Thursday, June 26, 2008

Herb Butter & A Tasha Tudor Giveaway

`Early this morning I stepped outside my kitchen door with a pair of scissors in hand and snipped a nice bunch of herbs.
Rosemary ~ Summer Savory ~ Parsley ~ Chives
This morning I am going to make some herb butter. After selecting my herbs I give them a good shake outside. Don't want any little critters in my butter, if ya know what I mean. Then into the sink for a good rinse & then onto paper towel to dry.
First I think I will make a parsley/chive butter. I start by mincing my herbs very fine. I love to chop herbs with a chef's knife. Have you ever seen Rachael or Giada or Ina chop herbs with a chef's knife? After watching them a time or two I couldn't wait to try their method. It looked like so much fun!! Well, after much practice I can mince those herbs in no time flat and I find it so relaxing - almost therapeutic. Okay, okay . . . it doesn't take much to amuse some of us ;-)

Next, to one stick of butter or margarine I add 2 - 3 teaspoons of minced herbs. Today I used 2 tsp. of parsley & 1 tsp. of chives.

Isn't that starting to look pretty?

I give it a gentle but thorough mix. I love those little green flecks of fresh flavor. This one will be so good on steamed vegetables, baked potatoes, boiled new potatoes or anything else you might want to try it on. That's the fun of making herb butter ~ use your imagination and do a little experimenting.

I am going to roll this one up in parchment paper. After rolling it into a log I put it into the refrigerator to harden up and then it can be sliced. If I don't plan to use it for awhile I put it into a freezer bag and freeze it.

Rosemary butter is the next one I will make this morning. I really like the flavor of rosemary. However, I know everybody doesn't feel the same as I do about it. Like my sister-in-law, for instance, she says it is like eating a Christmas tree.
Well, no matter how you feel about it, it's a good idea to mince the rosemary super fine and I only use 2 teaspoons of it as it is a strong flavor.
I especially like to eat this one on a really good piece of warm, crusty bread.

I put the rosemary butter into a flower mold and a small white dish. I bought the mold at our local botanical garden a few years ago. You put the butter into the mold, level it off, refrigerate until firm and then pull the sides away and voila ~ you have a beautiful flower. It's fun to make a few of these and put them on a pretty plate for a special occasion.
The white dish is one of four I found at the thrift shop last week. I wasn't sure what they were for, but thought they would work nicely for this purpose. I put a sprig of rosemary on top. It makes it look pretty and also offers a hint of the flavor of the butter.

The last butter I am making this morning is summer savory butter. I think that is such a pretty name for an herb. In fact I find a lot of herb names to be charming. You may know that summer savory is sometimes called "the green bean herb". It goes very well with lots of types of beans. I made this the same as the others. I added 2 teaspoons of finely minced summer savory to one stick of butter. I put it into 2 more of my thrift shop (gotta love those thrift shops) molds and added a sprig of the herb to the top. All ready to go get some farm fresh green beans now.

If you have never made herb butter before I hope you will give it a try.
Alright now, about that giveaway . . .
I learned from reading several other blogs that Tasha Tudor, a very talented artist, author and gardener passed away on June 18 at the age of 92. I do own a few of her books and have always loved her illustrations. Years ago I checked this book out of the library:

I absolutely adored the information in it and also adored the illustrations by Tasha Tudor.

I tried to buy my own copy, but couldn't find it anywhere because it was out of print. I never forgot about it & then a couple of years later I found a used copy in a book exchange store. I was thrilled to pieces.

Can you blame me - look at these sweet illustrations.

Well, about a year ago I found another copy in a thrift shop (I told you, you gotta love em). I knew I didn't need two copies, but how could I pass it up after knowing how hard the first one was to come by??

