Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016, An Herbal Year in Review!

January--Very Cold and Snowy!
February--My Favorite Selfie of the Year!
March--Wildlife of All Kinds Are Welcomed!
April--One of My Favorites in the Spring-Forget Me Not!

May--One of the Highlights of My Trip to England-Sitting in Jekka's Garden at Chelsea!
June--Means Roses Blooming in the Garden!
August--A Volunteer Sunflower in the Herb Garden!
September--The Butterfly Bush is Blooming and Butterflies Abound!
September--Couldn't Pass Up Giving You This Sunflower in Bloom!
October--My Favorite, Lemon Verbena Was Huge in the Herb Garden and in Bloom!

November--Celebrated 29 Adventurous Years with The Herbal Husband!
December--Potpourri Wreaths Finished with Wired Ribbon!
December--Spice Wreaths Finished with Gold Ribbon!
Wow, looking back on the year 2016 wasn't as bad as I thought it might be!  I just needed to take a few more photos in the winter months!  I would say that our winter last year killed a lot of the pests that would have been problems during this growing season.  

Our spring was beautiful, but I think I need to plant more bulbs!  As it has happened in previous seasons, May was very hot, very early and I came back from England to a garden that was already passed bloom in a lot of cases.  I will be posting about my May travel to England in the coming months.

Summer here was very hot with some rain, but not enough because I lost some herbs, both from weather and rodent damage.  BTW, just for the record I made 112 jars of raspberry jam which are just about gone and another 80 plus jars of herbal jelly.  Just staring at that 19 pouches of Certo made me find new herbal flavors to try!

We had a beautiful fall as usual and I got a lot accomplished in my basement work space for Christmas giving, herbally speaking.  I found a whole box of dried material and depending on scent, I will be using it as filler for potpourri in the worst case and for scented potpourri in the best case.  So I am going to stitch in the next months, but I will try to work in some days where I will post what I am doing inside, tea blends, potpourris, reading about the 2017 Herb of the Year, Cilantro, the love or hate it herb!  You get the idea!  

I just want to take a moment to thank each of you who has hung in there with me and read each and every post that I have written over the past year.  Your sweet and questioning comments are what has kept me going.  Every time I think I have had enough, you keep encouraging me to go on.  So I wish you all a safe and peaceful new year and Lemon Verbena Lady will be posting in 2017!  Talk to you soon! 

Friday, December 30, 2016

2016, A Cross-Stitch Year in Review!

January--2016 Finish His Citizenship Sampler!
February--Had to Stitch a Valentine for The Herbal Husband!
February--A Day Short of His Anniversary It was Done!
March--Really Love Doing Smalls--A Needle Case Kit Finished from My Herbal Sister, Debs!
July--Another Intense Small with Fabric from StitchyBox!
August--An Anniversary Gift to My Bestie, Marilyn!

August--A Favorite Birthday Gift from The Herbal Husband!
October--A Birthday Surprise for Bonnie, My Herbal Traveling Companion!
November--The Gardener--Another Small from Blackbird Designs for Me!
A Gift Made Long Ago for My Mother!

December--Fairy Garden--Another Small from Blackbird Designs for Me!

A Surprise in the Winter 2017 Trends & Traditions Magazine from Colonial Williamsburg!
My Letter and Cross-Stitch Design of the Historic Area was in the Letters to the Editor!
So I never thought I would have enough done in my passion for cross-stitch to do a year in review.  I had really taken a break from my cross-stitch.  In the winter when I could take the time to stitch, I would get cuts and pain in my hands.  I had more band-aids covering my fingers than needles filled with thread.  I had a list of cross-stitch projects to finish and start in order of priority.  The Herbal Husband's Citizenship Sampler was top of the list.  He had given up hope that I would finish it.  He wouldn't let me start any other project.  I would try to start something and he would say, you aren't going to finish my sampler, are you?  Well, the top photo is what I had completed January 2 and the next photo is the day before his 24th anniversary finished and on the wall.  It meant everything to have it done!  So the design was done by our friend, John but The Herbal Husband and I made radical changes to the design or I might still be stitching it today!  We both love it which is what is most important!

Of course, the rest of the year I did nothing that was on my original list and I did a couple of special gifts for my friends.  I also have discovered that smalls are fun and fast even when they are all on 32 count fabric.  My magnifying light to the rescue!  It has become my new favorite to stitch on.  Facebook has hooked me up with some fabulous new designers!  A blessing but it has added exponentially to my stash box!

