Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Summer Edible Flowers

The garden is bursting with summertime edible flowers right now. Petunias work well as little bowls to hold butter balls, or simply stuffed with pate. In the tea room, we like to pipe a little French Style Cheese Spread into the center of the petunia and place each one on an individual wheat cracker. This is such a pretty and unique presentation for cheese and crackers. This French Style Cheese Spread is one of our best sellers. It's a quick and easy way to make your own 'Boursin' cheese.
Roses are a classic edible flower. One that we have used to make rose petal sandwiches with for 5 decades. We use a cream cheese softened with just a wee bit of rose water and spread on the bread. Place the clean rose petals atop the spread for a charming and delicious rose petal sandwich. Rose petal sandwiches can be considered the first tea sandwiches that Nancy ever made! She would help her mother prepare for garden parties at The Rosemary House by making these sandwiches. In the early years, mom, Bertha Reppert, would host garden tours and tea parties at no charge to introduce the world of herbs to the community. Rose petal sandwiches were offered along with strawberries dipped in vanilla flavored confectioner's sugar. Sweet brown sugar sesame seed crackers rounded out the offering along with fresh mint tea.
Dianthus flowers are so fun because they come in such a large variety of colors. Pinks, whites, reds, stripes, purples and even some blues. You can find the perfect color to compliment every dish. Toss these into a salad for a quick pick-me-up and beautiful contrast to salad greens.
All marigold flowers are edible but remember they taste like they smell!  Bold! This little marigold is called Tangerine Gem and it is probably our favorite. It tastes great and is a nice small size to float in a water glass or to decorate a lemon tartlet. There is also a Lemon Gem marigold that is very similar. Edible flowers add the element of surprise to your presentation and can really make a simple dish very elegant.

Day lilies are a wonderful edible flower but they only last one day so you must pick the one that opened just that morning.

Of course, in order to be an edible flower, they must not be sprayed with any pesticides and grown in organic conditions. Always make certain you know which flowers are edible before using them!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Wreath Workshop - Repurpose, Recycle, Reuse!

Earlier this year, we welcomed a class full of talented ladies who all made a garden wreath using repurposed up-cycled old hoses, worn out garden gloves and garden tools that would be able to handle the weather.
This was old hose from a washing machine. Once we formed the wreath shape with spent hose, we used wire, pipe cleaners or zip ties to hold the shape. 

And then a variety of garden tools, flower pots, gardening gloves were attached. Ribbons and silk flowers added a splash of color to the wreath. 
 I love how different they all look!  Each one is unique and beautiful!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A little garden...

“A little garden in which to walk, and immensity in which to dream.
At one's feet that which can be cultivated and plucked;
over head that which one can study and meditate upon:
some flowers on earth and all the stars in the sky.”     Victor Hugo

Saturday, June 27, 2015


Lungwort, also know as Pulmonaria officinalis, is a lovely perennial that will grow in semi-shade.  This plant is part of the "doctrine of signatures". This was an era of medicine developed during the European Renaissance (1550ish) where the medicinal uses of the plants were determined by the shape of the leaf (like violet leaves as hearts ease). Religious leaders taught that God provided visual cues to the uses of the plants. This plant had the shape of a lung and the spots indicated pulmonary issues, hence the name lungwort for this herb. There are many others - such as Bloodroot, which drips a red substance in the root or Eyebright whose flower resembles an eye and eyelash.

Friday, June 26, 2015

National Cream Tea Day

Two British companies, Rodda vendors of Cornish clotted cream and Tiptree fruit growers and preservers have teamed together to proclaim June 26th as National Cream Tea Day in England. Let's not limit this to a national event, but consider making this celebration international. Pour yourself a cup of tea and enjoy some scones slathered with cream first and then jelly or embellished with jelly first and then cream.  Either way, be certain to enjoy a scone today! A Cream Tea is less fuss than a full Afternoon Tea but certainly not any less enjoyable. With a friend or solo, enjoy this truly British experience of taking tea and savoring a scone laden with cream and jelly. If you want to read about the proper way to enjoy a cream tea, follow this link.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Old Fashioned Rosa Rugosa - In the Garden

