Friday, December 30, 2011

An Herbal Year in Review!

January 1, 2011
First, I think 2012 is going to come in much like 2011 did!  Here is a photo of the garden on January 1 and you will see in a couple of days that it is much the same.

Float Plane Trip Going to Whistler, BC, Canada in May, 2011
We had several trips this year.  Probably more than we were entitled to, but they were great.  Starting in May with Vancouver and our float plane trip to Whistler.  I will never forget that ride!  It was fabulous.
Apothecary's Rose and Rosa Mundi in June, 2011
We got to spend June here with our Gallica roses, the Apothecary's Rose and Rosa Mundi.  I bring this up because 2012 the Rose is the Herb of the Year!  Yippee!
Overlooking Some Lavender in the Town of Sault, France, July, 2011
I just had a mess of stuff ticked off the bucket list this year including driving in the south of France (Not!) and visiting the lavender fields.  It was a thrill of a lifetime and maybe now that the garden is done, I can post a couple posts about the trips.  I have posted a few things but I need to finish both Vancouver and Europe!  We'll have lots to talk about!

A Glorious Rose Called 'The Fairy' in September, 2011
We spent the rest of the summer trying to get the garden in some kind of shape for the offseason.  Some plants got fried in the heat and some didn't do well without supplemental water.  It was a mixed bag, but most herbs survived even neglected as they were.  'The Fairy' rose always seems to do well in our garden.  I'm trying to sneak a few other bushes in the garden.  We have a red one that we just bought this season and it bloomed a lot, but didn't get much size.  Hopefully, 2012 (Rose is the Herb of the Year!) it will do very well.

Lemon Verbena Attacked by the Stink Bug, but Still Producing Leaves in October, 2011
Yes, my dear herb, lemon verbena was attacked by the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, but it continued to produce leaves and made batches of lemon verbena jelly.  I have a new recipe I need to try before posting it for you. 
A Mini Spice Wreath for Christmas Gifts, December 2011
The last few weeks of the year were really productive for me.  I made several wreaths of both potpourri and spice to give as Christmas gifts.  I made a few tea bags with a new blend and generally had a great time.  Hopefully, 2012 will be a wonderful herbal year for us all.  I'm coming up on 1,000 posts and I just don't know how the time flew by so quickly!  I'm going to try and recategorize my posts so they will be easier to find!  Break the "Favorite Herbs" down so they are maybe annual, perennial, biennial and tender perennial.  Well, it will take me some time, but I think it will be helpful to all of my dear and devoted readers.

So The Herbal Husband and I want to wish you a very safe and happy new year and I'll talk to you again next year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I Guess I Can't Be Any Other Name!

Hope you had a nice Christmas!  It was very quiet around here.  I cooked most of the weekend.  Write that one down.  It doesn't happen often!  Maybe in the new year it will happen more.  Well, wanted to show you that both of our lemon verbenas still have their leaves and are growing new ones as well!  As I always tell you they usually drop their leaves and go dormant.  This year I guess we dug them up with enough time that they got used to their surroundings.  Well, we were supposed to get a light dusting last night and that didn't happen we just got almost an inch of rain.  Maybe over an inch.  We have been a lot warmer than usual, but today we are in the 20's.  Now it feels like Christmas and it's over!  Ha!  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas to All, but Not the Same Without Snow!

I'll have to enjoy looking at the snow on our holiday card, cause we aren't going to get any for Christmas!  Going to take a small break and pout!  No really, I'll probably be back before the new year is here!

From The Herbal Husband and I, we want to wish you a very Merry Christmas and more than that a very peaceful holiday with your family and friends!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Our Christmas Wreath!

This wreath is a trip down memory lane and sometimes I don't like to go down those paths.  For some reason, The Herbal Husband loves this wreath.  It is more than 20 years old and it hung on my mother's apartment door at a retirement home where she used to live.  I added some fresh holly to it so it would look a little better.  Still warm here.  The good news is I got a great walk in.  Not much like the holidays.  Hope your decorations are making you merry!  Talk to you later!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Herbal Tea for the Holidays!

