. This one that I made has lasted 12 years and has been protected in a paper bag all of those years.

Here is the outline of steps:

Step 1 - Head & Body Stem: Choose one of the following: medium size poppy pod with a 4" stem or acorn or hickory nut drilled and wood twig inserted. (I used a poppy pod.)

Step 2 - Arms: Choose approximately a 3" twig, cinnamon stick or reed stem and bind onto main body stem near the head using 22 gauge wire or strong thread. Or glue on oblong shaped pods. Make a loop of wire at back to use as a hanger, if desired. (I used a cinnamon stick.)

Step 3 - Body: Gather a small bunch of dried materials together to form a body. Fan out material and bind bundle, with 22 gauge wire at top and then attached to main stem at neck area. Suggested plant materials: silver king artemisia, plume celosia, dried plumes of decorative grasses, wheat, oats, rosemary, sage or blue salvia. (I have used a combination of blue salvia and silver king artemisia.)

Step 4 - Upper Body: Using a glue gun or fast drying glue, fill in area from waist up to head. Small bits of dried flowers and leaves work well for this to form a collar and shoulders. Use tweezers if desired. (I used celosia and statice.)

Step 5 - Wings: Using two matching dried leaves, glue wings on to back of neck or shoulder, either flat on each side or at an angle. Secure with glue. Suggested plant material: dried bay leaves, dried salah leaves or pressed galax leaves. (I used four bay leaves.)

Step 6 - Personality: Glue small pieces of dried flowers, acorn tops or Spanish moss to top of head. Paint a face if desired, using acrylic paints and add small bits of interesting plant material wherever necessary to give your angel personality. (I used more statice at the top of the poppy pod and didn't paint a face.)

This is nice as a tree ornament, wreath ornament or atop packages instead of a traditional bow. This is the only one I ever made. It takes a lot of material to make several. I did make wreathes and bouquets for a time. I don't any longer. I thought though if you have dried material that you don't know what to do with it, this may be a solution for you. Hopefully these pictures will give you assistance.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

St. Nicholas and Secret Santa at the MG Holiday Gala!

St. Nicholas was a rich and famous Bishop in the early days of the Christian church and became one of the most beloved saints ever. He is the patron saint of children, especially school boys, of poor maidens, of sailors, of travelers and merchants, as a protector against thieves and robbers, his name was constantly used in prayers of Christian people. Nicholas was born in Asia Minor. He was dedicated at an early age to the church. After his ordination as a priest, his parents died of the plague leaving him with a vast fortune which he used for charitable works. He was remembered as a giver of gifts at Christmas time.

He is especially revered in Holland. On December 5th, St. Nicholas Eve or December 6th, St. Nicholas Day, children placed wooden shoes on the doorsteps in the hope that the good Bishop would reward them with the traditional gifts of chocolate, other sweets or even a gold piece. Even though we have turned this dignified Bishop into a fat and jolly good Saint Nick, his memory is still preserved. The giving of gifts and the love of children are the importance of the season. This information is from Christmas at Caprilands: Legends and Recipes by Adelma Simmons.

My Secret Santa at the Master Gardener Holiday Gala did a really good job. He or She knew that I like tea/cocoa pots and mugs and hot chocolate on a cold winter's day. When I showed the herbal husband last night, he looked at the Candy Cane Cocoa container and said "It's like Rubik's Cube!" My eyes glazed over! Why does everything have to be about math? That's is one of the key reasons why I married him though! When I learned he taught Statistics in college that closed the deal! See all three parts spin to create new Santas! It is very clever. I'll let you know how the cocoa is later! Stay warm! P.S. The hot chocolate is yummy!