Friday, February 28, 2014

Please Wish Him A Very Happy 70th!

From Baby to Scholar!
Well 30 years ago I started dating the man (He was 40 at the time!) you see in the photos above.  At that point in my life I thought I was going to be by myself and that was OK with me.  So long story short, I found out three things that hooked me.  He taught statistics in college (I flunked every math class I took in high school!), he cooked (very well) AND cleaned up after himself and our mothers were born on the same day in February!  So even though we were born miles apart, we had soo much in common besides our moms.  It was meant to be!

So this weekend we are celebrating his birth with multiple events that may or may not happen because of the weather!  The one event he really wants to have happen is dinner at the Grand Concourse.  I'm thinking it will go on as planned.  I'm so glad I didn't plan a big party because the weather isn't going to cooperate AGAIN!  So if you don't hear from me until later, I hope you will understand.  I will post extra photos later.  He makes me laugh almost every day.  In fact we just had a giggle while I have been typing this.  Love you Herbal Husband!  Happiest of Birthdays to You! xoxo

The Birthday Man and Me at the Grand Concourse
What's Left of a Martha's Vineyard Salad!
My Maryland Crabcakes with Rice and Broccoli!
His Lemon Chicken with Mashed Potatoes!
The Delicious Bread Basket with Crackers, Biscuits and Rolls!
A Cappuccino with Real Whipped Cream!
His Dulce de Leche Cheesecake!
My Key Lime Pie!
Well, hopefully you can see what a great time we had at the Grand Concourse Restaurant last night!  We were pigs and overate!  I try not to do that too often, but it was a very special birthday.  I think what put The Herbal Husband over the top was the second bread basket!  He ate most of it!  Really!  He woke up to greetings from the readers of my blog, some classmates and friends on Facebook and cards from many of our friends and of course, me.  It is snowing again here so we have had a quiet day.  He was out briefly shoveling a space to feed the birds.  We will be glued to the Oscars later.  Hopefully you are having a great day!  Talk to you later.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Signs of Spring, Herbally Speaking!

'Elfin' Thyme is Doing Well!

'Lavender' Thyme is Doing Fine!
'Frosty Fire' Dianthus Looks Good Too!

The Chives Are Just Coming Up!  They Are Behind This Year Because of the Cold!
Have to find all of the good things that are happening in the herb garden.  The thymes look like they are doing very well.  The chives are behind because of the intense cold weather and the dianthus are looking better than I expected.  I may lose plants this year because of the cold.  We will just have to wait and see. Now we are in the 50's today and tomorrow back to the 30's and later this week the single digits again!  It has been a very long winter here in the 'Burgh!  Hope you are enjoying warmer temperatures wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Small List and Design for the Potpourri Garden!

The Herb Garden in October 2013
The Pineapple sage was so happy blooming in the herb garden last year.  I try not to do everything the same each year.  I've been thinking about what to do in the new season.   The other day I shared a list of favorite lemon herbs for one part of the garden.  In the other part I may do a small potpourri garden.  I already have a number of lavenders and you can't have enough of those.  Here is a small list (not exhaustive by any means) just to get you thinking about what you might like in your herb garden.  BTW, this is not my design nor list, but I forgot to write where I got it from.  Thought it might be Herb Companion and it still might be.  Will let you know.  I also wanted to add that this list would be in addition to what is already in my herb garden.  So I might not be able to use every plant listed here!

A Small Potpourri Garden (8' x 18')

1.  'Four Seasons' Rose--Rosa x damascena 'Quatre Saisons'
2.  'Louise Odier' Rose--Rosa bourbon 'Louise Odier'
3.  'Attar of Roses' Scented Geranium--Pelargonium 'Attar of Roses'
4.  Cinnamon Basil--a cultivar of Ocimum basilicum
5.  Fruit-scented Sage--Salvia dorsiana
6.  Portland Rose-- Rosa portland 'Jacques Cartier'
7.  Cabbage Rose--Rosa x centifolia 'Petite de Hollande'
8.  Hummingbird Mint-- Agastache 'Desert Sunrise'
9.  Bee Balm--Monarda didyma 'Marshall's Delight'
10.  Lavender--Lavendula angustifolia--'Sharon Roberts'
                                                                      'Buena Vista'
                                                                      'Irene Doyle'
14.  Tubbed rosemary or birdbath