This old fashioned Rosa Rugosa is so delicious smelling. It will perfume the entire back yard when in bloom. It is a shrub rose and is quite thorny and really it doesn't bloom for very long in the spring but still I wouldn't be without it in the garden.
We use this fragrant rose to make rose petal vinegar which is so flavorful on salads or it can be used as a fragrant hair rinse. The flowers can also be dried and blended with sugar for a gentle rose flavored sugar to use to sweeten tea. We do not dead head this rose so that we will get a generous harvest of very large rose hips in the fall. They make a yummy tea which is very high in Vitamin C and they can also be used to make jam. If I had to pick just one rose to have in my garden it would be this old fashioned beauty.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

In The Garden - Angelica

Angelica Archangelica is a biennial (2 year plant) that grows between 5 to 7 feet tall. In the second year it will flower with these large seed heads and the stalks that go off to the sides with slightly smaller seed heads on them. It can easily look like a person/plant. The colonists felt that Angelica offered the protection of the Angels to their homestead and would plant this stately herb at the entrance to the garden.
Fresh Angelica is delicious crystalized and candied. It also can be made in to a wonderful syrup for ice cream. It likes cold weather and is one of the first herbs up in the spring and will start to phase out now that it is very hot out. It grows wild along the roadsides in Scandinavian countries, Iceland and even down into France and Spain. It is often used in liqueurs, absinthe and other digestives.
This Angelica was named after this herb and her middle name is Bertha to honor both her maternal and paternal grandmothers! This Angelica loves ice cream and has grown quite tall and strong.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Inspiring Seashells

These inspirational quotes were hanging on a fence in one of our favorite beach towns, Cape May, NJ, offering everyone some inspiration as they walked by. Perhaps you might find some inspiration as summer begins!

The trouble with trouble is
 it always starts out as fun.
"Username or Password Incorrect" 
Seriously, you can't tell me which one?
Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes it's the quiet voice at the end of the day that says: "I'll try again tomorrow."
When something goes wrong in your life yell "Plot Twist" and move on.
           If you are always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Jubilee Day, 2015

Market Street
It's Jubilee Day in downtown Mechanicsburg. This event is billed as the largest and longest running single day street fair on the East Coast. The first Jubilee Day was held in 1924 as a Farmers and Merchants Jubilee Day where local farmers would proudly show off their animals and the merchants would display their wares. Although fancy cars are now located where the farmers had their cattle and pigs and a small petting zoo substitutes for the farmers animals, Jubilee Day is eagerly anticipated my many in the borough and beyond.

Main Street looking East
The skies are overcast today, and rain is predicted for later in the afternoon on a good sunny day the crowds reach 70,000 people! Susanna and I always take a quick stroll downtown in the early morning before the crowds are excessive. This is the day we enjoy a good old fashioned PA Dutch deep fried Funnel Cake for breakfast. It is a tradition I eagerly anticipate, dietary concerns are tossed aside today!
Jubilee Day is also the day to greet old acquaintances, friends from high school, and pals from the neighborhood. And, the day to find a new treasure or two. Shopping is secondary to the eating - there are multiple funnel cake booths, deep fried anything is available from Oreos to vegetables, sausage sandwiches and grilled roast beef sandwiches, ice cream and fresh squeezed lemonade. Anything you want is here.
And this is my little treasure - a pretty garden ornament that features an amazing assortment for plates and dishes in lovely shades of pink and green. It has already found a spot in the garden.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Steampunk Themed Tea

Steampunk is representative of the Victorian era, the 1800's. It is both science fiction and fantasy, and yet, it has developed into more than that to include a variety of fashions and gadgets. A thorough and comprehensive definition of this genre may be found at this Steampunk website.
We welcomed fictional authors of the series A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris to the tea room. They greeted our guests at a book signing in the gardens and also presented an entertaining program after our tea. The authors mystery novels feature secret agents with their home base centered in the heart of the Empire, London.
Tea is frequently enjoyed throughout the novels and was the perfect conclusion for a delightful afternoon.

