Saturday, May 30, 2009

~Quiet Anticipation~

~the Bride's Bouquet~
Here's Thyme to give you courage
Rosemary for the past
Sweet Lavender, a loyal heart
Yarrow, a love to last~

This beautiful herbal bouquet quietly awaits the arrival of the bride. We're celebrating today with a wedding in the herb gardens at the strike of five. The gardens have been spruced, the roses are blooming, the peonies fragrant, the paths swept, the rains have ended, the sun is shining. Susanna crafted the bouquet full of symbolic herbs. The bride's bouquet poem is from a quaint bit of poetry from Old England which quotes herbs and their symbolism.

Friday, May 29, 2009

~Free Spirit~

Your future depends on many things, but mostly on you.
~Frank Tyger

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Smells so good, I almost *want* to wash my mouth out with it

Greetings, gardeners!

Ibti here, guest blogging during my time at the historic Rosemary House here in Mechanicsburg. I've had a lovely time thus far, doing all sorts of things around the garden and beyond. This past Saturday I joined Susanna, David, Nancy, and the kids at the annual Baltimore Herb Festival. The rest of the lovely, sunny long weekend was filled with gardening and barbecues and town parades and trips to the local ice cream shop. Nice.

Now, it's not sunny all of the time. Take the past two days, for instance: cold and rainy. Ick. I did not order this weather (though I am thankful that I am not, for once, biking in it). Were I on a farm, I would be pulling on my rain pants and rain jacket and trudging out through the mud to pound in a trellis for beans or mulching the asparagus patch. Here at the Rosemary House, though, when the weather outside is frightful there are lots of things we can do inside. Like make herbal tinctures (we made one with motherwort the other day from some that we had pulled from the back garden during a round of weeding). Or bake scones (Nancy is a FABULOUS cook and a gracious teacher... and I just happened to still be in town for the leftovers from Wednesday's tea). Or check to be sure the homemade cordials are coming along . (You know, it's only right to check them now and again and reconfirm which is your favorite and which ones can be used in place of lighter fluid for a camping stove. I'm just saying....)

As the weather was bleak and I'd mentioned an interest in learning to make herbal soaps, Tuesday and part of Wednesday were devoted to Susanna and I trying our hand at soap crafting. As neither of us knew quite what to expect with our motley assortment of ingredients and molds, we approached the exercise -- making lavender glycerin soaps embedded with loofahs for next month's Lavender Festival -- with a spirit of adventure. Here is a brief summary of the process, should you be interested in making some yourself:

First, gather your materials. In this case, we used a few blocks of glycerin soap, lavender essential oil (one of the few essential oils that can be used directly on your skin without risk of irritation), natural food coloring, dried lavender flowers, some loofahs, molds for pouring (in this case, some cans and yogurt container lids), cutting board, knife, and double boiler. (The book I had read also mentioned using a candy thermometer, but really, we were just winging it and making sure nothing boiled or burned on the stove.)

Next melt the wax in the double boiler (or microwave). While the wax is melting, set up your molds. Once the wax is totally melted, remove it from the heat and stir in the fragrance, coloring, and any additives (in this case, dried lavender flowers). When just mixed, pour into the molds and let set.

Once the soaps are set, remove them from the molds. In retrospect, we would have preferred not to use the cans: though it felt good to recycle them, cans are not what I would call EASY TO GET THE SOAP OUT OF, if you know what I mean. After a few misguided attempts at running the molds under warm water to loosen the soap, Susanna broke out the pliers and peeled the cans off of the soap. Yeah, she's pretty tough. After watching that little maneuver I determined that she is not someone whose bad side I would want to be on....

Next, slice or otherwise carve up your soaps. Aren't these just lovely? I almost want to hang one in my windowsill. They smell pretty fabulous, too. Mmmm... lavender....

Finally, I was assigned to wrap and decorate the soaps.

If you'd like one of these little limited-edition soaps, get yourself over to the shop or to next month's festival....

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jack and the Bean Stalk?

