Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bye, Bye 2009! Happy New Year to You All!

What a last day of 2009!  Woke up to wet, heavy snow.  We felt it in the air yesterday even before it fell.  Really beautiful to see in the garden!  Have had a great year of traveling.  The gardening year was a little strange, but because of you dear readers, The Herbal Husband and I have enjoyed our lives to the fullest!  We are blessed to have you all in our lives and hope that 2010 will be an even better year for us all!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year Goes On!

Well, I only received one additional seed catalog, but it is a good one.  Park Seed has been around since 1868 for heaven sake!  Their operation is out of Greenwood, SC.  I haven't had their catalog for a while, but it's like an old friend.  Looking forward to that cup of tea!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year Continued!

The fun continues!   The mail brought these two favorite catalogs today!  The one on the left is one of my favorite old fashioned flower seed catalogs, Select Seeds.  They are located in Connecticut.  The second catalog is Nichols Garden Nursery.  They are located in Oregon and are celebrating their 60th year!  I have ordered from both of these catalogs with great success.  Please keep your local and these smaller businesses going!  They have lots of unusual choices at reasonable prices.  Wonder what tomorrow's mail will bring?  Stay tuned!

Monday, December 28, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

We are getting lake effect snow at the moment!  So it was good that in the mail today came these two seed catalogs.  Love it!  I have not ordered from either one, but intend to order something this year for next!  Harris Seeds is out of Rochester, New York.  Chock full of vegetable and flower seeds, plants, bulbs and tubers.  Territorial Seed Company is located in Cottage Grove, Oregon.  Doesn't that sound quaint?  Their catalog is full of veggie seeds and plants, flower seeds, herb seeds and plants and something called the Gardener's Tool Shed.  Both have new varieties for 2010!  This is my kind of shopping! 

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Let Me Spend Some of Your Christmas Cash for You!

It didn't get a chance to tell you my favorite herbal purchases ahead of time.  So here they are now that you might have gotten some extra cash for Christmas!  One of my favorite herbal authors is Sharon Lovejoy and she has a new book coming out in a few weeks called Toad Cottage & Shooting Stars.  If you have children in your life, Sharon's early books and this latest one will appeal to the young and old alike.  My favorite books of hers are A Blessing of Toads, her columns for one of my favorite gardening magazines, Country Living Gardener.  Also, Trowel & Error which gives you over 700 shortcuts, tips & remedies for the Gardener.  These are the days when I love to get a cup of tea and curl up with a good book and you will love Sharon's wisdom and illustrations.  She's a gem.  My second choice of herbal authors is Susan Belsinger.  Her latest book is called the creative herbal home co-written with Tina Marie Wilcox chock full of tips and recipes for the herbal home.  Susan has co-authored many books on herbs and the other favorite of mine is Basil An Herb Lover's Guide co-authored with Tom DeBaggio.  It has great information on basil and a lot of delicious and easy recipes.

On to my favorite magazines, The Herb Companion and The Herb Quarterly, they have kept me company for many years and I can read them over and over and always find something new in the herbal world.  So a subscription to either magazine is always a good investment for your Christmas cash.

Finally, my favorite herb and spice company, Penzeys.  We are lucky to have a Penzeys store in Pittsburgh, but the online version is a great way to get recipes and single herbs and spices or combination of herbs and spices in gift boxes.  Hope you had a great holiday and some leftover cash to splurge on a great herbal gift for you!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas from Our House to Yours!

Can't believe we're only two days away!  Hasn't this year flown by?  Hope you have a great holiday and I'll be blogging again soon!  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Decorated All Year Round!

I completely forgot!!  I'm sort of decorated all year round!  I got this snowman when I went to an herbal fair down in southwestern Ohio several years ago.  Sadly there is no more herb fair, but the snowman has survived.  I had every intention of putting it on our front door that year, but he didn't quite make it!  The Herbal Husband took a liking to him and didn't want him to fade with all of the sun we have this time of year!  The white stuff on his cap isn't snow.  It's good old dust!

