Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Guest Blogging for Mother Earth Living Magazine!

As I eluded to in an earlier post, I have been busy making herbal blends from the containers on my worktable in the basement.  As National Hot Tea month is coming to an end, here are some recipes for herbal tea blends that I found in booklets from some of my favorite herb sources.  The post is entitled Celebrate National Hot Tea Month.  Please if you have questions about tea or herbal teas, I would be happy to answer them.  I'm going to try and put together a list of herbs that would make great herbal teas by themselves.  I wonder what I may suggest?  Maybe my favorite?  I'm going to be working in other tea recipes I have found and tips on steeping teas, etc.  Stay tuned to find out what I'm up to!

We finally had a very sunny day here not typical for the 'Burgh in winter.  It is still very cold, but actually we had a double digit day above 10 degrees.  We are supposed to be in the 20's tomorrow.  Never thought I would say yippee to that number!  So stay warm.  Make a cup of herbal tea and enjoy my latest post.  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Remembering Claude Monet's House and Gardens, Giverny, France-2007 and 2011!

It is not often that you get to visit a place twice in a lifetime.  I have been privileged to see Giverny, France and the home and gardens of Claude Monet in two different seasons.  First in October of 2007 and then again in July of 2011.  I'll let you decide when you think is the best time to visit.  Giverny is just not about Claude Monet, but the village is quite quaint and the Impressionists Museum and gardens are a treat as well.  Hope you enjoy these visits.

Monet's House in October, 2007
Monet's House in July, 2011
Perennial Borders in October, 2007
Perennial Borders in July, 2011
The Nasturtium Walk in October, 2007
The Nasturtium Walk in July, 2011
Another View of the Perennial Borders in October, 2007
Another View of the Perennial Borders in July, 2011
The Lily Pond in October, 2007
The Lily Pond in July, 2011
Well, we are experiencing our coldest day this year so far and we are only 28 days into 2014!  Yikes!  Hope you are staying warm wherever you may be!  Talk to you later.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Remembering Summer in Paris, France-July, 2011!

We ended our European vacation in July 2011 visiting Paris!  We have had several trips to Paris, but none in the tourist season.  Here are some recollections of Paris 2011.  I enjoyed every moment I could in the gardens in Paris.  They are beautiful maintained and a joy to see!  Hope you are staying warm wherever you may be.  We are only going to get colder.  Talk to you later.
Last Time We Were at Notre Dame, There Was Scaffolding!
Lavender and Rosemary Near Notre Dame!
A Bright and Colorful Flower Bed at Sacre Coeur
La Basilique du Sacre Coeur de Montmartre
Looking Down to the City from Sacre Coeur
It's All About Plants in This Garden
Look at the Beautiful Sage and Rosemary!
Looks Like the Dill is in Bloom Here!
Always Have to Have Sunflowers!
Wonderful Combinations of Flowers and Colors!
Love to Walk Down the Long Borders of Color!
Loved the Various Heights and Choices of Flowers and Herbs Used!
Another Color Palette,  Heights and Flowers!
Have to End with a Glorious Rosemary!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Sunday in Brighton, England, July, 2011!

Who Knew It Would be Cold and Windy in Brighton in July!
Every time (Well, maybe not every time) we go to England, The Herbal Husband asks, "Why don't we go to Brighton?"  There has always been a reason not to go.  So in July how can it be bad.  It was cold, windy and rainy!  Typical English summer weather!  The Herbal Husband also has to have ice cream when we go to the beach.  This time it was with a twist.  Although there is no photo to prove it, a seagull swooped down and took a bite out of his ice cream cone!
The Royal Pavilion of King George
The Royal Pavilion was built for the Prince Regent, who later was King George IV.  It is a palace that contains the finest collections of chinoiserie style in Britain.
One of Many Perennial Borders Surrounding the Palace
You know I can always find any herb or two in a garden.  I'm always envious of rosemarys in the right place to grow.
A Happy Rosemary in the Flower Bed!
One of My Favorite Summertime Flowers, Hollyhocks!
Then we hopped on a bus and went out to Preston Manor on the outskirts of Brighton.  It is a very nice manor house that sheltered us when the rains finally came.  What is most special about Preston Manor are the gardens.
Preston Manor

