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Archive for August, 2009

postheadericon Manic Monday

Six o’clock already
I was just in the middle of a dream,
I was kissing Valentino
By a crystal blue Italian stream…….

Well, maybe not Valentino (perhaps Clive Owen or of course, my beloved husband) and not an Italian stream as much as a Scottish loch?

The above lyrics from the Bangles’ song “Manic Monday” are fitting today, except that I’ve been up since about 3:30 – major insomnia has hit and I can’t get back to my good dreams. My mind is spinning.

The hubby has scheduled us to look at a minimum of four houses today, it will probably be closer to six by the time we’re done. I HATE HOUSE HUNTING. It used to be fun to go to open houses and get ideas of what we’d like when we finally build our own place. We’d come home and jot down features that we want and make notes on stuff we don’t. That joy is now gone since we are fast approaching a deadline for the new owners to take over this one.

We were going to go ahead and buy a place instead of renting again. But with everything being up in the air with my mom’s health and my dad now talking about selling the ranch, we’re sorta in limbo. So we decided to rent again for at least the next 6 months to a year.

We made the mistake of finding the PERFECT property on our first foray into serious home shopping. It fit all of our needs for us, the mama, the critters, and the herb babies. The first problem is that the place is next to a railroad track which wouldn’t have bothered us so much (but kills the resale value of course); second issue was the idiot (sorry, gentleman) upped his price during our negotiations – we bailed quickly. The place has been on the market for over a year anyway and I’m not so keen on being stuck with a house that we can’t sell when we’re finally ready to move up North with the whole family.

So, wish us luck today as we venture yet again into the realm of rental houses. Our perfect (for now) place must be out there somewhere….

postheadericon Saturday Sweetness – Candied Ginger

I have developed quite the fondness/addiction to ginger. I’ve always loved ginger ale, gingerbread cookies and other gingery goodies, but this new-found craving is for the candied or crystallized ginger. We go to a great sushi place (I’m not really that adventurous – I mostly eat the crab rolls and the GINGER) where the waitress recognizes me and always brings out an extra serving or two of their own ginger. Yum.. I have been anxiously waiting for my ginger roots to be ready to harvest & I think they are there! While waiting I’ve been gathering ideas on how I’m going to prepare them. I’m not too sure I want to boil the root as it seems like it would leech some of the properties from it that I’m trying to preserve. Sooo… in digging around in my recipe/note box, I came across this little recipe that I’m going to try this week. It has the promise of actually giving me two very usable ginger products – crystallized ginger & ginger honey. (I’m sorry that I didn’t note where I obtained the recipe so I can give the credit due.)

Raw Candied Ginger

· Peel washed ginger root and cut into slices about 1/8 inch thick

· Place the slices in a large canning jar & cover with honey

· The honey will start to become very thin & watery after about 30-45 minutes, drain the watery honey off & pour it into another jar (be sure to save it)

· Pour more honey into the original jar with the ginger slices & cover them again, repeat the above procedures another 4-5 times until you no longer get the watery honey

· When the honey is no longer pulling the water from the ginger, remove the slices from the jar and lay them on a sheet of waxed paper in the fridge.

When dry, the slices can be placed in a jar or other contained and kept in the fridge. They should keep for a few months as long as kept cold. The ginger-honey can be used as a syrup or to sweeten other goodies.

I will let you know what my experiment brings! Hopefully lots of sweet gingery yumminess..

postheadericon What A Workshop!!

I had such a great time Saturday!

The Natural Botanical Perfumery workshop was a blast and EXACTLY what I needed to chase away the previous week’s woes. I really enjoyed meeting Justine Crane from The Scented Djinn. She put on a really informative class on creating your own scents with natural botanicals and oils. I can’t believe how much we learned in such a short time.

Justine locating one of her ingredients
The class was limited to 6 students due to the sheer amount of information that Justine has to share and her desire to offer as much one-on-one with the participants as possible. Rebecca (the other lady in the class) and I really reaped the rewards of the other students failing to show up that morning. We had Justine and her vast knowledge all to ourselves! (Too bad for the other participants, they really missed out on quite an experience.)
The Intermountain Nursery was such a perfect location for the class. We were under a covered porch/potting shed type setting behind their gift shop that had benches and tables. There were grapes and other plants all over the place with hummingbirds flitting in and about – they were probably getting whiffs of the (mostly) wonderful scents we were being introduced to. We all kept mentioning the fact that the weather was unbelievable for the end of August. We had a lovely breeze the entire day and I never did get too warm (which is amazing for me because I am usually boiling this time of year.)

