Thursday, September 30, 2010

A cuppa tea + a basket-o-knitting = happiness.

My latest little night-time ritual includes a beautiful mug of tea with honey, and something involving yarn or threads - but lately it's knitting.

Sometimes there are so many varieties of tea to choose from, I don't know which way to drink! But lately, I've been hooked on Celestial Seasonings honey vanilla chamomile. Oh my goodness - it's amazingly good. I've been drinking it so often, I looked up some of the health benefits of chamomile tea--also amazing. Chamomile tea can help everything from sleep disorders and anxiety to muscle twitches and cramps! In the garden, it's a perennial.

Of course, I then had to research the health benefits of knitting. Bennies from clicking your sticks include: reducing high blood pressure, relieving stress, keeping arthritic hands limber, a workout for your aging brain, increasing self-esteem, and good for recovery from surgery to help keep patients relaxed and restful. Wow. My night-time ritual rocks! So tea and knitting it is! If I add a soak in a tub full of lavender water, it could be a real spa night.

My daughter and I have several cute and colorful tea pots that have the strainer basket built-in--and we love making "real" tea, using the actual tea leaves without the bag. Therefore, the next tea experiment is going to involve the lovely lemon thyme in my garden. It is rampant and fragrant, so I'm going to try a little lemon thyme tea with honey, steeping the fresh leaves. It is thought to be good for the throat, your singing voice, and helps prevent indigestion. I'll let you know how it goes.

Eat, write, dream and stitch happy!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Baby Basil and Patch-Happy Knitting

I have been as scattered as the basil plants in my garden! September has been a whirlwind with my writing projects, committees I'm on, my family's busy schedule, homecoming! and I even walked/ran in my first 5k! But I've been having fun, not a dull moment. And if there is a dull moment, lately, I tend to pour some potting soil into a pot, and plant basil seeds.

My goal: get some basil plants going that I can bring in on the greenhouse and use this winter--even if I'm just throwing together some turkey, tomato and basil pasta, one of our favorite quick meals.

I planted the latest pots of basil a couple of weeks ago. I throw a ton of seeds into one big pot. When the basil is showing a few leaves, I separate out some of the hearty seedlings into separate pots. It was a sunny day when I did this, and, as always, gardening is totally therapeutic for me. So when I had several little pots planted, I weeded out the more frail plants, and planted several seedlings back into the big pot. 

Basil loves warm weather. So when it dips below 50 degrees, the plants could easily turn black - not good! Keep your basil warm on a sunporch, or in a sunny window. In the garden, basil is the companion of tomatoes, just like in the kitchen. That's why, all summer long, I scattered seeds all around the tomato plants--and they are still producing hearty basils. I'm not looking forward to seeing them go!

Saturday morning, I got up early (for my first 5k!) and wandered out to the garden to find the most crisp, green, gorgeous showing of basil, everywhere. 

It's getting cooler now, and I'm going to start going crazy with the last weeks of my basil bouquets. When it comes to cooking, beyond pesto, there are plenty of dishes that welcome a sprinkle of fresh-snipped basil--especially pastas and breads. Basil, however, does not like to be cooked into a dish--garnish freely after it comes off the stove or out of the oven. That sprinkle of fresh basil brings such an aromatic fresh flavor to dishes--no wonder Italian sailors, long ago, created pesto with basil to keep their diets green! I'm going to keep nurturing my seedlings along, and see if I can get some hearty plants to help me sail through the cold months.

In the meantime, I'm also nurturing along my simple little patch-happy knitting project. I just wanted to sew together some patches for a cute little wall hanging. No big deal, right? So what is hanging me up on this? I can only hope I'll finish it soon. (My cats keep batting the patches around--is this a hint?) My daughter and I had a nice movie-and-knitting session yesterday, but I found myself wanting to work on my lap blanket, which I started last year with soft, baby blanket yarn. I just hope as we wind up September, I'll be a little more focused in October! I'm also working on scripts, and bringing the novel back out. Here we go!

Eat, write, dream, and stitch happy this fall!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

The rosemary is luscious right now. I usually buy my rosemary plants at Christmas-time, of all seasons, because they sell them shaped like little Christmas trees. I've gotten the last two big rambling rosemary's for just $10 each. Then I keep them on my sunporch and they flourish all winter. In the summer, I don't plant them into the garden anymore (they are tender perennials) but I just move them onto the deck. The fragrance of a rosemary plant actually gives you an energy boost - so I love them! I cook with rosemary in chicken, breads, and of course potatoes.
My rosemary roasted potato recipe is pretty easy:
Ingredients: 4 to 6 medium to large potatoes; 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, two garlic gloves peeled and chopped, Italian 4-blend cheese (a couple of handfuls), couple of drizzles of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Peel and chop potatoes. Toss them right into your casserole dish or baking pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle on the rosemary, garlic, salt/pepper, and Italian cheese. Toss it together and bake at 400 degrees for about 40 to 50 minutes (this will depend on how many potatoes you have) or until sizzling and browning to a golden roast.
 My family gets really excited about these potatoes. I think it's the Goldilocks seasoning combination of rosemary and garlic, plus the Italian 4-cheese blend of aged provolone-asiago-parmesan-romano that makes it all just right.
 And amazingly...they heat up well the next day!

I serve these potatoes with just about anything, but this time of year we love roasted potatoes with grilled chicken, burgers, pork chops or steak. It's nice just to toss them together and throw in the oven while the grill is going.
When you always have a rosemary plant handy, you can toss together rosemary roasted potatoes any time of year. I highly suggest finding a fragrant, delicious rosemary plant this December! I can't imagine my roast turkey without plenty of rosemary to stuff in it. Yum!

Whether you're creating in the kitchen, on the computer, or at the sewing machine, you're growing.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dining Room Dreaming and Stitching

It's was a huge bolt of fabric, purchased a couple of summers ago on a trip to North Carolina, and it demanded to be stitched into things.

The latest project all started when I was dreaming of my perfect, cushiony, gorgeous fabric chairs that will someday gather around a new farm table for the dining room. Sadly, the fabric chairs are not high on the list of things to be purchased at our house. 

In the meantime, the bolt of fabric, my Monster in a Box, (from a monologue I once attended with Spalding Gray talking about his out-of-control novel) promised to cover the whole issue--every sad little dining chair that I had tired of. So I took off all the old seat cushions with their outdated little birdhouses, and brought them back to life. No pattern - after washing all eight of them I simply laid them on top of the fabric and cut around them! I sewed in wide satin ribbon for the ties and made matching pillows to go with them too.
So happy with the result, I did the same thing for a little folding chair with some of my bright, happy leftover topiary fabric. I didn't work on this solid, but an afternoon here and there, and pretty soon I had recovered chairs, and a new attitude about fine dining.

I have to mention, that when I am tearing it up at my sewing table, my little cat Minnie has a lot to say about it! She really enjoys all the action around the house and is always ready to lend a paw.

Now it's back to some writing. I have a couple of script collections and a one-act still being considered by publishers, and my full-length play is in the process of becoming a staged reading this September or October--we are casting it and are very excited about this next step in its journey. I feel like it is my baby...these characters have only lived in my head for the past three years and mama needs to let go, but almost doesn't want to! However, I am all ready to start a new play! But I'm feeling the pull to get back to my one and only novel...finish it...and do the work to write the synopsis, outline, and the necessary query letters (that was kind of Mrs. O'Hara)--or even consider the new wide world of self-publishing. We'll see. The dream lives as I munch on a turkey and provolone wrap and drink diet citrus green tea!

Stitch happy!