          1                                  9                  14                       8                     7
                                        10    11                                    12     13               

          2                  3              4      Small Seating Area         5                   6 

The lines I "drew" didn't translate in the finished design.  So get out your imagination, please!  We are downright balmy today.  We are exactly at the 40 degree mark as I sit here typing!  Still February so I'm not going to get too comfortable at the moment.  Hope you are warmer.  The snow is melting here.  It is going to get cold again over the weekend!  I really hope we keep some of the snow as a blanket for the plants.  They have had a very hard winter!  So have we!  Well, many topics still to discuss.  Talk to you later.         

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My Lemon Herb Wish List!

Three Lemon Favorites in a Western Facing Window!
The 'Lemon Crispum' Scented Geranium, the 'Lemon Meringue' Scented Geranium and the lemon verbena have all survived the very cold windowsill and are going gangbusters!  I talked a bit yesterday about lemon or potpourri or a combo.  Here is a brief list of lemon favorites:

Possibilities for My Lemon Herb Garden

Lemon thyme (Thymus x citriodorus)
Golden lemon thyme (Thymus citriodorus 'Aureus')
Lemon Frost thyme  (Thymus 'Lemon Frost')
'Lemon Balm' scented geranium (Pelargonium 'Lemon Balm')
'French Lace' scented geranium (Pelargonium 'French Lace')
'Mabel Grey' scented geranium (Pelargonium 'Mabel Grey')
'Lemon Crispum' scented geranium (Pelargonium 'Lemon Crispum')
'Lemon Rose' scented geranium (Pelargonium 'Lemon Rose')
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
Lemon Verbena (Aloysia triphylla)
Lemon Basil (Ocimum basilicum 'Citriodorum')
Lemon Mint (Monarda citriodora)
Lemon Catnip (Nepeta cataria 'Citriodora')
Lemon Gem Marigolds (Tagetes tenuifolia)
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) (Have lots of this already!)
Lemon Savory  (Satureja biflora)

Probably not going to use all of these, but some of them and as you can see I have a head start in the windowsill.  Here is a link to Geri Laufer's list called Lemon Gardens:  Grow These Lemon-Scented Herbs.  We'll talk about the potpourri herbs next time.  Snow this morning, but sun and warmer this afternoon.  Spring can't come soon enough!  Talk to you later.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Lemon, Potpourri or a Combination?

The August, 2013 Herb Garden
Don't get excited!  The snow and cold is not gone, but I did want to remind you in the cold northern states that you should be thinking about this year's herb garden.  I did a post from 2012 called Some Resources to Help with Your Herb Garden Planning.  In 2011 I did a post called Lots of Good Basic Herb Gardening Information.  These posts may be helpful in your planning sessions!

I'm just going to cut to the chase.  We are going to amend our soil because we haven't done so it about 9 years since the garden was redesigned.  I also think that we are going to lime it as well.  Because our soils are so acid and herbs like a sweet soil, lime will help raise the pH levels.  A soil test will help define exactly what we should be doing.  You can find your local extension office through this website, Cooperative Extension System Office.  Just click on your state and it will give you a larger state map with counties.  Just click on your county for the location of your nearest cooperative extension office.  They have lot of services for both farms and residential gardeners.  I volunteered with them for years.  They have sound information from their land-grant university.  In Pennsylvania's case, Penn State University.