The gift to my mother was designed in a cross-stitch pattern by The Herbal Husband and stitched by me as a surprise.  She thought it was a nightgown.  It was one of the best surprises ever!  I am hoping that The Herbal Husband will find some time this winter to pattern our house so I can stitch it.  The last couple of photos were a surprise for me.  In the Fall 2016 Trends & Traditions magazine from Colonial Williamsburg, they highlighted a stitcher who has a collection of 50 plus designs from Williamsburg.  So I wrote a letter and shared my favorite design with the editor.  Never heard another thing until I opened up the latest magazine and was surprised to find my letter and design in the Letters to the Editor.  They were listening!  So I am going to take time to stitch and take an inventory!

I will share with you tomorrow the herbal review of 2016 and moving forward into 2017!  We had a green Christmas this year, but there were no travel headaches.  We have snow on the ground again.  So the banner photo is not too far off!  Hope you had a fabulous holiday!  The end of the year is near!  Can't believe it!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Potpourri and Spice Mini Wreaths Recipes and Photos!

Really You Have What It Takes To Do These Wreaths!
Bought This Lavender Potpourri for Less than $3 at T.J.Maxx!

I Have Been Using This Glue Forever!
Don't Forget A Spatula or Something to Get The Wreaths Out!

Just Hit the Heck Out of the Cinnamon Sticks and Nutmeg!
One Bag of Potpourri Makes Three Wreaths in Two Recipes and Two Recipes of Spices Makes Four Wreaths!

This Wreath is Ready to Jump Out of the Mold, But Don't Forget to Release the Middle Part!
So Just Like Goldilocks, We Have a Big, Medium and Small Choice!

The Spice Wreaths Are Still Pretty Wet!
So if you remember back to Wednesday's post, I showed you my very favorite Christmas book by Marge Clark.
In case you missed here it is again.  I am in the habit this time of year of trying to come up with something new and different that has an herbal theme and Marge (RIP) Clark has never disappointed me whether in recipes for cooking or crafting.  I wrote about it for Herb Companion now Mother Earth Living five years ago!  Here is the link again.  It is called My Favorite Christmas Thyme Book and Spice Wreaths: Part 2 

Just check out the link to make sure I didn't forget to tell you something important!  So here is what I did.

1.  I used the $2.99 bags of potpourri that I found in T.J. Maxx that had been laying around.  The prettier the potpourri the better.

2.  Marge talks about using a donut cutter which I didn't have, but I thought my mom's jello molds that she used in her bridge club days would do.  I think they work perfectly!  Again she talked about 2-1/2" to 3" for the molds and mine were 3-1/2".

3.  I lined my surface with wax paper.  It seemed to work best for me.

4.  THIS STEP IS MANDATORY FOR BOTH KINDS OF WREATHS:  You must use a cooking spray or butter or margarine to oil the molds.  That will ensure once the wreath is done and after six hours or an overnight of drying, you can unmold it easily.

5.  Then take a cottage cheese carton (I use two 24 oz. cartons, one for each kind.)  Mix a tablespoon of water and white glue together.  As you can see I use Elmer's.  You can use whatever kind of glue you like.  The white glue does dry clear in the end so don't worry if it is white when you unmold them.

6.  Add a cup of potpourri or spices (I will give you my mixture of spices that I used later.) to the glue/water mix and mix with a plastic iced tea spoon.  I like that because it gets down into the mixture and mixes it up and it is easy to clean.

7.  Then pack your molds with the potpourri or spice mixture pressing down as you go around the mold and if there is glue left in the bottom of the carton, pour it around the top of the mixture in the mold.

8.  Let them stand for six hours at a minimum and preferably overnight.

9.  Next day, take a butter knife or baby spatula and carefully go around both inside and outside of the mold to release it and turn it out on the wax paper to dry for a couple more days, turning them every so often and then use essential oil for the potpourri wreaths because the glue will take away some of its scent.  The potpourri ones I made have lavender and rose.  So I will either use lavender or rose scent to enhance them.  And of course ribbon.  I will show you the finished products as soon as they are dry!

FOR THE SPICE MIXTURE:  I used 1/4 cup each of whole cloves and allspice and 3 cinnamon sticks and 3 nutmegs put in a freezer bag and hit with a hammer until they are smashed to your satisfaction, along with an additional teaspoon of cinnamon.  It gives you about one cup of spices that you mix with the glue/water mix that goes into two molds or more if you use a smaller mold.

So I will show you the finished products when done later this week.  I have wired ribbon that I use on the potpourri wreaths and I usually use a gold ribbon for the spice ones.  So Christmas is a week away!  Just ridiculous how time is flying by!  Our weather went from the teens yesterday morning or maybe it was the 20's and an ice storm (about 1/4" on my car) to 60 degrees last night at 11 PM!  And today we are going back into the deep freeze briefly.  After completely melting away, the ice is a thin coat on my car!  That's winter in the 'Burgh!  Hope you are having a fun time whatever you are doing.  Talk to you tomorrow!  

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A Sunny Snowy Herb Garden and Why Snow is Important!

