Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Herbs from Your Garden in a Bottle

Bottles and bottles of fresh-dried herbs for recipes, gifts, and just because they smell so good!

Here it is approaching late October--and many of my herbs in the garden still look gorgeous. It's hard just to surrender them to the first bite of frost--I always gather the last bouquets, but they won't get me through an herbless winter. Then, I saw a Facebook status from a friend who was drying his basil. Great idea! I dug out my old food dehydrator, and decided to try it.
Most herbs can be dried right on the stem--pretty easy.
I set the dehydrator at 105 degrees, filled the trays with fresh basil and parsley, and let it go!

About five hours later, the parsley was dried, brittle, yet  very green. You want it completely dry so there is no chance for nasty little bacteria to grow in your lovely herb bottle.

I found some tall pretty herb bottles I had bought years ago--embarrassed to say those herbs were still in them! So I emptied them, washed them clean, and dried them well. They were now ready to fill with my own fragrant, fresh-dried herbs.
I actually left the parsley tag on the parsley bottle. Once I crumbled in the dried parsley, using a funnel and skewer--it was bright, green and gorgeous! Exactly the result I wanted. In the meantime, the basil was taking a long time to dry--in the end, it was over eight hours when I finally called it a day for the basil. I didn't feel like it was as successful, but I did get some nice dry basil herbs out of it.
Last basket from the garden
Overall, I'm very happy with this idea, so next on my list is my English Thyme, Lemon Thyme, Garlic Chives, Sundried Tomatoes, and of course, more of that gorgeous flat leaf Parsley!

Eat, Write, Dream (of dried herbs), Stitch!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Some days, you have to get your priorities straight--yarn yoga first.

There are things to clean, a pile of papers on your desk, coupons to clip, your job, your messy closet, and shopping to do.  
Yet, all you can see, sitting quietly in the creative corner of your home is a basket of beautiful yarns. They are waiting, just waiting to be transformed into fabric--a fabric that might keep your neck warm, drape around your shoulders, wash your kitchen counters, or even become a tote bag.

Suddenly, life's little and big chores can be put on hold. You need the comfort of your kitties, a mug of tea, a Nancy Meyer movie, and the dependable little click-click-click of your knitting needles before you face another mess to clean or a long day at the office. Think of it as yarn yoga.
And speaking of dependable, one stitch that will never let you down is the stockinette stitch--my very favorite! It is simply knit a row, pearl a row. That's it! If you know how to knit, but are not quite comfortable with pearling, it is very easy to get used to it. Instead of slipping that right needle in the loop behind the left, like you do for the knit stitch, you point the right needle down into the loop in front of the left needle, wrap your yarn over it, and then slip it off. The stockinette stitch creates a nice, smooth knit fabric that is so perfect for so many creations.

Each end will have a knit-stitch border

I happen to love the 100% cotton Sugar and Cream yarns--and I always find them on sale, so with a whole basket of these yummy yarn planets, I started making what I call a Sugar-n-Cream-Crazy-Scarf. I threw caution to the wind and just started combining different color skeins.
I love self-striping yarns
I started off with the leftovers of a brown and tangerine striped skein, then used leftovers of a color-sprinkled skein, and then started in with the self-striping blues and greens--those may be my fave so far!

I guess I'm a weekend knitter, an evening knitter, and sometimes even a lunch-break knitter. While I currently have several UFO's lurking around my craft studio (Unfinished Objects)--I thought I could take a break from it all and whip up this fabulous crazy scarf for winter. It's going to take a couple of weeks now to finish, because I want to make it nice and wide and long. But I love making it! So therapeutic and calming.

I am now in the middle of a skein of red, white and pink Sugar and Cream. I'm trying to decide if I want the ends of the scarf to match--or if I really want to get crazy and introduce a whole new color. Decisions, decisions. But these are the decisions I love to make. Please enjoy a little yarn yoga for yourself.
To make your Sugar and Cream Crazy Scarf, you will need to cast on 45 stitches using size 7 needles for a nice wide, thick scarf. Knit about 10 rows, and then begin the stockinette stitch. You will need around 8 to 10 skeins of the Sugar and Cream yarn. The skeins are not that big--which is why you can find them on sale for around $1! Keep stitching in stockinette, and then knit the last 10 rows. With all this knitting, and your beautiful creation, you will be calm and cozy when the winter winds hit!