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Last Bright Day of Fall?

Yesterday was the last day of fall!  There was such a beautiful sky though and remember we are in our gray period now.  So we treasure these beautiful blue sky days and nights!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Minimalist Christmas!

I mentioned that the minimalist Christmas decorating is happening this year!  The one decoration on this grapevine wreath is a cardinal bell.  We love our cardinals!  We have at least five couples who come and dine with us each day.  I love that both the males and females sing!  Hope your decorating is going well.  Talk to you later.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Just in Time for Christmas!

Well, we finally have some real snow.  Our friends up and down and eastern seaboard are getting hammered.  Even though it is technically still the fall season, it is more like winter.  Hope the snow stays for Christmas!  Working on my minimalist decorating this afternoon and listening to Tony Bennett (he is the best) and Andrea Bocelli.  Andrea Bocelli makes me weepy!  When he sings Somos Novios (It's Impossible) with Christina Aguilera.  WOW!  It is just amazing!  Well, got to finish my mini decorating!  Talk to you later.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Guest Blogging for The Herb Companion Magazine!

Can you believe it!  We are nearly at the end of the year.  This is my last post of the year for The Herb Companion magazine.  I have done 17 posts this year and have enjoyed every one of them.  Hope you enjoy this one!  It celebrates the holidays and the 2009 herb of the year, bay laurel.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Herbal Husband's Holiday Decorating!

We went to one of our favorite restaurants the other night, Aladdin's Eatery.  The Herbal Husband loves their dessert and got their baklava sampler to take home.  It had this ribbon around it.  Bingo, instant decorating The Herbal Husband way!  Here is the full holiday effect!  I promise we are doing more holiday decorating!  Really!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Nature's Ornaments (UPDATED)

If you are lucky enough to have a sweet gum tree in your yard or neighborhood, you have nature's ornaments.  They have a perfect little crook in the stem and you can spray them silver, gold or leave them as they are.  Nature is pretty clever I would say!

I was reading old issues of The Herb Companion magazine last night and learned that the American Sweet Gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) is an herbal tree.  It not only produces timber but an aromatic balsam or resin called storax or styrax which is used in medicines, perfumery and in commercial bakery supplies.  It has brilliant fall color and a pleasing shape.  Who knew!  I didn't, but now you do too!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Aromatic Laundry in More Ways Than One!

Never a dull moment in our house especially in the fall/winter when you are trying to do the laundry!  There are strategic moves that have to be made so that I can use both the washer and dryer at the same time!  The kaffir lime that has dangerous spikes was guarding the detergent and dryer sheets!   Whew!  Glad that's over!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Just One More Donation, Please!

Yesterday was a beautiful day to do some Christmas decorating.  Instead I was doing laundry and minding my own business.  Even though the bike pictured above brings many happy memories of the Jersey shore, I thought it was time that someone else enjoy it.  Also I did not take this bike from the beach, it was purchased many years later at a garage sale.  This bike is great on the boardwalk, on hills, not so much!  I was also a little too tall to ride it comfortably!

Since 2004 Kraynick's Bike Shop has had a bike drive at Christmas and recruits local police stations to collect gently used bikes which they clean up and distribute to needy children.  I called the local police station and they said they were not accepting any more bikes this year!  So to make a long story shorter, we called Kraynick's and the owner told Herbal Husband he would only take it if it were really clean and ready to go!  Well, Herbal Husband spent an hour cleaning and shining and away we went.

The bike shop is not in a great neighborhood and Herbal Husband went to see what was happening.  The shop was jammed with bikes!  Herbal Husband described it as packed.  Jerry told Herbal Husband that he would either give it to a child, he would use it for parts or he would sell it to a collector and use the money for the work he does.  So Herbal Husband and I conferred in the car and decided to leave it with Jerry.  When Herbal Husband took it inside Jerry's eyes lit up and he exclaimed, "It's a Breeze!"  He knew right away.  He was pleased with its condition and it could be given immediately!  Herbal Husband was pleased!  We made Jerry and a deserving child happy for Christmas!  Hope you can donate to help this Christmas!  Makes us feel good!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Guest Blogging for The Herb Companion Magazine!

