Monday, August 31, 2009

The Fireworks Have Started!

Just because we have started the cooler temperatures in the daytime, doesn't mean that you can't have flowers in your garden.  One of my favorites this time of year is the good old goldenrod.  Don't sneeze please!  A lot of people think that goldenrod causes allergies and in fact it is ragweed that it the problem plant not goldenrod!  This one has a twist though or an explosion!  It's called 'Fireworks' goldenrod or Solidago rugosa. I started out with one clump and it has seeded gently throughout my front garden.  It is very easy to remove where you don't want it, but it is a good filler as well!  We are going to have a beautiful week in the 'Burgh.  Hope you are enjoying the weather wherever you may be!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

An Explosion of Sunflowers!

This is an explosion of sunflowers that happens just about this time each year.  I used to have the giant sunflowers in the back of our vegetable garden like wallpaper in a room.  I loved it!  I haven't been quite able to recreate it since.  The ones that you can see on the fence in various angles are stragglers from leftover seed packets.  We all have them.  One or two have made it through and not been disturbed by the wildlife.  The sunflowers in my herb garden this year have been much loved by the finches.  We are consistently coming down the driveway and chasing them away from the sunflowers there.  The sunflowers with the many petals are 'Teddy Bears' and the very tall clump of small sunflower type flowers are a native sunflower.  They are good if you need alot of flowers in a large area.  They swallow up spaces and other plants you may want to keep!  So be careful with those!  I don't know the botanical name, but they are one of 38 varieties of perennial sunflowers.  Hope you are enjoying sunflowers in your garden wherever you may be!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I Had a Special Day Yesterday!

Yes, yesterday was the day of my birth, 50 plus years ago!  The Herbal Husband always has a way of making my day a special one.  Here is the treat he made us at lunchtime.  It is called causa.  It is a bed of mashed potatoes made with olive oil and lemon and then tuna fish salad with mayo, onions, sliced black olives and herbs on top!  A home grown tomato, an egg, fresh parsley and a nasturtium to garnish.  His cooking is always made with love and care.  Especially when he is cooking for me!  I think I must have been Irish or Peruvian in another life, because potatoes are my favorite in any way, shape or form!

We then went to the movies to see "Taking Woodstock"  The movie was good, but what would have made it even better if the music from the concert had been in the background.  Unfortunately, it wasn't!  Then it was off to a late lunch, early dinner at P. F. Chang's China Bistro.  One of our favorite Chinese restaurants!  Just let me say that we finished our meal with the Great Wall of Chocolate!  The Herbal Husband couldn't believe that we actually finished it!  It was enough chocolate to last until next year!  They also have a fantastic dessert called "Banana Spring Rolls."  Actually that is my very favorite, but I thought the Herbal Husband would enjoy the chocolate dessert better.  I'll get my spring rolls next time!  All in all it was a wonderful birthday!  We also ran into a friend who is a very creative designer and artist.  He is also the designer of the Herbal Husband's citizenship sampler.  You can check out that post here.  John, it is getting close to be finished!  He has his designs on and I have added his link in my favorite herbal links and other good things.  So please check it out!  It is the first link called "Embellishments 4 Life."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

It's Travel Thursday--Pittsburgh Zoo!

We are lucky in Pittsburgh to have a great zoo.  One of the highlights of any zoo is the babies.  Here in Pittsburgh we are lucky to have two baby girl elephants.  This is a picture from last year and they are getting bigger and bigger each day.  The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is having a celebration for the elephants on Sunday, September 20, 2009 from 11 AM  to 3 PM.  So if you are in the Pittsburgh area, plan to join the elephants and celebrate with the biggest babies!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Too Many Tomatoes! Soup to the Rescue!

Sometimes in the afternoon I get a chance to sit down and watch one of my favorite chefs on The Food Network, Tyler Florence!  He is easy on the eyes and cooks very well as well!  A great combination!  I think I have the Latin version of Tyler!  Well, a close second!  The Herbal Husband was in a panic the other day about the numbers of tomatoes and I said , "Let's make Tyler's Roasted Tomato Soup recipe.  It looked simple and delicious.  It has HEAVY CREAM in it!"  The magic words for The Herbal Husband!  "Sounds great!" said The Herbal Husband.  The recipe calls for a mix of tomatoes,  bay leaves, butter,  onions, garlic, chicken stock and heavy cream even better for The Herbal Husband.  It turned out very well.  Roasted tomato soup even on a hot day is a great way to use your bounty of tomatoes!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"It's Just Amazing!"