A Beautiful Day in the Herb Garden!
As I have mentioned lots of times the 'Burgh is a pretty gray place in the winter.  This is the second really blue sky day we have had since cold temperatures have set in.  I really love snow in the winter for the insulation factor it gives the herb garden.  For when we have cold winds which will come maybe as soon as tomorrow, the snow covers the plants and protects them from those winds.

We have put an additional special covering on the lemon verbena that is in the ground this year.  I hope that it insulates the plant enough that it will come back in the spring.  We shall see!  Going to be working on some decorative wreaths with old potpourri and spices.  The recipes if you can't wait are on the right hand side at the top of the column.  I just love Marge Clark and her Christmas book is one of my favorites.

Lots of Great Menus for Various Holiday Meals and Crafts!
So hope you are having a great day.  Stay warm if you are going to be in the northern half of the U.S. starting tomorrow!  It is going to be nippy the next few days!  Talk to you tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

And The Winner Is. . .!

The Old Cheese Making Basket Works Its Magic!
The winner has come forward and claimed her box!  Drum roll please!  The winner of the herbal mystery box for this year is:

                                                      PEGGY (RICCIO)

I added Peggy's last name because I had another PeggyR in the hunt.  Hope you are watching and listening for this announcement.  Please e-mail me as soon as you can with your name and address and I will try to contact you through your blog!  Congratulations!  I also want to say thank you to all who took a chance on my little giveaway.  Your kind remarks are what keep me going and learning about herbs for you and with you!

Has been snowing since late morning here.  So we have snow cover again and the deep freeze is about to hit.  Hope you have had a wonderful day.  I will talk to you tomorrow. 

Down to the Wire, Herbally Speaking!

Our Christmas Tree Decked with Gingerbread Cookies!
Well, plans have changed and we are here putting the winner's box together!  So again you will have until 5:00 PM, Eastern Standard Time today to comment on my original post on my blog and on Facebook to be entered.  One entry per person please.  Then sometime before 6:00 PM, E.S.T., I will announce the winner!  So please stay tuned!  Snow is on the way here.  Sort of glad we had a cancellation!  Talk to you later on!

Monday, December 12, 2016

In My Haste, Herbally Speaking!

A Beautiful Rose Thorns and All!

Really beautiful bee balm Pressed!
A Lovely Rose Bud and Other Roses in Bloom!
Sometimes my haste makes for beautiful items, florally speaking!  As I was undoing my paper towel tower the other day, I came across the beautiful red rose with thorns, a couple of very complete bee balms pressed nicely and various roses, especially the blush colored one and I don't think I grew it!  Oops, senior moment!  The Herbal Husband may be able to remind me where it came from.  It is really senior times here!  He doesn't remember either! Oh, boy, we in big trouble! Hee! Hee!  But we're having fun!  Reviewing photos from earlier this year for my annual calendar and the blush rose was from my talk on Shakespeare's herbs and flowers!  Whew!

So I thought shadow box, but then I would have to spray them and they probably won't last too long even sprayed.  Then I thought about making an old-fashioned scrapbook as they did in Victorian times.  I just had a light bulb moment down in my work space.  I have a bunch of lavender leaves that have dried.  I am going to put those in a glass apothecary jar and place the pressed flowers along the edges of the jar and the lavender leaves will hold the pressed flowers in suspension.

Will Probably Move This Out of Direct Light!
A View From the Top!
 Actually like it a lot!  Lost a few petals and leaves when arranging, but I really like the look.  I had it in a smaller container, but it was too jammed in.  Sort of looks like a dried terrarium from Victorian times!  Never know what I am going to discover in my haste!

Going to be in the deep freeze by the end of the week.  We have lost our snow already.  Only one more day to enter my herbal mystery giveaway.  I am thinking we are going to leave it a mystery except to say there is jam and jelly coming to the lucky winner!  So if you want to leave a comment, click here or go to the upper right hand column of my home page to enter.  Remember 5:00 PM, EST, Tuesday, December 13, 2016 is the deadline.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Continuing the Potpourri Conversation and Getting Crazy with the Boxes!

The Work Table A Little More Cleaned Up!
Annual Mexican Sage Flowers to Add to the Potpourri!
Cuttings from This Year's Gardens!
And the Craziness That is This Time of the Year!
As I think I have mentioned, I always have a tower of paper towels on the herbal work table through the season.  I just clip and pile and sometimes I forget what I have clipped.  I try to write on the paper towel  what is drying but I don't always get very far.  So what happens then is that I just combine all of the leaves and flowers into a container and make potpourri.  I mainly let what is in the box plant wise, dictate what essential oil or fixative I use to give it fragrance.  And you should really use both fixative AND essential oil for long lasting appeal.  A fixative is orris root, sandalwood, frankincense and myrrh and others.  I had forgotten that sweet woodruff dried gives a hint of vanilla in your potpourri and is considered a fixative.