I found these holiday ornaments in my basement workspace the other day.  Thought it would be the perfect guest blog for The Herb Companion magazine.  Here's the link hope you enjoy it!

Friday, December 11, 2009


It may not be global warming, but something is weird with the weather.  One minute it is 50 degrees and sunny and the next we have tornado warnings in a county north of us.  Then we have thunder, lightning and rain and finally a little snow!  Thank goodness not like Erie to the north of us.  I think they have three feet or more!  Could not do that kind of winter.  Hope you are warm wherever you may be.  Going to see "A Christmas Carol" in 3D this afternoon.  I'll let you know how it is.  More holiday decorating tomorrow!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Return of Travel Thursday-Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden!

It is just sooo cold out!  I thought you would like to be where it is nice and toasty!  A friend and I went to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.  It was a beautiful garden.  I had last seen it nine years ago and it has matured nicely and has a wonderful gift shop and cafe.
We got there late in the day so we were whisked around on the tram.  The garden is 83 acres so the tram was a great way to see most of the garden quickly.  Another drive-by experience!  What was really funny was that the iguanas were mating so there were orange (The males turn orange to get noticed!) iguanas running around everywhere!

So if you are in the Miami Beach/Coral Gables area, stop by Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, you will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tree Decorating 101 by the Cats!

As most of you know who read this blog on a regular basis, I am allergic to cats.  Cats seem to follow us everywhere we travel.  This cat was Spanish!  So in this holiday season, I will share with you what our friend in Florida passed along to me.  This is the link.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Christmas Ladybug!

We were in the kitchen fixing dinner the other night and we had some company.  This ladybug joined us on the counter and was really at home racing around the counter.  We had to be careful not to put a bowl or plate on top of it!  I think it is a native species which I learned through the Lost Ladybug Project!  I'm going to send photos in to them and see what they have to say.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Teasel Teddy Bear Ornament!

I know I haven't updated that project from last year.  I'll get to it eventually!  I promise!  It's on my list.  This is a very cute project and hopefully, you have some teasels in a field near you.  Here is a bear in pieces.

This photo is kind of dark, but hopefully you get the idea.

Teasel Teddy Bear

Here is the material list:

6 teasels:  3" long for body; 1-1/2" long for head; 1-1/2" long for arms; 2" long for legs; 2 tiny teasels (or briers) for ears; 3 peppercorns for eyes and nose, ribbon, wire for hanging and dried material for bouquet and glue gun.  You will need protective gloves!  These things hurt!


1.  Lightly trim off top spikes of all teasels except ears.  Cut off all stems of teasels.  Blunt end of teasel body in seat of bear.
2.  Trim 1" indentation on side of each leg and arm teasel at blunt end to fit to appropriately trimmed 1" indentation on body.
3.  Glue on legs and arms and hold to set glue.  Trim indentation on head for neck and ears.  Glue head to body, ears to head.  Add the eyes and the nose.
4.  After dried, loop wire around head and body and make loop to hang on tree.
5.  Make bow and glue to front of bear and make a bouquet of dried flowers or a bowl from an acorn top and dried flowers and glue to arm or arms of bear.

Hope you have some extra time to make one of these charming characters!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cinnamon Spice Ornaments!

I got these two cute cinnamon spice ornaments the other night at the master gardener holiday gala!  Cindy who blogs at Texas Tufa and A Daily Life asked for the recipe earlier.  So here it is:

Cinnamon Spice Ornaments

Prep time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 40 minutes or 1-2 days air drying
Recipe makes 12-15 ornaments

3/4 cup applesauce
1-4.12 oz. bottle ground cinnamon
(You can substitute a portion of the cinnamon with ground ginger,
allspice, ground cloves, etc.)
1-2 Tbs. white glue to start

cookie cutters
cookie sheet (use an old one that you won't use for food again)
drinking straw
ribbon or string
plastic wrap
rolling pin
parchment paper to line cookie sheets
disposable gloves

1.  Mix applesauce and white glue with spices to form a stiff dough.  (Don't add all of the glue at once.  Drizzle a little glue at a time until dough reaches right consistency, not too wet, or crumbly.)