So what am I going to do in my herb garden this year?   Well, maybe a lemon herb garden or a potpourri herb garden or a combination of both.  The Herbal Husband and I have gotten to the point that starting a lot of seeds is not efficient.  So I'm going to rely on my favorite herb farms Mulberry Creek Herb Farm (Open March, but call for exact dates and times) and Beech Creek Gardens in Ohio (Greenhouse is open from early April through June 30) and Well-Sweep Herb Farm in New Jersey because they still have mail order for my herb plants this year.  If you are in the northern New Jersey, it is a must see destination for the classic herb garden design and unusual herbs.  All three of these locations grow great herb plants.  Each of these three grower has a passion for herbs and have unusual choices.

I have a list of lemon herbs already from this article from what used to be Herb Companion magazine, now Mother Earth Living called How to Create a Lemon Garden from Geri Laufer.  Geri does live in Atlanta that has gotten a dose of our kind of weather here in the northern climes, but that's not normal for the south.  I will probably use some of her list of plants, but not all of them.  That list is included in the main article with a link right at the top of the article.  It is a much bigger garden than I have or need but I'm going to take a chunk out and use it.

I have a list of potpourri plants somewhere and I have some lavenders and a rose in my garden already.  So I'm thinking of doing a combination of both gardens.  Do you have plans for your garden this season?   If you have questions for me, I would be glad to try and answer them for you.

We have another round of snow coming overnight!  This is one of the harsher winters we have had for a long time!  Spring can't be that far away!  Oh, it's going to be 50 over the weekend!  Yippee!  Talk to you later. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Still Snowing and a Childhood Memory!

It is Still February and Still Snowing!
I just posted this photo on Facebook and it is still February and we still have about a month of winter to go!  It has been relentless this season!  We have had much more snow that usual and almost every day we have had snow!  So yesterday I got into my recipes and found a childhood favorite.  Not because my mom and I baked them together but because of a friend's mom.  I remember them as the best sugar cookies ever!  My friend kindly shared the recipe and I'm going to share it with you.  I'm going to call them Carolyn's Sugar Cookies and variations.  I really don't know what recipe she used so I apologize ahead of time.  It is not a diet recipe.  I'm not trying to make it healthier.  This is the cookie I remember from after school at their house.

Carolyn's Sugar Cookies and Hoping for Spring!
Carolyn's Sugar Cookies
Makes Several Dozen
Bake at 350 F for 8-10 minutes

1/2 cup melted shortening
3/4 cup sugar (I used lavender sugar.)
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cream of tartar

Mix together shortening and sugar.  Add eggs and cream well.  Add vanilla.  Mix in dry ingredients.  Chill. (I chilled my dough for about an hour.) (I rolled out my dough between two sheets of plastic wrap.) Cut into desired shapes.  (I got better at rolling out the dough in the later stages and my cookies at the end were thinner and crispier which The Herbal Husband enjoyed.)  I like mine thicker and softer as I remembered Carolyn made hers.

Here are the variations given:

Chocolate--add 2 squares melted unsweetened chocolate after the eggs.

Butterscotch--substitute 2/3 cup brown sugar for the granulated.

Coconut--add 1 cup moist, shredded coconut.

Filled--put together in pairs before baking with 1 t. jam, jelly or raisin filling; press edges together with fork and bake at 375 F. for 12-15 minutes.

Lemon--add 3/4 t. lemon juice and 2-3 t. lemon rind instead of vanilla.

Nut--add 1 cup finely chopped nuts.

Orange--substitute 1-1/2 t. orange juice and 2 T. grated orange rind for vanilla

Spice--add 1/2 t. cinnamon, 1/4 t. mace and 1/4 t. nutmeg.

As I have said before cookies are a very dangerous food group for me and The Herbal Husband!  Hope you are enjoying your Sunday!  Weekends are going fast around here.  Talk to you later.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

A Special Poem from The Language of Flowers
The Herbal Husband's Valentine's Gift to Me!
A Language of Flowers Book from 1849!
We started celebrating Valentine's Day a bit early with my post about the Language of Flowers for Mother Earth Living.  I got my Valentine's surprise yesterday when this language of flowers book arrived in the mail.  Hope you all enjoy your Valentine's Day.  The Herbal Husband is cooking dinner and I bought a special dessert.  So I'll share photos later!  We are still cold and it is going to snow again tomorrow!  I think we have had snow almost every day since the beginning of the year!  It is wearing a bit thin!  Talk to you later!