No, it's Phil and the Tea Pot Tree.... young Phil (given that moniker years ago so the kids wouldn't confuse him with Uncle Phil) joined our family as an apprentice gardener when he was a mere 13 years old. Our Mother was so thrilled to have a young lad with an obvious interest in gardening that she took him under her wing, taught him about herbs and offered him a job in our gardens where he has been a willing worker ever since. Now a college graduate, Young Phil is leaving our herbal compound to pursue other artistic avenues, but one last visit before he heads North included adding a few more tea pots to our recycled/repurposed tea pot tree. Barefooted, he shimmies up the tree and attaches chipped, cracked, lidless pots to branches of the pussy willow tree. (I'm not certain Susanna will do the same, but time will tell.) Good Luck with your new adventures Phil!

We will miss your smiling face and pleasant disposition.
(P.S. We gladly accept any old tea pots
and will proudly hang them in the tree.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Farms of All Sorts!

Susanna, our travel coordinator at The Rosemary House recently sponsored a traveling Herb Seminar (our 70th!) to eastern PA to experience herb farms and more. Our first stop was at Deer Creek Farm in Reading PA. This stop featured over 400 varieties of potted plants for sale plus a lovely herb shop and a morning snack which included lavender pound cake with fresh strawberry sauce and a tasty iced tea.
These gorgeous hydrangeas were drying in one of the out buildings on this lovely country farm.
Our second stop, the grand estate of Meadowbrook Farm features the world-famous garden design of J. Liddon Pennock, Jr. who spent decades perfecting the formal gardens on the property. This was also our lunch stop where we enjoyed a basket lunch prepared by Nancy of Sweet Remembrances. The lunch menu included Savory Feta Cheese Spread and crackers, Dilled Apple-Chicken Salad, a vegetable salad of Broccoli, snow peas and more, Dilly Cheese Muffins and Coconut Pecan Cake. Once lunch was complete, we hopped aboard the bus and headed to Kings Herb Nook.This small but mighty herb shop is located in Honeybrook, PA where Rosanna King and her family welcomed us with freshly brewed mint tea, a very tasty and delicious combination of applemint, spearmint, and chocolate mint.
Herb plants, stump planters, and more were tucked under the bus, treasures to be planted and displayed in herb gardens at home. Our final stop was at Farm at Coventry in Pottstown, where we strolled the lovely gardens, marvelled at the variety of hops plants, and cackled with the free range chickens.Our casual evening supper, prepared by owner Susan Hess was enjoyed here. Asparagus Quiche with fresh eggs, a beautiful salad of spring greens with an herbal dressing, fresh strawberries and orange slices, roasted new potatoes, and tasty chocolate hazelnut candies completed the meal. Beautiful, colorful, flavorful, and joyful, we enjoyed a delightful evening here.
Needless to say, the bus was pretty quiet as we headed back to our final destination,
home sweet home.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day!

Snapshots of our local Memorial Day Parade.
Here, the Civil War soldiers are represented.

Fire trucks, old and new.

Several cub scout and boy scout packs, including Cedar's.
Remembering the fallen heroes of our Nation on this Memorial Day. Thanking them for their greatest sacrifice so that we may continue to enjoy the many freedoms that represent our country.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Too many directions!

Dear Reader~
Please forgive our absence these past few days. Our lives have taken many directions, mostly hectic, with the gardens, a Rosemary House traveling bus seminar, the Herb Festival in Baltimore, an extraordinary week-long visit with our CA cousins (read that lunch and dinner for 13 many days in a row), and WWOOF'ers too (willing workers on organic farms ~ in our case, herb 'farm'), plus gardener night and the usual other family stuff too. Oh my. I promise we will be back in full blogging form very soon! We can only hope that things will quiet down so that we might catch our breath before the next series of activities. Enjoy the beautiful days! The winter chill has finally passed and in between the hustle and bustle, we are enjoying beautiful sunny warm days, awakened each morning with a variety of bird songs.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Collections on display

Don't you just love this beautiful assortment of teacups, saucers, trios, and teapots? Me too! This photo was taken at The Victorian Lady tea room in Delaware. If your travels bring you to the Eastern coast, be sure to swing by Milford, DE for Afternoon tea. You won't regret it!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Berries and Blooms