2.  Place the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap.  With rolling pin flatten dough to 1/4" thickness.  Remove top sheet of plastic wrap and cut dough with cookie cutters.  Move ornament to cookie sheet with a spatula.  Cut holes for ribbon with the drinking straw.  Bake at 200 degrees until ornaments slightly darken, about 40 minutes; place on rack to cool.  You can also air dry for 1-2 days; turn ornaments occasionally to prevent warping!  NOT EDIBLE!

We had a cookie table the other night for dessert and someone thought extra unwrapped ornaments were cookies!  Not good!  They may look good enough to eat, but don't do it!  Hope you can make some for the holidays!

The Great Seed Experiment--Part II

Putting the soil into the Propagator.

Planting the garlic chive seeds.

Putting on the green and red plastic on the lid.

The Great Seed Experiment is ready to begin!  The question is what does red, green and white light have on the growth of seeds?  Hopefully, my friend will have her answer soon!  We will let you know.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Great Seed Experiment Begins!

We are getting ready for my best friend's daughter to come and start her science project.  We have a great helper called the "Propagator."  She is going to plant Allium tuberosum or garlic chive seeds.  Hopefully, they will germinate faster because of the Propagator!

Fortunately I cut these garlic chive flowerheads down and put them in a bag to save them.  They will self-sow rampantly if you let them.  I have some that I haven't cut so I will be digging out the seedlings in the coming year!  I couldn't download my photos from this afternoon.  I'll update this post tomorrow hopefully!

Friday, December 4, 2009


I guess you may have known a translation for the first part of my title.  The second part is the Master Gardener Holiday Gala is tonight!  Here is my cookie selection.  I have so much fresh lemon verbena at the moment that I made lemon basil cookies, what else lemon verbena cookies!  Here is the original recipe from Foods & Flavors from the Fairfield Herb Society Vol. II:

Lemon Basil Cookies

1/4 c. butter
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese (I used light)
1 egg yolk
1 t. lemon juice
1/2 t. grated lemon peel
1 box lemon cake mix
1 1/4 c. raisins or currants (I would reduce the amount to 1/2 c. or 3/4 c.)
1/4 c. shredded coconut
1/4 c. chopped walnuts
1 T. dried basil or 3 T. fresh, chopped fine (I used 3 T. fresh lemon verbena.  I would not use dried lemon verbena.  It gives it a different taste.)

Cream butter, cheese, egg yolk, and lemon juice until well blended and very fluffy.  Blend in cake mix, 1/3 at a time, mixing last portion by hand.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Drop by level tablespoons onto greased baking sheet.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 15 to 18 minutes or until lightly browned. (15 minutes was more than enough in my oven.)  Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
I liked the way these cookies taste (It's lemon verbena come on, who doesn't like lemon verbena.), but I'm interested to make them with dried or fresh basil and less raisins.  I'll let you know how they turn out.  The Herbal Husband is happy with the leftover cookies.  Remember to order a herb cookbook from a local herb group or herb unit of The Herb Society.  It would make a great Christmas gift!

 I got the little fox ornament as my gift this year made of brushes.  It is very sweet.  The other two Christmas items are cinnamon ornaments.  I will share the recipe with you this week some time.  We had a good crowd and it is always fun to catch up with my gardening friends.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Gardening Pickup Sticks!