So I thought it would make me very happy to share with one of the many wonderful ladies in blogland. This will be my first giveaway. If you like vegetable and/or herb gardening and like Tasha Tudor you will love this book.
If you leave a comment on this post only I will choose one name and that person will be the winner. I will choose the winner on Sunday, July 6th. So, you have until Saturday the 5th at midnight to enter. If you don't have a blog, please leave your e-mail address so I can contact you. Good luck.
I am leaving in the morning to go somewhere special ~ to celebrate something special ;-). Be back in a few days.
Hope you are enjoying lots of summer fun,

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Perfect Day (?)

We have been having a heat wave here for quite a while, but the weather man told me last night that today would be a bit cooler. Hooray!! A perfect day to make a glass of lemonade and take my book out to the front porch and enjoy the sights & sounds of Summer.

Just before I sat down I (thank heavens) took a look at the chair. Here is what I saw.

Ughh & double ugghh!! Can't stand spiders. When I looked around a bit more I noticed that he and most of his extended family had taken up residence on my porch during the heat wave. Well, I certainly can't enjoy my book with all of these creatures lurking about so it's off I go to fetch my extend-a-pole cobweb duster. Dust, dust, stomp, stomp. There ~ that's better. Now let's try again.

Oh, what's this? Oh yes, the rest of the impatiens that never made it into that pot before the heat wave began. I did manage to dump water on them a few times in the past few weeks.

Well, now I certainly won't be able to concentrate on my book knowing that there are impatiens nearby struggling to stay alive. Okey dokey, off to the garage for the trowel & watering can. Plant, plant, water, water. Much better. I think now I'm set. Take a seat ~ just about ready to open the book ~ oh my gosh are these chairs and the porch railing ever dirty. Inner voice ~ try to forget about it and just read. I tried, but sorry the grit & grime was preoccupying my thoughts. Sooo, off to the garage again for this:

Wash, wash, scrub, scrub, rinse, rinse. Geez it's getting hot out here. I thought the heatwave was over. Into the house for ice water. Back outside. Wash, scrub & rinse some more. Into the house to sit in the A/C for awhile. Recover. Back outside to put away cleaning tools, trowel, potting soil and hose.

Ah, yes. . . I think I'm done.

Time to enjoy that sweet raspberry lemonade.

It was all worth it. On this first day of Summer we are ready to enjoy the porch.

Monday, June 16, 2008

~ A Story of Human Kindness ~

One morning last month I was feeling completely exhausted - emotionally & physically. I had returned home very late the night before from a trip and had spent most of the night tossing & turning. You know one of those nights where you just can't turn it off. It seemed like the only thing I could muster up energy for was sitting in front of the computer reading blogs and drinking my coffee. I had just spent a few days with my Mom. I have always been very close to her and love her dearly. So you may be wondering why I found it so stressful to visit her. Well, she has been living for the past several years of her life with Alzheimer's disease. It has gotten pretty advanced now and even though I had just seen her a few months ago it is always kind of a shock to see how much further she has declined and what a struggle life has become for her. Despite all of the sadness, we had a good visit. However, even though I know I did everything I could to help her while I was there it is hard not to feel helpless with this disease.

So, while searching blogs that morning I happened upon a post on Debra K's blog, The Bunnies' Bungalow ( I feel like at this point I should have made this a link to Debra's blog, but being a new blogger I have no idea how to do that ~ anybody care to fill me in I would welcome the information). Debra's Mom also has Alzheimer's and in her post she showed some of the books and a DVD that have been helpful to her in their journey. She so kindly offered to send copies to anybody who requested them. I must say in the place I was in that morning I felt like I could use all of them. However, I felt a little strange to ask someone I had never met to send me something. So, I left a comment for Debra & asked her which resource she felt had helped her the most. She responded back to me with the name of the one she felt was the most helpful and offered to send it to me if I sent her my address. I did send my address & still felt a little funny about expecting this from a "stranger" so I asked her to tell me how much the book cost & I would send her a check.

