Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Butterburr (Petasites) is another of the unique plants that sends out their flowers first and then their leaves. Petasites will send out flowers beginning in late February - even through frozen ground! Historically used against plague and pestilent fevers currently it is receiving a lot of attention for migraine headaches. This large robust plant creates a massive presence in the garden and prefers moist shade and will spread by rhizome. Don't let the photo of the early spring flowers fool you. The leaves can easily reach up to 30 inches across! Large enough to use as a head covering during a rain shower!

The leaves were often used to wrap freshly churned butter and that is were the name Butterburr came from. This plant is a cousin to the coltsfoot plant we covered yesterday. They look similar I suppose, except that butterburr is taking steroids.....

Monday, March 30, 2009


Coltsfoot, Tussilago farfara, is one of those unique plants that sends out the flowers first and then the leaves. The flowers are popping up out of the ground now and look similar to dandelion flowers. The leaves in this photo are last years leaves yet to be raked off. Coltsfoot has historically been used as a cough suppressant and for other lung ailments. Originally from Europe/Asia it is now a common roadside weed here in the US and in some states it's considered an invasive species.
The seed heads resemble dandelion as well which contributes to its invasiveness.

The leaves of coltsfoot (doesn't it look like a colt's hoof?) are what is used medicinally and is often used in herbal smoking mixtures as well. Tomorrow we will look at a cousin of coltsfoot.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


One of the first herbs up very early in the season and ready to be used on tea sandwiches or in soups and salads is this charmer. Burnet, (Poterium sanguisorba), is one of the great mimic plants in the herb garden. The flavor of this pretty plant is that of cucumber but without the peptic after effects cucumber has on some people. A quite hardy perennial you can harvest burnet all year round, even under heavy snow, which is a good thing because it loses its flavor when dried. It reaches only about 1 foot in height and the flowers are long stems with a nondescript reddish oval. It might occasionally self sow but for the most part Burnet is a well behaved plant and will not take over your herb patch. We love to use the pretty leaves as garnish or on top of a tomato sandwich.
You can also use it to make a flavorful sandwich spread.
Easy Burnet Tea Sandwiches

8 oz cream cheese
2 Tbl mayo
1/3 C chives freshly snipped
1/2 C fresh burnet, chopped

Soften the cream cheese with the mayo(or a splash of white wine if you prefer). Add the herbs. Spread on 12 slices of thin bread. Top with 12 slices of bread, remove crusts, and cut into fancy shapes.

Friday, March 27, 2009

It's Contest Time - Week 5!

Featured this week are moisturizing Lip Balms from Patti’s Potions Natural Soaps, Ltd.
Did you know that most lip balms contain petroleum products that are NOT eco-friendly? This is your opportunity to experience fine natural oils in your lip care experience. Food-grade lip-safe flavorings and essential oils may be used to add flavor to the lip balms. No sweetener is added. Ingredients: calendula infused olive oil, shea butter, natural beeswax, jojoba, castor, & vitamin E.

To win TWO of these luscious lip balms, simply enter by posting a comment in response to this blog entry and take a chance at winning!!! Don’t forget to include your email addy so we can contact the winner!

The following blogs are also participating, so stop over to enter with them for additional chances to win this weeks giveaway AND the chance to explore some cool blogs.
PrairieLand Herbs
Good Luck!
Congratulations to Steph, the winner of this weeks contest from Rosemary's Sampler. For a list of all the winners, check out Patti's Potions blog.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Dandelion Fairy Clocks

How do Fairies tell the time?
Surely girls and boys should know.

First they find a dandelion
Run to seed, and then -they blow!

Poof! and it is one o'clock!
Poof! poof! that will make two!

Poof! poof! poof! and three is chiming!
What I say is strange but true

If, when you have counted twelve
And some seeds still remain,

Worthless is that floral time piece
Find another, -try again.

Thus the Fairie's tell the time
But a fact that you should know

Is that they are, when they're counting
Very careful how they blow.