Those are the words of The Herbal Husband the other evening when he saw this flowering tobacco plant Nicotiana sylvestris.  It is a cousin of the tobacco plant.  This particular plant is planted purposefully in between our arborvitae bushes to add a surprise.  It is an annual for us, but it can self sow very rampantly where you don't want it!  This plant is as tall as we are, 5'8"!  It is glorious and very smelly in the evening.  Someone asked if you could have one fragrant plant in the garden for season long fragrance, what would it be?  I told them no one plant has fragrance all season long.  It would have to be a series of plants for me, roses, jasmine, sweet peas and definitely, one would be the flowering tobacco plant!  What's your favorite fragrant plant?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Even He Didn't Help on Saturday!

Found this caterpillar trying to find a home in our home over the weekend. Because it is "wearing" black and gold, we thought it looked like a Steeler fan! It is actually a yellow based tussock moth caterpillar. They like milkweed among other plants. Here is a link to a site that has some wonderful pictures of all sorts of things including the tussock moth caterpillar. I'll let you explore the site because he has taken such amazing photos! Off to make tomato soup!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Sunday Surprise or Two!

We woke up to rain this morning. Supposed to mow the lawn. It's going to be like a field soon and the Township won't like that! As Scarlet always said, Tomorrow is another day for mowing your lawn! On a brighter note, I found our hardy hibiscus blooming as I was walking out in the front of our garden a couple of days ago. Hibiscus moscheutos or hardy hibiscus is also called swamp mallow. This cultivar is 'Lord Baltimore'. There also is 'Lady Baltimore'. It is the very last plant to come up in the spring so don't despair if you don't see it right away. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is the edible flower and is only hardy for people in Miami and Hawaii. We would have to take those inside for the winter and we have enough to take care of in the winter. Thank you very much! Here is a link that I found with various varieties of hardy hibiscuses. Hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

We Can Grow Plants Anywhere! Part 2!

This is getting ridiculous! This seedling is trying to grow in the stationary tub! I am sure that The Herbal Husband transplanted it to a pot to see what it might be! He thinks it's either a tomato or pepper. I'll let you know when we find out!

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Workhorse in the Garden!

This is one of my favorite perennials in the garden. Thought to be an herb because of its name, Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) is a wonderful perennial. Has a wonderful sagey smell and lovely lavender flowers that the pollinators love. This one is a cultivar called 'Little Spires'. I got this one because it doesn't taller than four feet. Having written that sentence, I break the four foot rule every day! It is a wonderful addition to any garden as long as your chives don't bury it! Hopefully, now that the garden has been dechived, it will flourish! Talk to you later!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

It's Travel Thursday--The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

When our friend was visiting in May, we took a day and drove up to Cleveland, Ohio to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. It is located on Lake Erie and it was a beautiful clear day in Cleveland, Ohio! The Herbal Husband and his friend loved the structure of the building by I. M. Pei. There are seven floors of exhibits, five movie theaters and interactive listening stations among other features. They are celebrating the life and music of Bruce Springsteen called "From Asbury Park to the Promised Land". Of course, for my readers over 50, you may remember a concert in Bethel, NY called Woodstock and there is an exhibit celebrating that event. There isn't much time to take the kids, but if you do get a chance, they would love it and so will you! P.S. Thanks to the Piccadilly ladies and Mitch for an enjoyable talk (I gave the talk) and (they did) lunch! A lot of fun!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

They are Just Going Crazy in a Good Way!

This was the nasturtiums from Holland that we planted in a container early on. Now they are just going crazy in a good way! Here is a picture from just now. Crazy in a really good way! Stay cool!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Guest Blogging for The Herb Companion Magazine!

This is my favorite herb in the world and I am sharing my story with readers of The Herb Companion magazine. Here is a link. Hope you enjoy it!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bountiful Tomato Harvest!

I will try to tell you what kinds of tomatoes you are seeing at the 12:00 o'clock position are the 'Large Cherry', the two big red ones, 'Jet Star' and 'Celebrity', the orange one is 'Old German', then 'Purple Russian' in the 7:00 o'clock position, 'Sungold' are the orange cherries and 'Matt's Wild Cherry' are the tiny red ones and last but not least at the 11:00 o'clock position a 'Green Zebra'. There are 'Oregon Giant' snow peas and purple beans that we don't know the variety, but once they are cooked they are green! Bummer!

I was at Gardenline this morning and the big topic of conversation was late blight of tomatoes! A real problem in this area. About 40 of 67 counties in Pennsylvania have it this year. You can learn more about late blight at this link from Penn State. We have been spraying chemicals. We try to be as organic as we can, but The Herbal Husband didn't want to lose his tomatoes this year! We listened to a Webinar from Rutgers University in New Jersey about late blight and they said that chemicals rather than a fungicide with copper were much better to protect from late blight. I figure I have been around over fifty years and I have ingested more than a little chemical, a little more won't hurt! Hope late blight hasn't damaged your tomatoes!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

An Update on the Herbal Patchwork! What do you think?