Bruce and Shelley Richardson visited Sweet Remembrances several years ago when Bruce presented a program to the Mid-Atlantic Tea Business Association. During the '90's they owned and operated the Elmwood Inn in Kentucky, and have since published several cookbooks. Although the tea room is no longer open, they continue to influence the tea world by offering a Tea Room-101 masterclass, selling their tea blends and books on-line, and speaking across the country. To learn more, please visit their website which also includes recipes (including Eve Hill's recipe for Kensington Palace Scones).
These tasty little morsels, featured in an Elmwood Inn cookbook, are simple to make yet elegant to serve. Wash and cut strawberries in half, leaving the green stem attached. Sweeten mascarpone cheese with a bit of sugar and a pinch of cinnamon. Mix until sugar has dissolved. Top each strawberry half with this mixture. Sprinkle with nuts. The original recipe uses pistachio nuts, but since they are temporarily off the market, I substituted pecans. Not quite as colorful as pistachio alas. Garnish with a petite edible flower, in this case, white violets. My mother planted the white violets on the day we opened Sweet Remembrances in 1990. They now flourish and abound throughout the gardens! They are quite prolific but very pretty at this time of year when they are in bloom.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Savory Cheese Spread

Savory Cheese Spread
1 pound cream cheese, softened
1-1/2 c. crumbled feta cheese (6 oz.)
1/4 c. fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. snipped fresh chives
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 c. finely chopped black olives

Blend all the ingredients (except black olives) in a food processor. This will turn a pretty shade of green as you mix the cheeses with the fresh herbs. Gently mix in the olives. Enjoy with your favorite cracker assortment. This will keep, refrigerated, for a week.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day Afternoon Tea ~ 2009

Our Afternoon Tea for Mother's Day featured a Savory Cheese Spread with Assorted Crackers. This was also accompanied by Mixed Fresh Fruit with a Sour Cream Topping.

Our sandwich course included a variety of tasty morsels. Fresh Strawberry Bruschetta, a Cucumber and Radish Herbal Heart, a Sweet & Savory Orange Ham Muffin, Chicken & Olive Salad in Pastry Shells, and a Golden Rod Sandwich (cheesy layer and apricot layer) completed the sandwich plate.
Today's Scones included Traditional English Cream Scone and Orange Almond Scone. These were served with True Devon Cream, Mock Clotted Cream, Strawberry Preserve and Lemon Curd. Orange Slices and Strawberries with cinnamon sweetened Mascarpone Cheese garnished the plate.
For dessert, we served Mother's Day Floral Bonnets, Raspberry Mousse atop Pound Cake and Chocolate Almond Truffle topped with Chocolate covered coffee bean.
Many many bottomless pots of tea were brewed for the event.
Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

love, love, love, love

Happy Mother's Day to everyone
....mothers, daughters, aunts, sisters.....

Hoping you are celebrating in a very special way today with your loved ones.

Friday, May 8, 2009

TeaCup Bear Workshop

Last night was our Teacup Bear workshop.... the tea room was temporarily turned into a craft studio. Marj., of Rosemary Remembrances in Jim Thorpe was the instructor for the evening, and she always comes fully prepared.

Saucers were attached to once-loved tea cups with a very strong glue. This part was done in advance to assure that the cups and saucers were well sealed.

Then the fun began as bears were matched with doilies which were matched with the teacups which were then matched with the adornments. It was a fun process, deciding what perfectly accented the bear.

These teacups and bears are smiling with new personality. No two assemblages were the same. Thanks Marj. for a very special evening!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Herbed Cheese Tarts

Savory little herbed tarts, perfect for Afternoon Tea.
Herbed Cheese Tarts
1/3 c. fine, dry bread crumbs
1 - 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
3/4 c. cottage cheese
1/2 c. shredded Swiss cheese
1 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. mixed herbs, fresh, snipped fine (chives, rosemary, basil, sage, any combination will do)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 eggs
vegetable oil cooking spray
For garnish: sour cream, sliced olives, fresh chives

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat mini-muffin pan with vegetable oil spray. Sprinkle bread crumbs onto bottom and sides until coated. Shake pans to remove any excess crumbs. Set aside.

In large bowl, beat cream cheese, cottage cheese, Swiss cheese, flour, herbs and garlic powder just until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat just until blended. Divide mixture evenly into 24-cavity mini muffin pan. Bake 15 minutes. Cool. Chill in refrigerator approx. half an hour before removing from pans. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with sour cream, olives, and chives.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Herb and Garden Faire: Landis Valley, PA

The annual herb faire is being held this weekend, May 8th and 9th at the Landis Valley Museum, a PA state museum that honors farming and community, near Lancaster, PA. In addition to a great variety of vendors, plants, and herb merchandise, there are Lecture and Demo Tents this year where featured speakers will present a nice variety of herb programs, free to those attending the faire. We're happy to share this schedule with you. For additional information about the faire, please visit their website.