Poem by E. Oxenford

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tea and Trinkets, MA

We had the delightful opportunity to visit Tea and Trinkets in Norton, MA several summers ago, before we began blogging, so today, we're taking a step back in time to revisit this fun afternoon, with a nod to the importance of keeping a tea journal! Every year we are invited to spend a week at our eldest sister and brother-in-law's beach house in Rhode Island. It has become a wonderful vacation tradition, reminiscent of the many summers we spent at Avalon, NJ when we were growing up ourselves. This summer vacation always includes a visit to an area tea room, with a gentle reminder to the kids that vacation is not just about them, but rather involves activities others enjoy also. They would much rather have Pirate's Dinner everyday where manners don't matter. Typically for any tea room visit, we review manners in the van before we descend upon a tea room. Every little bit helps in this ongoing attempt to keep manners alive.

Tea and Trinkets is a fun tea room, with a pretty Victorian look, small round tables, assorted chairs, lovely linens, silver, mismatched tea cups, and trinkets galore. Our menu included Cranberry Hazelnut Scones and Chocolate Ribbon Scones with Citrus Butter and Mock Clotted Cream. The Sandwich tray was served on a clam shell serving piece (collapsible to look like a clam shell, it opens to hold three serving plates) and included Chicken Apple Pecan Sandwiches, Cucumber Herb Sandwiches and Sun Dried Tomato and Bacon Sandwiches. The desserts included Boston Cream Pie, Key Lime Squares, and Lemon Verbena~Geranium Pound Cake. Everything was fresh and tasty, and generous portions too. It was a very enjoyable afternoon. Thanks Valerie for creating such a memorable afternoon for our family.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Birthday Celebrations

A year of birthdays can produce a wide variety of cakes to celebrate the special occasion. The little girl's cake is a representation of the Jingle Gypsy that helped make the birthday special that year. There was twirling and dancing galore that day.
Monster Trucks played a part in the celebration this year. Using a toy monster truck to guide the creative process, the end result was this edible Monster Truck, complete with chocolate glazed crullers for giant wheels.

This birthday boy likes to plan ahead, I guess for my personal benefit providing ample time for cake design. Although he celebrates his natal day in June, usually he will announce my challenge for the cake sometime in January, preceded by the statement 'this is really hard'. He requested a castle cake for this celebration. Last year we had a life size lacrosse stick that amazed even the birthday boy.

Birthday celebrations are fun around here. Cake creations abound.

Friday, March 20, 2009

It's Contest Time ~ week 4!

Welcome to week 4 of our Herb Blog Group Contest!
For the week between Friday, March 20 and Thursday, March 26, you can enter simply by entering a comment in response to this blog entry and take a chance at winning a sampler of hand-blended herbal teas from HerbsfromtheLabyrinth.com, including one each of the following: Moontime Tea, Lover's Tea, Spring in My Step, FemininiTea, Dandy Lion Tea, Hush-A-Bye, Strong As Nails, SereniTea, SmarTea, DigestiviTea, Nursing Mother Tea, Endo-Liver Tea, Love Your Liver Tea, and Mid-Summer Tea.
(Sorry, teapot for display purproses only.)

HerbsfromtheLabyrinth.com has a wide range of herbal products to choose from.

The following blogs are also participating, so stop over to enter with them for additional chances to win AND the chance to explore some cool blogs.
Patti’s Potions
PrairieLand Herbs
Aquarian Bath
The Rosemary House
Natures Gift
Torchsong Studio
The Essential Herbal
Garden Chick
SunRose Aromatics
Herbs from the Labyrinth
Good Luck!

Thank you everyone for participating in the blog contest this week! Congratulations to our winner, Filly!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Be Good at something,

Be good at something,
it makes you valuable..
have something to bring to the table,
because that will
make you more welcome.
~Randy Pausch

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Join us for Afternoon Tea as we celebrate St. Patrick's Day today!
Emerald Isle Hot Pepper Jelly 'n Cream Shamrocks
Top o' The Morning Chicken Sandwich w/ Basil Pesto Mayonnaise
A Wee Bit o' Walnuts atop Blue Cheese Filled Spinach Cup
Lads & Lassies Cream Cheese filled Spinach Bread
Good Luck! Good Cheer! Rolled Asparagus Sandwich
Happy St. Paddy's Day Turkey Havarti Rollup in Spinach Wrap