Well, I promised photos of dinner and here they are:

Pork chop with Mushroom Sauce, Mashed Potatoes and Asparagus!
A Chocolate Mousse Cup for The Herbal Husband!

Half of My Strawberry Mousse Cake!
 It was all amazing!  The house smells wonderful!  He really out did himself.   Thanks sweetie!  It was delicious!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Still Busy Making Tea Blends!

Looks Like a Potpourri but It is a Tea Blend called Kittatinny Tea
Sometimes the smallest herb books provide the most information.  It is with a small booklet I found at The Village Herb Shop one year.  It is called Beverages with Herb Scents by the Western Reserve Unit of the Herb Society of America.  Thanks ladies for putting so much great information about herbal teas into 13 pages!

Kittatinny is a mountain in the Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.  So it is a perfect blend for me to be doing.  I was running out of my self-sealing teabags.  So I put two teaspoons into these.  So I may get two steepings rather than just one.

Kittatinny Tea
(Makes approximately 23 teabags with 2 teaspoons each)
Steep for 5 minutes

2 cups lemon verbena leaves, crushed
1/2 cup chamomile flowers
1/4 cup rosemary blades
1/2 cup fragrant rose petals

Mix all together.  Bake for 30 minutes at 150 degrees.  Store in a dark dry place.

I did not bake the mixture.  I guess baking would enhance the flavor of the mix or kill off any hangers on!  The description says it is a good afternoon tea and is nice with scones, jam, fruit or light cake!

We are still very cold, but a break from the cold is going to happen next week, but not before we get a bit of snow tomorrow into Friday!  Will it ever end!  Well, since I was early celebrating Valentine's Day, we are going to go out for our Valentine's dinner tonight!  We have really been staying at home and not going anywhere.  So a night to celebrate is in order!  Going to T.G.I. Fridays and getting a free dessert!  Can't beat that!  Talk to you later!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Guest Blogging for Mother Earth Living Magazine!

The Herbal Husband's First Tussie-Mussie!
We were a bit early celebrating Valentine's Day in our house!   Here is the tussie-mussie that I made for The Herbal Husband.  He liked it so well he is sharing it with me.  I  guess I love it for both of us.  Here is the link for my post called Crafts for Valentine's Day and the Language of Flowers.

A red rose (“I love you”); carnation (pure and ardent love); daisy (“I will think of it”); baby’s breath (everlasting love); and some herbs from the indoor plants: peppermint scented geranium (cordial feelings), lemon verbena (“You have bewitched me”) and rosemary (for remembrance).  I didn't get a chance to mention the daisy meaning is because we are both getting older!  Really when a gentleman used daisies back in Victorian times the "I will think of it" meaning meant she made a wreath of daisies to wear around her head to remind her that she had a proposal to think about.

I just want to mention and give a shout out to my local florist Z Florist in the North Hills of Pittsburgh.  They have beautiful flowers and at reasonable prices.  I also want to give a very special thank you to my friend, Elizabeth Bergstrom Case who made a very special potpourri for Valentine's Day in time for this post.  You can check her beautiful cards and potpourri blends at Benevolent Botanical Greetings

Hope you all have a lovely Valentine's Day and hopefully Elizabeth and I have given you some ideas in this digital age to surprise your valentine!  It is still freezing here in the 'Burgh.  Hope you are warmer wherever you may be in the world.  Talk to you later.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Frozen in Time!

Sorry I haven't been much of a blogger lately.  Could give you the excuses, cold, snowy and icy.  This was the garden the other day before we got more snow!  Yes, Peggy R, I am getting sick of snow!  Want to make more tea bags because I'm going through them like crazy.  So hopefully I will carve out a little time to give you more tea recipes.  We don't get blue sky often in the winter.  So here is the herb garden in the bright sunshine!  Hope you are stay warm and cozy wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.