I am making a conscious effort to make more herbal gifts this year.  I was looking at my pile of containers filled with herbs and thinking I need to make something from the herbs I have.   When you have a lot, it is easier to make something.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  I'm always looking for tea on a cold winter's day and since it is the first day of winter, it's in the 50's!  Ridiculous.

OK, the photo above is measuring out the herbs.  The tea blend I made is of lemon balm, lemon verbena and spearmint.  I found it in an Savoring Summer Iced Teas from The Herb Companion by Maggie Oster and click on winning iced tea combinations, you will see different combinations.  I thought this one would be good hot as well.   It is two parts lemon balm, one part lemon verbena and one part spearmint.  So what you ask is a part?  My definition of a part is any measurement you want it to be.  In my case, I made a part, a cup.  So the recipe becomes 2 cups of lemon balm, 1 cup of lemon verbena and 1 cup of spearmint.  If you only have a teaspoon or so, a part would be a teaspoon size measure.

I combined all of the leaves into one container and took some scissors and snipped through the leaves.  You can do this as you are putting them into the main container.  I thoroughly mixed all of the herbs together and then put two teaspoons into my make your own tea bags from Nichols Garden Nursery out in Oregon.  The directions just calls for one teaspoon, but I was generous and used two teaspoons and the bag seems to last for at least a couple of cups.  Even if I crush the bag before brewing the first cup, it seems to be better for the second cup.  I thought it was good hot, but you may enjoy it cold as well.  That is how it is meant to be served.

Finally got a wreath up on our new door, but of course, there is controversy about which wreath to put there!  I'll show you in an upcoming post.  Winter solstice is upon us and it's in the 50's!  Just weird!  Hope you're having a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

One More Post About The 2011 Herb of the Year-Horseradish!

These were the products from our day of celebrating Horseradish at The Village Herb Shop in Chagrin Falls this spring.  I did have a sheet (two sided) from a friend who was a very good cook and involved in a local herb club who talked about horseradish.  Of course, even though I was a legal secretary and extremely organized in my distant past, I can't seem to find that double sided sheet of paper about horseradish recipes!  Before I lost the sheet though, I did nip one recipe for a quick and easy dip that you can take to any holiday get together.  Thanks to Lee Price!

Horseradish Dip

8 oz. package cream cheese (light is OK)
1/2 cup sour cream (light is acceptable)
1/4 cup horseradish
3 T. minced parsley
4 t. lemon juice
1 T. grated onion
Pinch of salt (optional)

Blend all ingredients thoroughly.  Chill before serving with veggies or crackers.

If I find the other recipes, I will pass them along!  Here is a link to an excellent article from my favorite herb magazine, The Herb Companion by Susan Belsinger called 2011 Herb of the Year:  Horseradish (Amoracia rusticana).  There are a lot of great recipes in it and growing tips as well.  So as we say goodbye to horseradish, we look forward to talking about (a little more than horseradish) the 2012 Herb of the Year, Rose!  It is just down right warm here.  Ridiculous!  Winter comes tomorrow and we may be up to 60 degrees again!  Hope you aren't buried in snow yet!  Talk to you later.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Spice Wreaths for the Holidays!

Well, here is my current post for The Herb Companion magazine about these cute little spice wreaths from Marge Clark's book Christmas Thyme at Oak Hill Farm.  My post is called My Favorite Christmas Thyme Book and Spice Wreaths, Part 2.  Hope you enjoy it!  The weather is cold but no snow on the ground.  Talk to you later.

Friday, December 16, 2011

And The Winner Is. . .!

Well, the wait is over!  The Herbal Husband thought he could slip his name into the basket!  I wouldn't let that happen!  CAROL, you are the winner!  Congratulations!  I think I do have your address, but if you want to confirm it to me at you know that lemonverbenalady address.  I'll get it packaged up and in this afternoon's mail!  I will also send you additional directions by e-mail for the soup mix and a precise listing of ingredients for the Italian Salad Dressing Mix because as I said before we eyeballed the measurements!  Thanks to all of you who entered.  Now off to fill the box with goodies.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Please Don't Miss The End of the Giveaway!

Even the bluejay is impatient waiting for the end of the giveaway!

and there's more.