Luck o' The Irish Cream Shamrock Scone
Irish Soda Bread
Mock Clotted Cream, Lemon Curd
Wearin' of the Green Grapes, Star Fruit, Kiwi & Pineapple

Rosemary Shortbread Shamrocks
Leprechaun's Lucky Lime Meltaways
Grannies Chocolate Brownie

May joy and peace surround you,
Contentment latch your door,
And happiness be with you now,
And bless you evermore

Monday, March 16, 2009

and the people we love

The weekend included a quick trip to Jim Thorpe for the St. Patrick's Day Parade. It also included an impromptu tea party on the porch! A chilly day, the older sister surprised us with a pot of Irish Breakfast to enjoy while we spent the afternoon viewing an incredible number of pipe and drum groups interspersed between fire and rescue trucks. The day was filled with family fun, laughter, and the unique sound of bagpipes.

May your day be touched
by a bit of Irish luck,
brightened by a song in your heart,
and warmed by the smiles
of the people you love.
This is the closest we came to finding a leprechaun.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Teapots Tucked Away

Things are quiet around here this weekend... the teapots are tucked away, the cups stowed. Nothing brewing, nothing steeping. Too chilly and damp to begin weeding so we're off to Jim Thorpe to visit Marj. She's graciously hosting us in her guest lodging for an overnight. Casual and comfortable, it's a great place to stay while visiting this charming artist community in the Lehigh Valley. While visiting, we have plans to watch the St. Patrick's Day Parade from her porch - it offers front row seating and perfect visibility. We'll be the ones dressed in green. See you Monday!

Friday, March 13, 2009

It's Contest Time! ~week 3~

This week (#3) our herbal blog contest swings over to SunRose Aromatics, where Roe whips up the most delightful of aromatherapy and pampering products. For the week between Friday, March 13 and Thursday, March 19, you can enter simply by posting a comment in response to this blog entry and take a chance at winning!!!Here's the prize:

Facial Scrub w/ Organic Liquid Soap Set::
Pamper your face with all natural ~* apricot kernel meal * organic liquid castile soap
Mix in the palm of your hand & then apply to your face.
A wonderful exfoliate!The following blogs are also participating, so stop over to enter with them for additional chances to win AND the chance to explore some cool blogs.
Garden Chick - Where the winners from week #2 will be listed :-)
Keep coming back and keep entering. We have some great prizes coming up, and we'll be having the contests til the middle of May!
Congratulations to Marie... our winner for this week. Thanks to everyone for participating.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Honor, Courage, Commitment

The National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, VA, just outside of Washington, DC is a destination not only for Marines and their families, but for all interested in history. Dedicated in 2006, it is a tribute to Marines past, present, and future; and provides a valuable history lesson thru the amazing exhibits and interactive displays that represent the battles in which these brave men and women participated.The unique exterior structure of the building architecturally recreates the infamous placing of the American flag on Iwo Jima. It is a sobering thought that our Marine, a member of the 4th Division, was destined to participate in the invasion of Iwo Jima, but while working as a radio operator, he was wounded on the Island of Saipan and transported to a military facility in CA for treatment.
The museum walks you thru the Making of a Marine and then you continue your walk thru history, viewing the different military events that mark our past. The respect and admiration that was shown to our father by the Marines working at the facility was inspiring. In addition, fellow Marines visiting the museum greeted each other, sharing their training and battle history, walking back in time as they reminisced about their experiences.

Find time and take the opportunity to visit this amazing museum, a history lesson, and a look at the future. It is a museum dedicated to the men and women of the Corps and their honor, courage, and commitment to our past, present, and future.

