Lovely thoughts flutter through your mind to hand craft all of your gifts this year. Just imagine it, Christmas music playing in the background, an area set aside for all your crafting gear (and not having to clear the dining room table for a meal!) …yes, it is nice to dream. Then there is the calendar flipping its days so fast it could make your head spin. Time is the rare commodity as holiday activities run away with it all.
Here are a few links to DIY gifts that look like you worked on for days but will take only a matter of hours from start to wrapping.
I have been watching the buzz on this book for a while and waiting for it to emerge into pages. I will honestly say that I thought it sounded fun, but was not really sure if it was a book I would go out and buy.
The title evokes images of an old movie set. The dark stone walls of a castle dungeon and distillery equipment steaming with fragrant concoctions…but I digress.
I am a fan of the author, Amy Stewart and have all of her previous books, so it might have been just a purchase as a fan and not necessarily of the subject matter.
This is not a tale of a curmudgeonly old botanist,who is more interested in pistils and stamens while imbibing too much.
The Drunken Botanist is much more fun. Who knew that walking into a liquor store would inspire a garden writer. Everything on the shelves is rooted in botanical history, from hops in beer to the nectar of Agave. The book is a historical exploration how plants return to us in another formulation. Herbs, grains, veggies, and exotic plants have for centuries given us medicine, remedies, food and flavorings this book gives you a look at the fermented side of plants.
Even if the study of liqueur isn’t your thing, the botanical journey is definitely worth the read. Cheers!
Amy’s garden, colorful and edible…or should I say drink-able! On right: peppers, celery, basil, strawberries, Calendula, cucumber, lemongrass….photo courtesy of Amy Stewart.
Go Local: If you are in Tacoma-check out our very own craft cocktail lounge. www.1022south.com
Free Book : I have a copy of The Drunken Botanist from Amy and am giving it away. NAME THAT PLANT! What Pacific Northwest native fern would you steep in water to create a bitter cocktail syrup that hints at a licorice-flavor mixed with orange water. Post a comment here, on Facebook or stop by Urban Garden Company in downtown Tacoma to drop off your answer. One of the correct answers will be drawn randomly. Hurry and answer by March 31st, the winner will be drawn April 1st.
For all gardeners, hope springs eternal and thinking about what we want to do in the garden feeds that hope that continually filters through the seasons to come. As we begin the new year, think more new inspirations rather than resolutions. Inspire to learn, do and create something new in the garden. Odds are it will be much more rewarding than dieting!
Take a Class: In the garden, learning never stops. Take a class on a garden subject that you have always wanted to learn. Resources are bountiful in the pacific northwest. Join me for some upcoming seminars at the Tacoma Home and Garden Show the last week in January, (www.otshows.com) January 26th, 2012 at noon: Landscaping with Herbs, Many herbs are overlooked for their texture and beauty that create fragrant hedges, mixed borders, container gardens and more. All sizes and styles of gardens come into play. Just imagine a French Provençal style garden with the purple haze of lavender or a Mediterranean garden with fragrant rosemary. Herb varieties can bring classic style and take the center stage in many designs. January 27th, 2012 at noon: Garden Design DIY, A beginners guide and creative approach to designing a garden. Practical tips to get the process going successfully. Don’t just create a landscape; plant a garden with texture, dimension and longevity. Make it yours. Easy ideas to incorporate the practical aspects to create the garden you have always dreamed of. Shortcuts to designing by using photographs and many more insider tips. January 28th at 3 pm: Garden Borders from Dull to Drama, How-to tips and ideas for editing existing mixed garden borders; easy ways to re-invent without having to completely re-do. Learn tricks of the trade and create fabulous mixed borders. Peel back the layers of plantings; discover what is missing and where to add puddles and pockets of color and texture and drama! Photos inspirations and step-by-step instruction to become your own designer.
Go Organic: Learn to tolerate a few weeds and nibbled leaves. Be good to the environment and use organic means of controlling pests and problems. Start with natural lawn care. It can be the biggest water hog and chemical demanding part of the garden. Learn how and practice management of an environmentally friendly yard. The experts are at Seattle Tilth! (www.seattletilth.org)
Take a Garden Tour: Visit gardens like Lakewold (www.lakewoldgardens.org ) or the Chase Garden (www.chasegarden.org) for inspiration of classic designs. Join the Northwest Perennial Alliance (www.northwestperennialalliance.org) and receive their open gardens book. This is an opportunity when local gardeners open their private spaces. Take notes and pictures, it is one of the best learning opportunities to see what grows well in this area and enjoy the peak season of gardens.