One of my dedicated readers from the U.S. is going to win all of this loot!  So don't delay!  Click on the picture at the top right hand portion of my home page and enter!  Don't waste a comment here.  Go to the original post, please.  Please no anonymous comments!  Thanks.  The giveaway ends at 1:00 PM Eastern Standard Time, this Friday, December 16, 2011 so we can package up your prize and get it in the mail in time for Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Herb Channeler for The Herb Companion

The latest post for The Herb Channeler is up on The Herb Companion website and it is called My Favorite Christmas Thyme Book and Dried Herb Wreaths, Part 1.  So there will be a Part 2 shortly!  You can check out how they turned out.   I do like the ones I made with the Jello molds a little better and I liked my herbie buddy in Maine who suggests using a canning lid and just make a hole big enough for a candle.  Then you can just take the lid out from the ring when it is dried!  Very clever, Joanne.  Thanks for the idea.  Getting packages ready to send.  Don't forget to enter the giveaway!  It will be gone in an instant!  Cold but sunny here.  Not typical 'Burgh weather.  My buddy, Miss C is in her annual Christmas band concert this evening.  Should be loud and festive!  Talk to you later.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Return of Muffin Sundays!

Start Out With A Fresh Fruit Salad

Then Have a Couple of Rosemary Raisin Muffins

Just in Time for Christmas, the Rosemary is Blooming!
Well, since The Herbal Husband does a lot (Just about all.  I can't get a turn!  Although today I'm going to be cooking and baking all day!) of the cooking, I do all of the baking.  I have tried since I've lost weight to not eat as many sweet items as before.  They do catch up to you.  The Herbal Husband has to have something sweet at the end of dinner each night.  We usually have Jello or he has 1/2 of a Klondike and I have a yogurt cup.  I digress.  When Bonnie and I were up at Kathleen's Village Herb Shop on Friday, she had it jam packed with holiday treats.  Bonnie and I both noticed separately a packaged mix from The Invisible Chef for Rosemary Raisin Muffins.  Under the word Directions it states "Perfect for parties, brunch or any time you need a special treat!"  Well, Muffin Sunday always has to have a special treat.  These were so yummy!  They didn't need my jelly.  They had tons of flavor with rosemary, golden raisins and toasted pecans.  Can't wait to get back to Kathleen's to get more mix.  She had stocked up on our favorite lemon bread mix, but I didn't need it!  Once panettone season is over, we'll be baking our lemon cake for afternoon tea!  One more thing!  Just in time for the holidays our prostrate rosemary is blooming in the garage.  A beautiful sight!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I Didn't Want to Leave You in Herbal Limbo!

I was hopeful that my Herb Companion post would be up on their website to give you the recipe for these Mini Potpourri Wreaths from Marge Clark.  I used a mini bundt pan the other day and I think it turned out good as well.   Above is those individual Jello molds from bridge club days.  My Herbal Companion, Bonnie says she picks them up at Thrift Stores.  Mine are my mom's.  There are lots of different styles and designs.  Here is the one above decorated with some wired ribbon.  Don't you love ribbon that's wired?
Maybe a bit too much, but you get the idea.  I think I have to cut that one side off a bit!   I found packages of Norfolk Lavender potpourri at my local T.J.Maxx store several years ago and I've been holding on to them.  OK, they got misplaced!   Well, I could see them.  I just forgot what I wanted to use them for!  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  One package made two wreaths and that was about one cup in each mold.  The wreaths in the photo above are from a package containing both rose petals and lavender with a bit of fragrance.

Mini Potpourri Wreaths

For one 2-1/2” to 3” wreath, you’ll need:

1 to 1-1/4 cups potpourri (the prettier the potpourri, the prettier the wreath!)
(I found that the rose petals and the lavender flowers were about 1 cup to fill the mold.)
1 tablespoon white glue (such as Elmer’s)
1 tablespoon water
1 2-1/2” to 3” ring mold
Latex gloves
Measuring spoons and cups
Plastic spoon for mixing
A knife for removing wreath from mold
2 or 3 cup empty cottage cheese container for mixing
Doughnut cutter with handle removed or a mini bundt pan or a doughnut pan or individual jello molds
Nonstick vegetable spray or margarine for greasing mold
Essential oils
Ribbon or other dried flowers for decoration

1.   Grease the mold with margarine (Marge calls it oleo.) or cooking spray (Very important.  Don't skip this step.).

2.   Use a cottage cheese container (or some other disposable container) and mix the water and white glue together to make a thin paste.