Our Steampunk themed tea centered around those things associated with steampunk such as gears, keys, goggles, and hats. For our printed menu, we played off the style of the chapter headers in the novels. We introduced each course with a short descriptive sentence.

For the first course, Wherein our beloved hostess starts off the afternoon tea
A pasta salad with 'gears', red and green peppers and black olives was served upon a crisp lettuce leaf.

The second course: In which a lovely array of sandwiches become present
The sandwiches from the top, going clockwise: Sun Dried Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper in Phyllo Cups, Peach & Brie Crostini with Spring Onion, Savory Herb & Black Olive Rounds topped with a Gear, Goldenrod Apricot & Pimiento Finger Sandwich, and Tomato Basil Romano Cheese Sandwich.

Wherein your next course of scones and tasty sweet bread arrive                                            Traditional English Cream Scone, cream and jelly, Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread with a white chocolate key, and a medley of bananas, blueberries, strawberries with a brown sugar glaze.
In which the frailties and fears of mortals are tested with sweet temptations
Lastly, dessert included Chocolate Cake in the shape of a top hat and goggles and Rosemary Shortbread Gears. Please, would you like another cup of tea perhaps?

In which we give thanks to Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris of A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences for their gracious and intriguing visit with us this afternoon. Wherein we also give thanks to Angelica Brill for the clever and fun headings that introduced each course. Not to forget, Deb Beamer of Mechanicsburg Mystery Books for being such a fine book handler and promoter. And of particular importance, we give thanks to our guests that joined in the Steampunk festivities located at the heart of our empire, Mechanicsburg.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Steampunk Booksigning Garden Party

Steampunk authors Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris joined us in the gardens of The Rosemary House for a book signing and authors meet and greet. Their series, A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences follows the exploits of Britain's Secret Agents Books and Braun. The novels include Phoenix Rising, The Janus Affair, Dawn's Early Light, and The Diamond Conspiracy.

Our guests gathered in the gardens to meet the authors. Pip, short for Philippa, is originally from New Zealand and has a most delightful accent. She is a fantasy writer and podcaster. Her husband and coauthor, Tee, is also a coauthor of Podcasting for Dummies.

        Don't you just love all of the creative costuming?
A special thank you to Pip and Tee for joining us. Their answer to the question 'What is Steampunk?' is defined on their website as: Steampunk is modern technology—iPads, computers, robotics, air travel—powered by steam and set in the 1800’s. For a more complete definition, visit their website here.

Special thanks to Deb Beamer our book vender. Deb has owned and operated Mechanicsburg Mystery Books since 1990. The shop is located just outside of town at the corner of Clouser Road and Trindle Road. Her shop specializes in mystery, spy, thriller and horror books of all kinds, new and used. She has the best assortment of mystery books available! In addition, she offers a fun variety of specialty events at her shop. Thanks Deb!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Flag Day!

You're the emblem of
The land I love.
The home of the free and the brave.
~George M. Cohan

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Queen's Tea

This past Sunday we celebrated the Queen's birthday in the tea room and in joyous occasion shared a toast with Pink Moscato Champagne. The festivities began with a Mixed Berry Salad. The assorted leafy greens were topped with strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. A sweet Poppyseed dressing and a sprinkling of Feta cheese highlighted the fruit.

Individually plated sandwiches included Fresh Pear, Blue cheese and Pecan Finger Sandwich, an Apple & Basil Crostini topped with melted Swiss Cheese, a Veggie Confetti Sandwich with a heart shaped top, a traditional Cucumber Sandwich with mint butter, and as was served during the Queen's coronation in 1953, we served Coronation Chicken Salad with mangos, raisins, and cashews and a hint of curry.

The scones, always served fresh from the oven, were whisked out of the kitchen before a picture was taken. The plate of scones featured Kensington Palace Scones (a traditional cream scone) and White Chocolate Apricot Scones with Sweet Cream and Lemon Curd. Fresh fruit accompanied the scones. The final course included a medley of petite desserts which were Chocolate Mint Cake, White Chocolate Pistachio Truffle, and a Cherry Cookie swirled with a white chocolate glaze.
Long Live the Queen! Long May She Reign!