Well, after being guarded by the magic pinwheels, the birds seem to have found something else to bother! Finally! We have a few rogue plants that have to come out, but all in all it looks pretty good! I love the different colors of the sages. The light gray are the 'Nazareth' and the green ones are the 'Compact' ones. Here is a link to my other posting to see the difference. What do you think?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

If I'm Not Out in the Garden. . .

I might have missed 'Brother Cadfael' in bloom! This is a beautiful David Austin rose from England. I know, I know, I was whining about not being able to grow roses the other day, but this is an exception! I also read some of the Ellis Peters books about Brother Cadfael. I might go to the library and get some of those out again! Repeat bloomers especially roses are a great plant in the herbal garden. We finally are having summer in the 'Burgh! See you later! Hope you are staying cool where you are!

Friday, August 14, 2009

And The Winners Are!

The Herbal Husband drew the winner from the USA commentors and the winner is . . .
The International winner is. . .

I will email you both shortly to get your addresses. Congratulations to you both and I thank everyone for participating! We hope to have another great year of blogging!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Don't Forget! Anniversary Contest Ends Tonight!

Here are those lovely napkins if you haven't seen them before for our USA readers. Check out the link to August 7, 2009 and enter to win before Midnight tonight!

These are the cocktail napkins for our international readers. Please check out this link and enter! We want to make sure that everyone interested is entered. The winners will be announced tomorrow morning! Good luck!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My Favorite Climbing Rose!

I don't grow roses very well. Yet I still keep trying! This one is the Everblooming Cecile Brunner. It blooms from early summer through until frost. Most years it is neglected. This year some attention has been paid to it because of the groups we had touring. It is such a delicate flower but a real work horse of my garden. I wouldn't be without it! Don't forget to enter our contests! Check the August 7, 2009 posts!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Favorite Summer Sandwich! What's Yours?

Well, you are all thinking to yourselves she has finally gone over the edge! Green tomatoes and peanut butter! An heirloom 'Green Zebra' tomato so it is supposed to look this way. We have extra fiber bread so I think next time I may toast it. I was so excited that I just slapped on the peanut butter, place the tomato slices on the bread and I was in tomato and peanut butter heaven! By the way I use Jif Extra Chunky!

There is a back story with this post. I was a legal secretary for many years and the typewriter repairman (Yes, quills and ink were gone!) was fixing my machine at lunch. He asked what I was having and I said a peanut butter and tomato sandwich. He said, "You must be from Kittanning. My wife is from there and eats the same sandwich!" It was a little creepy and funny at the same time. Here is a picture of my hometown from a hillside above on a hot steamy day in July five years ago. Kittanning is the County Seat of Armstrong County and is situated along the Allegheny River. You can just make out the Courthouse in the distance!

I have to say the 'Green Zebra' tomato is my new favorite, but 'Early Girl' is my other favorite with peanut butter! I save the 'Cherokee Purple' tomatoes for a basil, feta cheese and tomato salad. 'Sungold' cherry tomatoes are my favorite cherry tomato with 'Matt's Wild Cherry' a very close second! So what is your favorite sandwich in the summer? Don't forget to enter our contests! Check the August 7, 2009 posts!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Like Little Soldiers at Attention!

The bathroom window has become the place to be to take aerial pictures of my herb garden. This particular day the finches were working frantically to get the sunflower seeds! They know exactly when to pounce and sometimes they are early and have to wait longer! Last night and this morning the majority of sunflowers were open and they just looked like they were at attention like soldiers. Too hot to work out in the garden even The Herbal Husband had to come in! Hope you are staying cool wherever you may be! Don't forget to enter our contests! Check the August 7, 2009 posts!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Day or Two of Apples!

We have an espaliered apple tree that is a 'Liberty'. The espalier has come undone and we have a massive tree that is producing apples. The good news! The bad news is is that I have to catch them as The Herbal Husband cuts them on the neighbor's side. Their dogs barking fiercely. I should have taken a video! It was chaos! Here is the pile of pruning apple tree. It looks bad at the moment, but hopefully early in the spring while dormant, we can get the espalier back! Our other apple tree is supposed to be a 'dwarf Granny Smith' but it was a giant instead. The Herbal Husband commented that we needed to take that tree out! It is full of disease and bad insects and needs to be shaped dramatically and sprayed. As my extension agent has said to me, "A chainsaw at ground level is its only hope!" You know it's bad when an extension agent tells you that! She really likes both of us! Really!