Lecture Tent ~ Friday ~ May 8, 2009
NOON What are Heirloom Seeds? – Heirloom Seed Foundation
1 P.M. Wild Foods – Free, Tasty and Fun by Tina Sams, The Essential Herbal
2 P.M. Herb Gardening Basics – Susanna Reppert, The Rosemary House
3 P.M Barn Stars – A unique look at farming architecture – Fred Will, Sugar Grove Herbs

Demo Tent ~ Friday ~ May 8, 2009
12:30 The Art of Creating Medicinal Tinctures – Susanna Reppert, The Rosemary House
1:30 Preparing a proper Pot of Tea – Barbara Will, Sugar Grove Herbs
2:30 Salves and Balms you can make yourself – Tina Sams, The Essential Herbal
3:30 Hands on – Make and Take your own culinary Bouquet Garni

Lecture Tent ~ Saturday ~ May 9, 2009
11 A.M A Look at the Landis Valley Herb Garden with Sarah Campbell, Herbs of the Labyrinth
NOON Creating a Sustainable Back Yard–Homegrown Edible Landscaping Company, Natasha Herr and Wilson Alvarez
1 P.M Growing Mushrooms - Brushwood Farm – Diane Wiest
2 P.M Medicinal Herbs you can grow – Maureen Rogers, www.Herbal
3 P.M Wild Foods – Free, Tasty and Fun - Tina Sams, The Essential Herbal

Demo Tent ~ Saturday ~ May 9, 2009
11:30 What are the Ingredients in Soap – Maryanne Schwartz, Torchsong Studio
12:30 Create your own Incense – Tina Sams, The Essential Herbal
1:30 Potpourri as easy as 1-2-3 – Susanna Reppert, The Rosemary House
2:30 Blending Herbal Tisanes – Barbara Will, Sugar Grove Herbs
3:30 Hands-on - Make and Take your own culinary Bouquet Garni

Hope to see you there! Stop by our booth and say 'hello' to Susanna!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Fairies and Festivals: Spoutwood Farm

Over the May Day weekend we were vending
at the Spoutwood Farm Faerie Festival.
This is an annual huge three day event
honoring the plants, and the earth with entertainment, music,
maypoles, tea parties, drumming circles and much more.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Repurposed Tea Tins

This past week, Denise at Uniquely Tea Blog, has posted a series of clever ways to recycle/reuse/repurpose empty tea tins. Today, she asked for a show of our uses for empty tea tins. Our Jim Thorpe sister, Marj, creates dried or silk floral arrangements in old tea containers which are then offered for sale in The Rosemary House or Rosemary Remembrances. It's a fun way to reuse those old tins. Be sure to visit Denise's blog to learn of the many other options for using those old tins. Some were very clever! Cedar was smitten by the tea tin Robots!
Well, after a quick review of the posts Denise made this past week, I see she already showed a flower arrangement in a tea tin. Of course! It was a pretty inclusive series. But, I don't *think* I saw a pencil/pen/scissors holder handy by the phone, ready for important note taking.

Friday, May 1, 2009

It's Contest Time! ~ Final Week

Torchsong Studio is hosting the 10th and final week of our Herbal Blog Contest series.
Maryanne is offering something a little different to close out the contest. This charming pewter garden pin (lead free) has a little glass ladybug charm in the middle and garden tools on either side. Simply comment on this post, or any of the other blogs participating for a chance to win one of ten pins to be given away. Please make sure you leave a contact email.

Remember all of the blogs below are participating, so visit all of them and post to increase your chances of winning.

The Essential Herbal magazine subscription
Garden Chick - fairy cookie kit
SunRose Aromatics - facial exfoliant and liquid soap
Herbs from the Labyrinth - tea sampler
Patti's Potions - lip balms
PrairieLand Herbs - healing wand
Aquarian Bath - lip balm and soap
The Rosemary House - Bertha Reppert's "Twelve Month Herbal"
Nature's Gift - purse-sized inhalers & inhalation blend
Torchsong Studio Our final contest - check back on May 8 for the list of winners!

Thanks everyone for participating and for playing! Good Luck!
Congratulations to this weeks winner ~ LemonVerbenaLady!