3.   Add the potpourri and stir well to coat the leaves and petals with the thin glue mixture.

4.   Pack mixture into the prepared mold and tamp it down with your fingertips (This is where the gloves may be necessary.) Don’t worry about seeing the glue because it will dry clear.

5.   Drizzle the glue left in the container over the potpourri mixture in the mold.

6.   Let mold set for about 6 hours or overnight. (I left mine dry overnight.)  Run a table knife around the outside of the mold and gently ease wreath from mold.

7.   Let dry for several days, turning occasionally to dry evenly on both sides.  Decorate with additional dried flowers or herbs and ribbons.

8.   Because the glue mixture coats the potpourri, the wreath may lose its fragrance.  After the wreath is thoroughly dry, add a drop or 2 of essential oil (your choice) to each wreath.

9.   To store, wrap each wreath in plastic wrap or in a small plastic bag and keep out of direct light until ready to use at holiday time.

When you get ready to put them away for the season, rewrap them in plastic or place them in a resealable bag and put them in a covered box away from heat and light.
This is the attempt from the mini bundt mold pan.  It was just rose petals coated with the glue mixture and pressed into the mold.  It has some fragrance, but I may add some essential oil to liven it up!  Marge Clark has a mini spice wreath recipe as well and I'm going to work on some of those this weekend.  Hopefully, I can share that with you later this weekend.

The cold has reached us and it is starting to feel wintery!  Hope you are having a great day decorating with your family.  I'm going to get back to my work table and work on those spice wreaths.  Talk to you later.

A Taste of Italy Gift Basket and a Bit More Giveaway! U.S. Readers Only!

Yesterday my Herbal Companion, Bonnie and I went to our favorite herb shop in Chagrin Falls, The Village Herb Shop to make A Taste of Italy Gift Basket.  It is the most wonderful time of the year at Kathleen's shop, Christmas.  Boy, if you aren't in the mood once you leave there, you are a Scrooge!  OK back to what will be in your box should you win it:

A Taste of Italy Gift Basket

Herb Seasoning for Pasta
Herb Seasoning for Pizza
Hearty Pasta Soup Mix
Herbal Bread Dipping Mix
Italian Salad Dressing Mix

So five different herb blends.  The soup mix has the beans and pasta included.  I have to remember to e-mail the winner the directions for the soup once you want to mix it.  Ha!  Well, I know the winner will let me know if I need to do it!  We also eyeballed the ingredients (no small measuring spoons) in the Italian Salad Dressing Mix so you will get the exact measurements to make another batch once the first one is gone!  Also, you will win the additional prizes in the next photo.  The napkins from the last giveaway that I think you will enjoy using for a party either now or next summer, two jars of jelly, one of Horseradish since it's the 2012 Herb of the Year, a jar of Spicy Basil Apple jelly, a new flavor this year and a small ornament proclaiming Joy!

As I say in my title, this giveaway is for U.S. readers only.  Last time I had someone win from North Pole, Alaska!  So who knows!  One entry per reader, please.  This contest will be open until next Friday, December 16, 2011 at 1:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time.  No anonymous comments please.  I have been using Kathleen's blends for years so I know you will love these.  I hope you know how much I appreciate you as readers and treasure each one of you.  So Good Luck!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

OK, So Here is Another Hint!

Sort of a bad photo.  There are two mini ring molds now and they are filled with . . .  Remember they were used for individual jello salads at bridge club.  Ahh, I remember those days fondly.  Herbal ice rings were a good guess, but not correct.  This is not an edible project.  I'll be away for the day tomorrow, but tomorrow evening, we'll solve the mystery or you can keep guessing before hand.  These are so easy to do and it might help with your holiday decorating!  I've said enough!

One of My Favorite Christmas Books and Jello Molds!