Of particular interest to Cedar was this recreation done entirely in Legos.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Lemon Curd - Microwave Style

Traditionally, lemon curd is made on the stovetop... requiring a rather tedious amount of continuous and attentive stirring. However, the microwave style of making lemon curd makes this process somewhat easier. To make lemon curd,
gather your ingredients....
1 c. sugar, 3 lemons, 3 eggs, and 1/2 c. butter, melted.
Remove the zest from the lemons, being cautious to only zest the yellow skin, and place in a 4-cup microwave safe measuring bowl. Squeeze the lemon halves, until you have 1/2 c. fresh lemon juice. Add to the lemon zest. Whisk in eggs, melted butter and sugar until well blended. Place in the microwave, and heat for 4 minutes; whisking after each minute. Microwave times might be different depending upon your microwave. The curd will begin to thicken, and 'puff' up as it cooks.
Cover and chill in fridge; where it will keep for about a week. A dear friend tells me that she freezes her homemade curd. Thanks for that tip, M.E.!
Enjoy with oven fresh scones!
Additional uses for your lemon curd include using it as a filling in miniature pie or tart shells. I also like to use it as a topping for a lemon verbena cheesecake. Spread it evenly over top of the chilled cheesecake before cutting. Delicious! And it's always a great addition alongside a slice of gingerbread cake.
How do you use your lemon curd?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Irish Soda Bread

We love quick breads around here! So easy, so quick, so tasty, so satisfying! With St. Patrick's Day just around the corner, why not surprise your family with this homemade bread. Perfect for an after school snack, or simply an evening treat, enjoy a slice of Irish Soda Bread with a tip o' the hat and a top 'o the morning to all.

Irish Soda Bread
3 c. flour
2/3 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1-1/2 c. raisins
2 beaten eggs
1-3/4 c. buttermilk
2 Tbsp. melted butter

Mix dry ingredients together. Add raisins. Combine eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter. Stir wet ingredients into dry flour/raisin mixture by hand until mixed well. Pour batter into two 9-inch greased loaf pans. Bake 350 degrees, for 30 - 40 minutes.

Friday, March 6, 2009

It's Contest Time!- week 2

Welcome to the second week of our Herb Blog Group Contest! For the week between Friday, March 6 and Thursday, March 12, you can enter simply by posting a comment in response to this blog entry and take a chance at winning a Fairyland Cookie Cutter and Recipe Card. Each cookie recipe comes with 1 "friend of the fairies" cookie cutter and fairy sprinkles. Cutters include bird, dragonfly, fairy, gnome, flower, butterfly – she’ll choose one for you!

Garden Chick has a delightful selection of products that are either created by Karen or something she found on her adventures and loves enough to share! The following blogs are also participating, so stop over to enter with them to increase your chances to win AND the chance to explore some cool blogs.

SunRose Aromatics
Herbs from the Labyrinth
Patti’s Potions
PrairieLand Herbs
Aquarian Bath
The Rosemary House
Natures Gift
Torchsong Studio
The Essential Herbal
Garden Chick

When you post your comment, be certain to include a means of contacting you if you are the winner! This contest has ended.
Congratulations to MontanaGirl, she won this weeks contest, the Fairyland Cookie Cutter and Recipe Card.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Mad Tea Party Blend

The trip to Disney provided a memory bank full of fantastic adventures, photographs of happy days, and a once-in-a-life time experience. Actual souvenirs were purchased on a limited basis as the thought of taking three kids into any of the amazing gift shops just was beyond our scope of fun. I did manage to steal a moment in a gift shop and purchased a tin of the Disney Wonderland TEA, The Official Unbirthday Tea. The tin is full of clever little quips, for example, it mentions 'you'll be simply mad about this premium...tea', and after the description of the ingredients (premium blend of Indian Black Teas, ginger peach & apricot flavor) it states (But no mustard ~ don't let's be silly!). In another spot on the tin, they ask the question 'Why is a raven like a writing desk?' The reader is then directed to the other side of the tin for the answer, and then in the next sentence you're informed that the answer isn't on the other side of the tin, but you're welcome to look. Someone had fun deciding what to put on this tin! Another side provides directions on How To Make Hot Tea (a.k.a. Uncold Tea) as instructed by The Mad Hatter. Start at the beginning (and when you come to the end...stop). Somewhere among the silliness you can actually find the directions, with the suggestion that your clock be two days slow.

Drink me!
It's an absolutely perfect souvenir!

If you are looking to purchase this tea, contact the Merchandise Guest Servies at Walt Disney World at 407-363-6200. The bar code for this item is: 00137 11120
or try www.DisneyParks.com/store