I'm not getting the time I need to blog.  So you will just have to wait for my update on last year's project!  When we moved the kids around yesterday, we had to sort out the gardening sticks.  I know, I know.  I just remember playing pickup sticks for hours when I was young!  If you store items correctly now, you don't have to worry in the spring when you are trying to get plants staked and can't find the right size stake.  OK, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!  Stay tuned for my update!  Hope you are staying warm or cool wherever you may be!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I Got Sidetracked! Are The Plants All Going to Fit?

Well, you are just going to have to wait for my update from last year.  We had to move the kids around inside the basement and garage so The Herbal Husband's car could fit in the garage!  This is the night blooming jasmine and it should have lost its leaves by now!  It would have been great if it were blooming!  Doesn't have enough light.  All the plants did fit!  It is amazing to me that they always do and we always seem to have more to put inside!  Probably not so good!  The scented geraniums, lavender and rosemary are all in the garage.  A very good thing!  I finally got through!  Whoo hoo!  So the Several Days of Christmas may be continue tomorrow!  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Several Days of Christmas!

Not doing the 12 days nor 24, but just a few to maybe get you and me enthused about Christmas or whatever holiday you may celebrate.  We used to go all out, tree, party and decorating.  When I lived in an apartment, the tree had to be cut down to fit!   So hopefully in the next several days, I will inspire both you and I (or is it me?) to decorate and enjoy this season to be with loved ones and friends and family.  This first item is a scrapbook that was put together over 20 years by a favorite herbal author of mine and one you all should know by now, Bertha Reppert.  The Rosemary House has been in business over 40 years and, you can still buy this scrapbook if you are interested.  It is jammed packed with herbal recipes, herbal decorating and herbal tips to get in the holiday mood.  It would make a great Christmas gift for that special friend or family member.  Ho! Ho! Ho!  There is an update on a Christmas project from last year you don't want to miss tomorrow!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Winners in the Garden!

We go from winners of herbal books to beets and one lone carrot!  The Herbal Husband was out in the garden harvesting before we get snow later this week!  I think we had a pretty good harvest this year.   They are already cooked and ready to go for salad.  Now we don't have our own tomatoes or lettuce!!  Always works that way!  We will savor every bite of these lovely vegetables!  Hope you are still enjoying harvests of your vegetables wherever you may be!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

And The Winners Are!

The winner of the Bertha Reppert book, A Heritage of Herbs is....

and the winner of the Culinary Herbs and Condiments book is. . .

I will be getting in touch with both of you shortly to get your addresses.  I just want to thank all of you for participating.  I love writing this blog and all of your kind words is the greatest blessing to me.

Thanksgiving Clouds!

Here in western Pennsylvania, we are coming into our gray period, winter.  So on Thanksgiving while the turkey was roasting in the oven, the clouds were on the move!  We actually had some blue sky that day.  We cherish blue sky and sun in the wintertime!  Hope you are enjoying blue sky and sun wherever you may be!


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Guest Blogging for The Herb Companion Magazine!

This was early Thanksgiving day when the pecan pie had just come out of the oven.  Here is my post with my favorite recipe to use your leftover turkey.  Hope you enjoy it!   DON'T FORGET TO ENTER THE HERBAL BOOK GIVEAWAY POSTED ON NOVEMBER 21, 2009!  WE'LL BE DRAWING THE WINNERS TOMORROW!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Trying to be Invisible!

The peanut caddy and suet are back on the Japanese maple.  The Thanksgiving feast was enjoyed by bluejays, cardinals, a woodpecker, a crow (He waits below for a bluejay to throw him a peanut.  I know I would not have believed it, but I have seen it.) and, of course, the gray squirrel.  Click on the picture to get a better view!  We need to get a bird cam so that you can see them all in action.  They fly when I come outside to take picutres.  I have tried through the window and it is not the same.  Hope you all are stuffed with good food and stories from family and friends.  We had a great day! DON'T FORGET TO ENTER THE HERBAL BOOK GIVEAWAY POSTED ON NOVEMBER 21, 2009!  WE'LL BE DRAWING THE WINNERS IN A COUPLE OF DAYS!