The Walled Garden Entrance
Beautiful Views in the Garden
Another Beautiful Rosemary!
Plants Sheltered from the Wind with the Wall!
A Small Lily Pond  
A Majestic English Oak on the Front Lawn!
Must Have a Cream Tea to Get Warm!
Really had a wonderful day at Brighton even with the windy, rainy weather.  As you can see by the last photo, we enjoyed a cream tea before going back to London!  I think it has finally stopped snowing here.  The plow truck just went by.  So I'll take a photo for you out the basement door!  It is the light fluffy stuff so it should be easy to shovel away!  I'm happy the herb garden has a layer of insulation for the next deep freeze coming this week!  Stay warm out there if you are in the northern part of the US.  Talk to you later! 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Remembering the Warmth of the Sun- Europe, 2011!

Just have to do something to not think about the snow and very cold temperatures that are coming our way!  So I had a great idea!  Why not finish our trip to Europe that happened in 2011?  I did a few posts about that trip, but not nearly enough.  We rented a car near Avignon, France and really got see the countryside, particularly the lavender fields.  It was very warm there.  The only very warm weather we had on that trip.  To refresh your memory, we went to The Netherlands first and then went by train to the south of France.  Weekdays and weekends are for the open air markets in various towns.

Hope you enjoy this memory of our 2011 trip to Europe!  It is lightly snowing here and getting cold.  More snow is on the way tomorrow!  It is winter, but a more extreme version than we have had for a very long time!  Stay warm!   Talk to you soon! 
Honey and Basil-two Staples of French cuisine!
The Fruit of Summer!
The Spice Ladies!
Lots of Bright Colorful Wares for Sale!
Wheels of Gruyere Cheese
Wheeling Fresh Herbs and Flowers in for Sale!

Friday, January 24, 2014

See You Soon for Lunch, Kathleen!

Lady Catherine and Her Lady-in-Waiting at the National Herb Society Conference
The herb world is going to be a bit different on Monday morning, Kathleen Gips from the Village Herb Shop is retiring.  The weather gods are not cooperating and Bonnie and I will not be at her retirement class with Lady Catherine tomorrow.  We are with you in herbal spirit, Kathleen.  We know you will have a great day!

This would probably not have gotten much news, but I want you to know that Kathleen has inspired many people, young (her grandsons) and old, over the years with her herbal knowledge.  I joke with Kathleen that I stalked her for a long time before we actually met.  I first saw her name and mail order business in a copy of The Herb Companion in the 1990's.  The Herbal Husband and I drove by her home hoping that she had an herb shop when we went to Chagrin Falls for an antique show.  You almost had some unexpected company, Kathleen!

She started a mail order company called Pine Creek Herbs and sold her jellies, vinegars and potpourris from her house and she has been in three retail spaces since then.   She has written a book on Herbal Vinegars and two books on the Language of Flowers.  She has written dozens of articles, done local TV programs and had many recipes and articles published in cookbooks and herb books.

And even though she will not be in the shop every day, Kathleen will continue with the quarterly tea events at VHS.  The other good news in all of this is that Chagrin Falls is keeping the Village Herb Shop.  The new owner is Lee Ann Halley and hopefully Bonnie and I will be continuing our herbal education with Lee Ann.  We wish all of the best to Lee Ann and The Village Herb Shop of Chagrin Falls!

So dear Kathleen, I do know that we will have lunch and maybe some herbal adventures in the not too distant future.  Enjoy those river cruises in Europe or wherever in the world you may go.  Enjoy your family and herb groups and teaching when you can and know that your herbal knowledge has educated lots of people in a meaningful way!  I also realized that a bunch of herbal products I use every day are because you taught me how to make them!  Here's to a special herb lady that has been in our lives for 20 plus years!  Bonnie and I look forward to having lunch at Rick's Cafe with you very soon!

This afternoon The Herbal Husband and I had Violet and Lavender Tea and Gingerbread Scones in your honor, Kathleen!  I found Devon Cream at the grocery store for The Herbal Husband!  He was in heaven!  His words not mine, "These are too good.  We can only have these every six months!"  He'll be begging for them again soon!

Gingerbread Scone with Rose Geranium Jelly and Violet and Lavender Tea!