This is one of my favorite books this time of year.  Marge Clark has written several cookbooks with comfort food and herbs always in mind.  This one is like being at her home in Indiana for the holidays.  Sadly, Marge (I feel like I knew her.) was killed in a car accident 12 years ago!  I have been working on my latest post for The Herb Companion and it involves this book and a couple of the craft recipes inside.  I'll leave you with this question what do herbal crafts and jello molds from the 50's have in common?
It has finally gotten COLD here, but cold is very relative because we were 60 degrees two days ago!  I know some of you have already shoveled SNOW!  Well, it is the holiday season.  Stay tuned tomorrow or Saturday I will be announcing a mega herbal spectacular giveaway!  You won't want to miss it!  Talk to you later.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Not Too Good At Multi-Tasking!

Yikes is it possible, we have less days to get finished what we need to get done before the holidays?  I'm just throwing that out in case you haven't started to panic yet.  We don't entertain much over the holidays so I'm just getting you motivated to get moving if you need to get in entertaining mode!  Hopefully, in the coming days I will share a holiday craft or two and maybe a new tea blend or two before Christmas comes for stocking stuffers.  Less than three weeks!

Have a little rose petal jelly, cream cheese and crackers in the meantime.  The consensus of The Herbal Husband and I was that this jelly needs a bit of help, like a tablespoon or two or rosewater.  I tried it all natural and my roses weren't quite fragrant enough to give the jelly flavor.  So if you're lucky enough to have roses still blooming, try the recipe at the link above, but add a tablespoon maybe two of rosewater.  So I'll get my act together and start those craft projects.  Still mild here.  Maybe that's why I'm not too in the holiday mood!  Talk to you later.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Frosty Garden!

Just discussed with Taylorsoutback last night how green our garden was.  Well, TO it is going downhill fast!  This is this morning.  Frosty, man, frosty!
The birds have been having a field day with the seedheads of the coneflowers and rudbeckias.  A sad time, but as I always say I need a break from gardening.  Hope you have a great day.  I need to run and pack up the winners prizes. So I'll talk to you later.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

And The Winners Are!

Corinne and HC Greenery won jelly!

Danielle Pertuso, Carol, Sharon and Tufa Girl Won Pins!

Taylorsoutback, Flowerlady and Grace win napkins!
Everyone who commented!  Please ladies send me your full names and mailing addresses to lemonverbenaladyAThotmailDOTcom and if you have a blog name your blog name so I can match what you won with you.  One additional task for Grace of the bottom two napkins which one do you want?  Gardeners Know The Best Dirt or the Potted Herbs?  I really appreciate all of you participating.  I'm doing one more giveaway before the holidays so stay tuned.  One of you (Can't remember who?) asked about jelly recipes.  If you go near the bottom of my blog there are a list of labels for my postings and I think there is one for herbal jelly recipes.  Click on that link and it will take you to the recipes.  Look forward to hearing from you all.  Congratulations!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Miniature Railway or Two for the Holidays!

My big Peruvian/American kid wanted to go and see the Miniature Railroad & Village at the Carnegie Science Center.  If you are in the Pittsburgh vicinity, I would take whomever wants to go.  It's for kids of all ages.  It was a great day to go because the kids are still mostly in school and it was a rainy day.

The kids who were there had a great time and so did my big kid!  Mostly set in western Pennsylvania, it includes a part of the steel mills, Forbes Field where the Pirates were actually fun to watch, a western PA small town  the incline that provides transportation up and down the hillside near downtown Pittsburgh, Fallingwater, a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece and Luna Park, an amusement park.  It was a lot of fun to see it again and they are taking very good care of it.

If you are in the Chicago area, you should take the kids or grandkids to the Museum of Science and Industry and check out The Great Train Story with its 30 plus trains that go from Chicago to Seattle.  We also went to the Chicago Botanic Garden to see their Garden Railway.  They have the Wonderland Express at the moment.  Here are some photos from the outdoor display around Halloween.

I so loved the buildings made out of sticks and twigs and other natural materials that I sometimes forgot to take the trains!  It is all about them!  It was a lot of fun to see even without a small kid!  Remember my kid is big!   Lastly I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Winter Flower Show at Phipps Conservatory featuring The Nutcracker this year.  Get out and enjoy the holiday events in your town or city.  Looks like everyone that commented on the giveaway is going to get something!  It ends tomorrow morning!  It took me forever to get this post together.  Hope it makes sense!  Talk to you later.