Plant Vegetables: Imagine tomatoes fresh off the vine and leaf lettuces from the garden. This season, find a sunny spot and plant some vegetables to enjoy what the garden can give back to you. Hit the seed racks this spring for lots of variety. Here is a short list of some of my favorite “go-to” suppliers Ed Hume Seeds (www.humeseeds.com) , Renee’s Garden (www.reneesgarden.com) and Territorial Seeds (www.territorialseed.com)
Plant Natives: In garden designing, I see more and more homeowners looking to eliminate native areas…such a shame. Many natives are desirable plants that are beautiful in landscape design, either as a backdrop to more “cultured” plantings, mingled in mixed beds and borders or creating a “finished edge” to the beginning of natural woodlands. Take time to learn more about natives and plant them. Local nursery with lots of info: Woodbrook Nursery (www.woodbrooknativeplantnursery.com)
Keep a garden calendar or journal: It can be as simple as an ordinary calendar. Write down something every day about the garden, it can be regarding the weather, a new bird sighting, the day something bloomed and any tasks done. It will be a valuable tool for seasons to come. Indulge in a new journal with the beautiful artistry of Jill Bliss (www.jillbliss.com)
Compost: Compost, Compost…every garden should have a compost bin! Basic compost info from Creative Gardener FYI makeyourowncompost
Mulch more, Weed less: Put your garden on a good organic mulch diet, the reward will be healthy garden soil. Mulch at least 3 to 4 inches to control weeds too. More from Creative Gardener FYI in defense of weeds2
Teach a child the Wonders of Gardening: whether your own, a grandchild, or volunteering at school, there is real joy in working with children in the garden. Seeing the simple act of planting through a child’s eyes will renew your viewpoint as well.
Visit the garden show: The perfect way to spend a February day is the Northwest Flower and Garden show in Seattle.(www.gardenshow.com). Nurseries have tickets on sale now…steal ideas from the gardens, shop the amazing booths and make your garden beautiful. Plan your weekend at the show and come and visit me Saturday February 11th on the DIY stage for one of my favorite subjects: Herbs!! The top multi-purpose herbs to grow in your garden this year.
Think Design: “The plain hard work that goes into an unplanned and non-descript garden might just as well go into a planned one.” (Summer 1953, George Avery Jr. the Brooklyn Botanic Garden). The garden design studio is moving to Tacoma! Join me for design sessions in my new space starting in February. Bring your photos and ideas and we will create! The new space will also include vintage garden books for sale from my amassed collection, herbs and favorite perennials, plus garden findings. It’s “All About the Garden”. Stay tuned for more information.
For the sweet tooth on your list, create a mini selection of herb-infused sugars.
Wrap up in a gift box and include a recipe book or cards sharing how to use them!
Use peppermint or spearmint leaves, rose-scented geranium (Pelargonium), lavender buds, rose petals, lemon verbena leaves, vanilla beans or ginger. All the following recipes become more flavorful as the fragrance infuses into the sugar. Use decorative glass jars that seal tight.
Herb leaf or flower petal sugar
Alternate a layer of sugar and the chosen herb until the jar is full. Allow to sit a few days before use to allow the flavor to infuse through the sugar.
3 cups sugar and 2 vanilla beans
Directions: Place sugar in a bowl. Using a sharp knife, cut vanilla beans in half, lengthwise. Scrape seeds from the pod into the sugar. Mix vanilla seeds and sugar to evenly distribute the seeds throughout the sugar. Strain sugar mixture through a fine mesh or cheesecloth into an airtight container. Halve vanilla pods crosswise, and submerge them in sugar.
3 or 4 small lemons and 2 cups sugar
Directions: Use the zest (the skin) from the lemons. Scrape as much of the white, bitter pith off as possible. Add zest to a food processor and grind with 1 cup of sugar until thoroughly mixed.
Transfer the mix to a medium bowl. Add remaining cup sugar, and toss until evenly mixed. Allow to dry before placing in a glass jar, by spreading the sugar mix on a cookie sheet at room temperature for about an hour or until dry.
In a food processor, whirl together one cup of sugar with a few chunks of candied/crystallized ginger.
Ideas for use:
-Rim the glass of a cocktail with lemon-infused sugar by running a fresh-cut lemon slice around the rim and dipping it in the sugar mix.
-Rose geranium sugar and other herbal sugars are perfect to sweeten tea or to sprinkle on the top of shortbread or scones.
-Use peppermint infused sugar in coffee, tea or hot toddy’s
-Sprinkle vanilla and ginger infused sugar on warm gingersnaps, fresh from the oven (see my favorite gingersnap recipe)
Wrap up Tea Time
Create a unique card to hold tea bags. Try this easy one sheet (scrapbook paper 12 x 12) folded accordion card,
how-to’s are here:
Gift Package with a tea cup, shortbread cookies, a jar of honey, and a personal sentiment, plus inspirations that slow the pace and relax with a cup of tea, like a good book.
Create unique blends to give
1 cup dried spearmint
Herbs Mixed With Indian or China Teas:
Create flavorful blends from purchased bulk teas. Mix a single herb with bulk tea such as Darjeeling, green or Earl Gray to create unique blends. The homegrown herb will enhance the tea with flavor and fragrance. Begin by mixing the tea 4 parts to 1 part of dried herb.
Combinations to try:
English lavender buds with Earl Gray
Spearmint with green tea
Bee balm with Darjeeling
Package hand-blended loose teas in small glassine bags.Seal and label with the flavor and instructions on how to brew.To use: 1 teaspoon of loose herbs per cup of hot water.
Copy this tea label or make your own. This beautiful frame was found at http://www.graphicsfairy.blogspot.com