Here's to You, Kathleen!
I have been working diligently on a post for Mother Earth Living about herbal teas.  Now that I have that done, I'll get back to blogging.  The weather is cold and snowy, but it is January.  Talk to you later.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Making Herbal Tea Blends!

A Small Collection of Tea Cup and Mugs
I have really been busy behind the scenes making up herbal tea blends and trying them out for my upcoming blog post for Mother Earth Living.  Yes, I have been holding out on you!  Some of the cups and mugs above have had a workout.  The cup and saucer in front has an herbal theme from my herbal companion, Bonnie.  The hand decorated mug in the back left has a holder for a tea bag.  The mug in the middle has a bouquet of johnny-jump-ups and the mug to the right has a ceramic insert for straining loose tea and a lid to keep the essential oils while steeping.

I have become a real tea drinker because I can't drink coffee any more because of my GERD.  So I have a lot of containers on my worktable in the basement full of herbs just right for teas.  There are several booklets that I found that have some great herbal recipes.  Here is one from the booklet called Beverages with Herb Scents from the Western Reserve Unit of the Herb Society of America called Une Tisane Francaise.  In the description it says:
"A classic blend for just about any occasion.  Good alone; no food needed.  The Lavender blossoms bestow a certain peaceful quality.  Some people like it before bedtime."
Une Tisane Francaise
Made 26 teabags

2 cups Lemon Balm leaves, crushed
1 cup Mint leaves, crushed
1/2 cup Lavender Blossoms

It is very tasty.  I think you will enjoy it.  I steeped the blend for 5 minutes.  It was just perfect.

Dried Herbs for Une Tisane Francaise
 It is very cold and snowy here!  Hope you are staying warm with a cup of herbal tea!  Talk to you later! 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Should Never Make an Out Loud List, Herbally Speaking!

I always get myself into trouble by making a list at the beginning of the blogging year and proceed to trash it!  Well, I will get to some of my list at some point this year!  Here is what I've been up to since that list was typed.  Most of us in the U.S. have doctor's visits to fulfill if we want new prescriptions in the new year and this year is different because some of us have new insurance.  I'm just saying Thank God!  So everything is fine.  All of the parts are working for both of us.  I worked on some parsley soup that looks like carrot and lovage soup!

The Parsley Soup Looks Like Carrot Soup!
So I will give you links for both recipes, parsley dill soup and carrot and lovage soup.  They are very similar in ingredients, but usually the parsley dill soup is lighter if you put more potatoes in than carrots, but it doesn't matter if you don't exactly have the ingredients, it will taste great!

I was also thinking about favorite soups that I have made over the years.  Here is my mother's recipe for vegetable soup.  I think I would call it Meaty Vegetable Soup because it is just not vegetables.  It does have meat in it.  You can also make it without the meat.  I can't eat this anymore because of the tomatoes!  I think you will enjoy it.

Meaty Vegetable Soup
(Makes 4-6 servings)

1 lb. of meat cubes
4 c. of water
3 t. salt
1/4 c. washed rice
1 large (28 oz.) can tomatoes
1/4 c. or more raw potatoes
1 10 oz. package mixed vegetables
1 onion, chopped
2 or 3 ribs of celery, chopped
1 green pepper chopped

Cook meat, water and salt together for 1-1/2 hours, add rice, potatoes, tomatoes, onion, celery and green pepper and cook for 45 minutes.  Add mixed veggies and cook for 30 minutes.  Always keep covered, bring to a boil and let simmer while cooking.  Stir occasionally to keep from sticking.  Serve with feta-sage cornbread or a good hearty bread and herb butter.

I also made the last lemon bread with crystallized lemon peel mix (They don't make it any more!) from Lollipop Tree I had from the Village Herb Shop and added the last fresh lemon verbena leaves from last year and some nuts!  Looks like the start of a pesto!  The Herbal Husband approved!

A Mix of Lemon Verbena Leaves and Walnuts for the Tea Bread!
Will try to get back to that list later on.  I want to particularly talk about herbal tea blends since it is National Hot Tea month!  So stay tuned! We are cold without snow.  That makes me worried about plants because they like to be insulated with the snow when the temperatures get below freezing!  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.