Joseph is hanging out on the greenhouse, while I Eat, Write, Dream, and Stitch!

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Basket of Happiness--from the garden

"Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day--like writing a poem or saying a prayer."
--Anne Morrow Lindbergh

"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls bloom."
--Marcel Proust

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Pinch of Inspiration

I absolutely love mornings--especially, like this weekend, when I can enjoy my coffee in the fresh, clean morning air. Ahhh. It's like being on vacation. And it would all be so perfect, except for the pinched nerve in my back. Not fun. It all started with a pulled hamstring (going too fast and apparently not warmed up enough for the treadmill) and when the exercises from the physical therapist didn't work, the pain traveled up!

Doctors can't seem to do much, and I don't like pain pills, so I stretch, use ice and heat, and take the occasional Aleve. 
But then I found an intriguing website: http://www.rebuildyourback.com/ and I love the user-friendly language and getting some education about what's really going on with my back, so I thought I'd share in case anyone has had similar problems. Plus, if you share this link on your blog, you can download one of their books free! Who knows how many writers, stitchers and crafters out there suffer from pinched nerves and back pain. We need all the helpful information we can get.

I exercise and stretch every day, so this is an unexpected issue--but, I'm getting on with my daily activities the best I can! I can still get up and go, so I do!

And besides my pinched nerve, I got another pinch recently, and it was a little pinch of inspiration. I love those! In a very bohemian-style store at the mall I found Russian doll coin purses. Precious! I love Russian dolls, but the embroidery, fabrics and trim on the little coin purse is gorgeous and has inspired me to do my own design. I can't believe this little coin purse was only $5! So I'm going to buy a few more to stow away as gifts.

Sweet little loop at the top and purple zipper
I'm thinking about creating a little Russian doll pillow, and little squares for a wall hanging too. We'll see how the pinched nerve holds up!

A box of flowers in my front yard--makes me happy and I forget all about back troubles! 
Eat, Write, Dream, Stitch!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Salsa Here a Stitch There...

I hope you are savoring every last moment and taste of summer. 
It has really gotten quite pleasant, after we (here in the Ozarks) weathered an extremely rainy May, then a few nice days, and then a complete plunge into days and days of 100-plus degree madness! I have to say, the tomato plants still did fairly well, but many of my squash varieties just didn't make it. For one, they didn't go in the ground early enough, and then the extreme early heat just did them in.
So, to make the best of it, I am savoring these last gorgeous days, and trying to make the goodness last by canning my salsa.

I especially love to preserve batches of my garden tomato salsa in these little fat specialty Ball jars--they are not only just too cute, but they are very pretty to serve the salsa in, and the wide mouth has plenty of room for chip dipping. If you'd like to try my recipe, you can find it here from last year's post. http://eatwritedreamstitch.blogspot.com/2010/07/dancing-with-tomatoes-salsa-making-and.html

My baby basils grew up!
There is still plenty to do in the garden. Along with the tomatoes, I have a few surviving cucumber and spaghetti squash plants, and a huge patch-o-basil for bruschettas, pasta dishes and plenty of pesto making. I feel quite spoiled right now, having all the fresh basil I could possibly want. Hmmm...I think that makes me the richest girl on the block! Love it, love it, love it!

My cutting flower garden is not as big as last year, but it is still providing me with a few fresh bouquets for the house every week--I couldn't ask for more.

Bouquet of the Day
I have been busy stitching, and was happy to come up with an embroidery design on a patch of fabric to frame some big cross-stitched hearts. Here are the hearts I stitched first.

And then I appliqued them onto a piece of soft white denim, and stitched up a whole new design to go around them.

This is going to be the centerpiece of the little cross-stitch quilt I am dreaming up as I go.
And sew it goes!

In the meantime, Minnie is waiting for her 6-o-clock kiss-on-the-lips!  
Who wouldn't want to kiss those lion lips!

Happy summer dreaming and stitching!

LOVE these jars!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Shopping Downtown

You can't be blue when you've had the perfect Saturday morning downtown. 