These are the 'Liberty' apples. They look nice, don't they? Well, these are their good sides. It's all in the staging! They may have even looked better were they in a basket and not on top of the washer with a Marshall's bag as a background! The Herbal Husband was a huge help cutting out the bad parts and getting them cut to cook down.

I put water enough so that it wouldn't scorch. We had about four quarts of apples, maybe five. At least quartered, but there were many little pieces. I added 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of cinnamon. It's chunky applesauce! I canned it last night. The finished product is a little less chunky. My first attempt at applesauce a few years ago was too runny and watery. This time it looks like marshmallows in the applesauce! It tastes great though and that's what's important! That fourth jar is a little thin as far as being full, but we will enjoy it! Hope you are preserving your harvest wherever you may be!

Don't forget to enter our contests! Check the August 7, 2009 posts!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Celebrate with Herbs and Edible Flowers!

We like to celebrate with food around this house! Who doesn't! We had The Herbal Husband's famous guacamole with nasturtium flowers yesterday. The flowers add a peppery kick to the guacamole! Then we topped off breakfast today with some lemon verbena bread! A fitting finish! In case you missed my favorite lemon verbena bread recipe before, here it is again.

It comes from the February/March, 1990 The Herb Companion magazine:

Lemon Verbena Bread

1 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup fresh lemon verbena leaves chopped
1-1/2 cup sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
Grated rind of 1 lemon
3/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Cream butter with verbena leaves in mixer or food processor. I use my food processor. Add sugar and beat well, then eggs, salt and remaining ingredients. Grease loaf pans: 1 large, 2 small or 4 minis and pour in batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 to 65 minutes. I usually bake it in one large pan. Bake until bread tests done with a toothpick or cake tester. Meanwhile, prepare glaze. (I usually don't use the glaze.) I'm giving it to you because every person's taste is different. Leave loaf in pan. While it is still hot, pour glaze over it and let sit several hours. Remove loaf from pan. Wrap in foil to ripen overnight before serving, or freeze immediately.

1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon verbena leaves, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon

Hope you enjoy it! Hope you are celebrating with family and friends! Don't forget to enter our herbal giveaways!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Celebrating a Year of Blogging!--Herbal Giveaway to USA Readers!!

A year has gone by and we had to bring out the noise makers to celebrate blogging about our wacky lives! I was inspired to start this journey from reading the blog by two of my favorite sisters (we aren't related) from The Rosemary House and Sweet Remembrances in Mechanicsburg, PA. They have a wonderful blog called Rosemary's Sampler. The Herbal Husband and I want to thank you for reading and commenting on our journey through our travels and gardens and day to day lives.

So to thank you we are going to give you a chance to win herbal napkins. For our USA readers, you have the chance to win a pack of 20 herbal luncheon (6-1/2" x 6-1/2") paper napkins. All you have to do is leave a comment with your contact e-mail information and USA in your comment. One comment per e-mail address please. You will have until Friday, August 14th at Midnight Eastern Daylight Time to enter. The winners will be announced after 10:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time on Friday, August 14th. Here are the napkins. Good Luck!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

It's Travel Thursday--A Home Town Adventure for the Family!

We are bird lovers in this house. I know for some of you who have kids, this time of year can be difficult to entertain them! It is almost school time! UGH! Sooo I have the perfect solution if you are in the Pittsburgh area, take them to the National Aviary! Here is The Herbal Husband feeding a dollar bill to Minni, the American crow. Smart bird! She takes it from you gently and puts it in the box for a good cause.

There are feedings for the lorikeets or lorries that will delight your kids and you. They are very noisy, but it is very interesting to feed them. For a nominal fee per cup, you and your kids can enjoy this activity.

This beautiful bird is the Victoria Crowned Pigeon. Named not for the car but for the Queen! It is from the country of New Guinea. I'm going to take my best friend's daughter there soon before she starts school. Hope you get a chance to go! It is a fun education for both you and them! Check back tomorrow for some exciting news!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Nasturtiums in Bloom! Finally!

This is a clump of nasturtiums that we grew from seeds we bought in Holland several years ago. It is finally blooming wildly. I harvested 18 flowers from this clump yesterday to eat with The Herbal Husband's guacamole. Delicious! Remember you can eat both leaves and flowers that give a salad a peppery taste. This flower and variegated leaf below is a variety called 'Alaska'. A book called Edible Flowers: From Garden to Palate by Cathy Wilkinson Barash is my favorite book on edible flowers. You also need to remember that not all flowers are edible and Ms. Barash addresses both edible and non-edible flowers in her book. That's why it's my favorite. You can find it at Book Finder or favorite used book search engine.