This past weekend on Saturday night I just hung up from a conference call with my brother & sister. We had spent over an hour discussing the next move we need to make with our Mom. We all know it is time for her to move into an assisted living facility. Like is so often the case in these matters there are many things to take into consideration and we all want to make it as smooth as possible for her, but we know she is no longer able to make decisions for herself. I hung up from the call feeling emotionally drained once again.

Right at that very moment my son came into the room and handed me this:

I couldn't even imagine who had sent me a package until I saw Debra's name in the corner. I thought the package seemed awfully thick for one book. When I opened it I discovered that she had sent me all 3 books and the DVD. Also included was a very sweet & touching handwritten note and the heart with the beautiful sentiment (see 1st picture) tucked inside.

Words cannot express how touched I am by Debra's kindness. When my son saw what was in the package he asked who sent it. After I told him who it was from he said "Wow, there really are a lot of nice people in this world, aren't there?" I think we both had a lump in our throats.

I have placed Debra's gift in one of my favorite baskets and put it in my favorite reading chair. I am planning to find some time every day in the early morning to read these books and to pray for my Mom and Debra's Mom and give thanks to God for the blessing of human kindness. And Debra, if you are reading this, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Come into the garden . . . my flowers would like to meet you

Come with me for a little stroll and let's see what is blooming in the garden today . . .

~Daisies ~

~ Calla Lily ~

Hmmm . . . somebunny thinks she is hiding here. I hope she isn't planning to eat these like she has eaten some of my other flowers. Ahem!!

~ Lantana ~

One of the best performers in our drought conditions.

~ Aucuba ~

I love the green and yellow foliage. This one is called "Mr. Goldstrike".

~ Black Eyed Susan ~

~ A magnolia bud ~

~ Starting to unfurl ~

This plant with it's gorgeous glossy foliage and breathtakingly beautiful blossoms is awesome. Mine is a smaller version called "Little Gem" but I have seen huge ones here that amaze me no matter how many times I see them.

~ Hydrangea ~

Step into my herb garden. It's not big, but it has all the herbs I use in cooking and it's right outside my kitchen door so it is convenient.

~ Basil, Lemon Balm & Summer Savory ~

Our climate is very conducive to growing rosemary. It grows profusely and is available for cutting all year long.

Thank you so much for touring my garden today. It was a pleasure to have you. I have been really enjoying reading about what's blooming on some of your blogs. It is so interesting to see the different things that grow in backyards across our great country.

Remember today is Flag Day ~ get out your flag and fly it proudly. Whatever your plans include for this weekend, I hope you enjoy them ****

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The heart of my home . . .


Time to rise & shine.

Would you care for a cup of coffee? A little cream & sugar?

My husband won't touch the stuff, but the last thing he does at night is set up my coffee on a timer to go off in the morning. Just a small thing, but so sweet of him. I'll have to remember that on Father's Day ; - )

Ever since I can remember I wanted a yellow kitchen with the sun shining through the windows in the morning. Seemed like such a bright & sunny way to start the day.

We have a lot of days in North Carolina where the sky is a beautiful shade of blue. They call it Carolina Blue. It goes especially well with yellow.

Kitchen ~ the heart of home

So much time is spent here planning meals, organizing recipes, writing snail mail and even paying bills : - (

A refreshing glass of ice tea with a yellow lemon and a sprig of mint helps make the tasks more enjoyable especially in this heat we have been having .

Hmm, I wonder what I should make for dinner tonight?

Baking is something I especially enjoy doing.

I find it very relaxing to bake . . . cookies, brownies, cakes, pies. Yum!!

Is there a more homey smell than something wonderful baking in the oven?

Speaking of baking - it has been far too long since we have had a homemade goody in this house and I have a new brownie recipe I've been wanting to try . . . So, I guess I'm off to do a little baking.

If you have been baking recently, let me hear about it. I always love to try new recipes.

Once I get this blogging down pat I will even start sharing recipes with you.