It was a very relaxed environment as we started off just all talking and visiting. We then segued into the meat of the class as we shared why we had signed up for the class and what we were hoping to learn. Justine’s daughter Hannah was there and was a real kick. She’s got a great eye for photography as well – click here to see some of her photos from the day (loved the kitty).

It was such a perfect atmosphere for learning – very relaxed and low-key. Justine guided us through evaluating scents and making our own notes. Mine were such as “Valerian reeks like stinky feet” and “Pink grapefruit is yummy and sweet”. (I really didn’t intend that to rhyme, but what can I say. Do take my advice though and don’t put your nose close to a bottle of valerian oil – it stinks just like the plant and my husband’s work boots. But this is an example of what we learned; even thought it is AWFUL by itself, when blended with another botanical, it can be the most beautiful scent you could imagine.)

Rebecca & Justine doing an evaluation

We chatted and soaked up information while Justine had us create our own scent. It was really fun to note that while Rebecca and I used many of the same ingredients in our own little recipes, the scents smelled nothing alike. Both of our creations smelled great, we were thrilled with our first efforts! The real kicker came when Justine evaluated our scents and told us what thought or first impression they invoked. I started laughing when she said mine was “Purple”. Purple and lavender are my absolute favorite colors in the world and my scent creation brought that to her mind! The hubby really enjoyed that. He makes fun of my purple obsession all of the time, he says now I can smell like it too.. I think I’ll name it “Amethyst A’Mour”.

Be sure to check out Justine’s sites: Oh True Apothecary and The Scented Djinn for some great information and to find out about her next classes – they’re not to be missed!

postheadericon Saturday Sweetness – Lemon Ginger Cookies

Lemon-Glazed Candied-Ginger Cookies
This recipe is from Martha Stewart. I really, really LOVE ginger so I was very happy to find this yummy treat.. I wish I would have had this recipe when my Grandma was still alive. Lemon and gingerbread cookies were two of her favorite treats. I used to make her some flaky little lemon cookies and we always had gingerbread cookies on hand. To have them combined into one delicious cookie would have been a definite staple for her 4 o’clock teatime!
I altered the recipe to fit my lazier approach to cookie baking (slicing from a log vs. rolling out the dough & cutting circles) and because the dough will soften very quickly once removed from the fridge, but the original recipe can be found here. makes 4-6 dozen

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Salt
6 ounces (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped candied ginger (crystallized will work too)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup water

Directions

Sift flour, baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt into a bowl.
Cream butter and brown sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add ginger, and beat for 2 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla until well combined.
Add flour mixture, and then beat on medium-low speed until dough just comes together.
Shape dough into two “logs” about 2″ diameter. Wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or up to 3 days).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove 1st log from fridge & slice it into 1/4″ thick rounds. Place the rounds 1/2 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are set and edges are light gold, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer parchment with cookies to wire racks. Let cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough. (Cookies can be stored for up to 3 days.)

Whisk confectioners’ sugar, lemon zest and juice, honey, water, and a pinch of salt in a bowl until smooth. Drizzle glaze over the cooled cookies. Let stand until glaze is set, at least 20 minutes. (Glazed cookies can be stored overnight.)
~ I hope you enjoy these cookies as much as I do and that they can become a part of your tea time as well!

postheadericon Finally Friday

Friday, Friday, it’s Finally Friday…

It’s been a long, annoying week. With the worries about Mom, the hurry up and pack your #(%* and move out, and everything else; the weekend just couldn’t get here fast enough for me!

I did take Mom to the doctor yesterday and he put her on Lasix as she has been accumulating fluid around her lung again. He seemed pretty optimistic that it will relieve the pressure she’s been feeling and help ease her breathing. We’re very fortunate to have doctors on Mom’s team that are on the ball and very caring. They are also being encouraging and optimistic instead of all doom and gloom like some I’ve been around in the past. It helps that they seem to have a sense of humor since Mom is such a great, upbeat person and jokes around with them alot.

Anyway, besides the “bleh” week itself, I’ve been looking forward to the weekend because I get to go to a really interesting class on Saturday. It is a Natural Botanical Perfumery workshop being held at the Intermountain Nursery up in the foothills of Prather, CA. It’s being taught by Justine Crane of The Scented Djinn. I’m really excited because when I first found out about this class several months ago, I didn’t think I’d get to go. But, I called them last week and found out there was still a couple of spaces left in the class. Hubby said “Just Do It!” so I signed up. I’m really looking forward to creating my own scent and learning about the different notes and fragrances. Whoo hoo, a ME day that combines learning and fun surrounded by plants! And to boot, the weather is supposed to be a bit cooler – only 95 degrees. This time of year ANYTHING below triple digits is “cooler”.

 

Have a wonderful weekend all – I will tell you all about my new-found knowledge next week!