One of my Facebook, master gardener friends and landscape designer extraordinaire, Martha asked for my favorite combinations of materials and scents.  I am sort of boring or maybe traditional is a better word when it comes to potpourri.  I love all of the lemon scented herbs and calendula petals with lemon oil.  I love lavender, thyme, rosemary and rose together with either rose or lavender oil.  I just found a bunch of dried lemon eucalyptus in my herbal stash that smells like Murphy's Oil Soap and depending what else I put into that mix, I might use rosemary oil.  I love pine needles, cones and holly leaves and berries with sweet orange, cinnamon, clove OR pine essential oils.  

These next three ideas are from one of my favorite little booklets called Potpourri Recipes and Crafts by Pat Humphries and Bertha Reppert.  It may still be available from The Rosemary House in Mechanicsburg, PA.

Lemon verbena, lemon balm, lemon grass, lemon thyme, calendula petals that have lemon smells and yellow colors in the petals,  use lemon essential oil.

When you have a lot of rose petals, rose geranium leaves, use a spoonful of cinnamon or clove and rose geranium essential oil.

Lots of different mint leaves, dried red geranium flowers (or holly with berries my addition) with pine essential oil.

For Christmas several years ago, I wrote this post for Mother Earth Living called Simple Holiday Crafts with Herbs and in it described a Woody Seed Mix from Malcolm Hillier's book, Christmas.  It incorporated leaves and twigs and seed heads from plants and even gave it a Christmas feel with cedarwood, pine or cinnamon essential oils.  I am such a stickler for a recipe and having every ingredient, but it really doesn't need to be that difficult.  Use what you have.  It may not look like the photo in a book, but if it is pleasing to look at, it will work.

I also think Martha that as a landscape designer, you should look into the book, Potpourri Making by Margaret Roberts which includes lists of herbs to grow for potpourri but adds lists of climbers, trees and shrubs too.  Something some of your clients may appreciate.

These additional books are a beginning book from Storey Publishing Bulletin A-130 called Making Potpourri by Madeleine H. Siegler and a book on the history of both dry and moist potpourris from Ann Tucker Fettner called Potpourri, Incense and Other Fragrant Concoctions may be helpful to those of you just starting out or want the history.  All of the books described have very good and easy recipes for both dry and moist potpourris. 

Yesterday we had to get organized to start sending our Christmas boxes to our friends.  And getting presents like bay leaves jarred and labeled.  Picking out your jam and jellies for the winning reader's box and selecting various jams and jellies to go all over the U.S.  It is an overwhelming task for The Herbal Husband in packing everything, but I get so much joy out of giving what I make that it is worth it. 

So at this writing, we do have a dusting of snow in the 'Burgh.  I changed my banner photo to reflect the snowy landscape.  We are to have temperatures rising later today and snow will change to rain.  I guess a crazy mix later on.  We are almost at the end of my annual herbal giveaway.  If you would like to participate and you live in the U.S., you must place a comment on this link for the original post by Tuesday, December 13, 2016 at 5:00 P.M., Eastern Standard Time.  There is also a link at the upper right hand portion of my home page to find the original link.  The Herbal Husband said what do you have to blog about now, since the garden is done.  Well, I said to him I would really like to finish my 2016 Trip to England.  Only have four posts out of sixteen done, so will be doing those in the coming days.  Hope you are having a great Sunday.  I need to get upstairs and help with packing boxes!  Talk to you tomorrow! 

Friday, December 9, 2016

This Might Be in the Herbal Mystery Giveaway Box!

Ooh, Looks Like a Bit of Herbal Vinegar for the Winner!
One of the easiest and most festive gifts this time of year or anytime of the year is herbal vinegar.  I used to make a ton of flavors and lots.  Now I only make what I think I can use promptly, herbally speaking.  I'll keep the flavor a secret.  Maybe you have already guessed.  I would use herbal vinegar for, of course, salad dressings, but also they are used in stews and marinades and to deglaze a pan when you are making a sauce.  Here is a link to how easy it is to make herbal vinegar.  Hey I wrote a pretty great post about making herbal vinegar if I do say so myself!  One of my favorite salad dressing books with history on where the dressings came from is by Jim Long.  The Best Dressed Salad is available on his website, Long Creek Herbs.  (This book is just a suggestion.  Not part of the giveaway box.)

One of My Favorite Herbal Authors, Jim Long!
So winter temperatures have hit us and when you aren't used to them, they can bite!  At least there is no snow at the moment.  Hope you are having a great day.  I have a list a mile long to work on.  Soo don't forget if you are a U.S. reader and you are interested in the giveaway, please leave a comment here or on the right side of my homepage.  I will talk to you tomorrow!