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!