White mocha frappes at Bocha Mocha...shopping the most unique little stores with well-loved and handmade goodies...and then lunch at a quaint little place called Saint Michaels. I had the perfect burger. Perfect. No blueness here! All happiness. Especially when my daughter found a gorgeous satin cross-body made by a French lady. It will be her bag of choice for months!

"You can buy happiness...for a little while."

Eat, Write, Dream, Stitch, and Shop a Little.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Butterfly Love

"Love is like a butterfly, it goes where it pleases and it pleases wherever it goes."

You feel truly blessed when you are able to be up close and personal, every day, with a tribe of the most gorgeous butterflies. They float around my mailbox garden in the front, constantly, and flutter their way to my vegetable and cutting garden in the back yard. It has been so hot here, I must water every day, and I think they are starting to know me--they don't seem to mind my camera at all. In fact, this yellow angel gave me different poses!

I may decide to fry an egg on the sidewalk today, it is so Al Gorish hot! It is 106 degrees right now! But that doesn't mean I'm any less in love with summer--in spite of the heat, my late-to-ripen tomatoes, and suddenly busy schedule, I love it all. And, I've found some shortcuts.
When the pasta salad kits went on sale, AND I had coupons, I really stocked up, getting them for less than a dollar a box. Now usually, I make my own homemade pasta salad, but these are fun too once you doctor them up. For example, I took the classic mix, and instead of using oil, I used only half of the spice packet, lowfat ranch dressing (about half a cup), a few squirts of Kraft Green Goddess dressing (I adore that stuff) and added one big cucumber and baby carrots, sliced up, fresh tomatoes, tons of fresh snipped basil and fresh broccoli. It was very fast to make and delish! I would say there are more veggies in this than pasta, but that's the way I like it! Crumble some turkey bacon on top, and it's a lovely, lowfat meal.

Well, here I go, getting ready to stitch another heart panel for the cross-stitch-quilt-in-the-making. And of course, I'm sidetracked by a lovely idea for some hand-stitched tufted flat linen seat cushions. I wish I had a couple of more hands to stitch! Oh well, like my butterflies, I'll take it one flower at a time.

My garden bouquet--courtesy of the butterflies.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Cats and Quiches

"She (the cat) hasn't had her full ration of kisses-on-the-lips today...she had the half-past-six one in the garden, but she's missed tonight's."

So we've been busy gardening, kissing the cat, making zinnia bouquets, watching the tomatoes starting to turn, cleaning up my studio, and savoring every moment of summer, no matter how hot it is! We try to have our coffee early early these days--before the heat! I saw a little green-striped snake in the garden this morning! Yikes! We've named him "No-Feet."

Easy Spinach Quiche
Spinach quiche and roasted rosemary-garlic-and-parmesan potatoes made a perfect dinner one night. So easy. Buy the pie dough. Line your pie plate, and bake it for five or six minutes at 450 degrees. Mix three eggs and about a cup-and-a-half of milk, sprinkle in a bit of salt and pepper. Cook a few slices of turkey bacon, and chop up 1/4 cup sweet vedalia onion. Add onion to egg mixture. I use a bit of frozen spinach, thawed, and water squeezed out of it. Then pour egg mixture into hot pie shell, place a cup-and-a-half of shredded sharp cheddar cheese around, sprinkle in the crumbled bacon, sprinkle the spinach around and put the whole thing back in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 to 50 minutes until done in the center. Make two and have enough for breakfast the next morning! Most store-bought pie dough comes with two pie shells.

We've been making plenty of pasta salad too--just waiting for more of our tomatoes to turn! Hurry tomatoes!

More things I love about summer:
getting a tan
lots of flowers to put all over the house
morning sewing sessions on the deck
music outside
coffee outside
long, long days
going to bed at midnight
the farmer's market
the gigantic butterflies I saw in my garden today!
big fat bees
late-evening walks around the neighborhood
watching movies with my daughter
dinner at our favorite Mexican place (teeny tiny joint) with my hubby
pasta salad, potato salad, fresh salsa, tomato paninis
a braid in my hair
ankle bracelets
long flowy cotton skirts
my favorite sandals
the look of white gold on tanned skin
a little sun-kissed streak of blonde
the beach, the pool, long baths
Joseph on my mini ironing board--not exactly pressed for time.
thunderstorms that pop up out of nowhere--like right now, so I should post this!

Have happy summer dreams everyone!