Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My life is beginning to sound like the movie "Ground Hog Day".
The snow has now filled up our whole yard. The gate to the back yard is not easy to open.

Nor are the shed doors.

The snow drifts are getting higher and higher. The temperatures remain in the single digits.

But that doesn't stop the grand kids from playing outside, snowboarding and basketball?!

I go to work, come home make dinner, sit by the fire and quilt.

Right now I'm working on white birch leaves.

It's the perfect way to spend the winter.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Herb of the Year

Last night was my Herb Society meeting, this year we will be studying the different types of Artemisia.
I'll share with you a few things I learned while researching this plant.

Artemisia offers both striking foliage, gourmet flavor in the kitchen and a wonderful fragrance.
Silver Queen, Sweet Annie, and Mug wort are a few types used in dried wreaths and arrangements.
Sweet Annie is an annual  but if you plant it once, it always comes back somewhere in your garden -even years later. It is very fragrant. If you brush by it and the essential oil are released, it is like no other plant in your garden.

One of the best know Artemisia is French Tarragon. With a slightly sweet anise flavor, it is a must for gourmet cooks.
There is also a Russian variety which has coarser growth and a stronger flavor.  Artemisia is a plant which rarely produces seed. It is multiplied by cuttings or root division. All seeds marked Tarragon are the Russian form.

The herb goes well with chicken, pork, green beans and root vegetables. It is also useful to flavor herbal vinegars.
I made a pot of chicken vegetable soup for the members to try with tarragon.

We also had a white bean chili with fresh cilantro and salsa.

My friend from Mexico brought Mexican hot cocoa.

One member brought homemade herb bread.

Back home last weekend I made a new soup recipe. I used hot Italian turkey sausage. Taking it out of its casing and browning it with onion and garlic. Next adding chicken broth & diced potatoes, cooking until the potatoes were soft. At the end I added the chopped up kale and fresh mushrooms and cooked until the kale was soft. Don't overcook.

This is the most wonderful soup.

I also tried making kale chips. Washed and dried the kale, chopping it up into 1-2 inch pieces. sprinkle on olive oil, salt, pepper and I also used a little red pepper.

Bake in a 275 degree oven for 20 minutes, then mix around and bake another 20 minutes or so.
They turned out really good, crunchy then sort of melt in your mouth.

I had pumpkin left in the freezer from last fall so I also baked two pumpkin pies.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

How I'm Spending my long Winter Evenings

I bought this fun jar at a second hand shop, I don't thinks it's old but I love the "rusty" key top.
Filled with dried coreopsis the key keeps the color magic safe inside.

Lovely on the piano.

The snow keeps coming and coming. This was my yard the during the last few weeks,
then a January thaw came for a bit but now it's gone and the cold and snow are back.

My garden pots, bird feeder and trees had mushroom tops,

our shed too.

View of our back yard from my studio,

It was below zero most mornings,

the studio windows were beautifully etched by Jack Frost.

On January 1st while watching the Rose Parade I began faithly hand-quilting on my wool quilt. With the quilt wrapped around me while stitching there is no better way to hibernate during our cold winter evenings. I've began calling her "Mother Nature's Sunshine Prints".

I think you all know about Eco-printing from India Flint's prophet-of-bloom.blogspot.com first book Eco-Colour. Now she has a new book out called "stuff, steep & store". I just received mine and she's done it again with new ways to dye fabric using plants. Love it. Click on her blog to read more about the book and how to order your own.
Thank you India!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Woodland Wedding

My girlfriends' daughter was married last Friday, her wedding theme was Woodland. I helped make  the table arrangements,(another of my very favorite things to do).
Father of the bride cut a white birch tree off their property. Cut it up into 25 sections and hollowed them out.
We added plastic containers and floral foam in each, then filled them with greens from the Groom to be woods.


Many assorted greens and snow sprayed  white pine cones filled them.

We also made some with artificial greens so they could keep them long afterwards.
All the arrangements were finished with glass bead picks and lots of silver Ting-Ting.


The dad and son also cut and hollowed out 60 some branches into candle holders.

How cute are they!

Some went into little lanterns with greens.

My husband made two baskets for the flower girls to carry.

No glue, hand stitched.

The reception was in an old piano factory with great old brick walls.

This was the guest book at the entrance. A wonderful slab of wood, later to be made into a coffee table.

The bride and groom arriving.

Her dress was beautiful and the little jacket sparkled just like the snow.

My husband also made her a vase which she used to put her bouquet in.

In her bouquet she has vintage brooches and her grandmothers tiny vintage watch.

On the bar were birch straws (the paper coating).

The cake table was fill with antique and vintage glass cake stands. The cakes had edible crystal glitter on top looking like snow.

The arrangements on the tables with candles surrounding them.

Even prettier when the lights were turned down!

OK, this was New Years Eve with my family. When my husband and I were married in the 70's we received a fondue pot as a gift. (see the red one there, still heating).  We've spent many New Years Eve enjoying it, taking them with us as we traveled to the kids homes in Miami and Jacksonville, Florida, and back home again. We now have quite a collection of them I think 7. We always have steak and shrimp to dip in the hot peanut oil. Then one pot with Velvetta cheese for the kids and another with gourmet cheese for the adults which we dip steamed broccoli.  

Later that evening we melt chocolate chips and dip fresh strawberries.

I hope you have a great 2014!

  • Deb Hardman
  • Allie Aller
  • Jenny Bowker Cairo