Friday, July 18, 2014

Lemon Verbena Love

Lemon Verbena

I love lemony herbs, and my favorite of all is Lemon Verbena.  It has a delicious lemon fragrance that is wonderful in the teapot, baked goods, and scenting the home.  
As much as I love Lemon Verbena, it doesn't particularly love my Texas climate.  It burns up in the summer and freezes in the winter, so I treat it as an annual or a very tender perennial.  But in my book, it is well worth growing, even as an annual.  It dries well, so thankfully I can order a supply from Mountain Rose Herbs if my harvest is slim.

I'm not the only one who loves this lemony gem- here is a blog by the Lemon Verbena Lady!  This is a link to her recipes that feature Lemon Verbena.
She has great information on her blog about all kinds of herbs, not just Lemon Verbena, so do spend some time perusing her posts.  

How do you use Lemon Verbena in your home?
Do you have a favorite recipe?



Monday, July 14, 2014

Simple Recipe for Hot Summer Days


















Herb Buttered Pasta

Cook 1 lb. pasta per package directions.
While pasta is cooking, melt 2/3 cup butter and stir in 2 tablespoons each finely chopped fresh basil and parsley, along with a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

When pasta is done, drain and stir in herb butter.
Top with 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese.

Serve with a salad and garlic bread for a tasty summertime meal.

Blessings,
Catherine

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

12 Herbs for Hot Summer Days



It is HOT here, the thermometer is edging closer and closer to that dreaded 100 mark.  Now begins the season of hiding out indoors from lunchtime until the sun goes down in the evenings, and then it will still be uncomfortably warm.  I often slip out early in the day and gather snippings of herbs and flowers to brew up a nice herbal sun tea.


Some herbs wilt like I do in the summer heat, but there are hardy herbs that seem to enjoy the hot summer days (or at least not wither away if kept properly watered).

12 Heat Loving Herbs

basil
lavender
lemon balm (requires afternoon shade)
lemon verbena
Mexican mint marigold
mint (if grown in a shady spot and kept well-watered)
mugwort
oregano
rose
rosemary
thyme
sage

All of the above do reasonably well in my heart of Texas (HOT!) summer garden.  They do require almost daily watering and a few demand afternoon shade to keep them from burning up in the summer sun.  A thick layer of mulch helps hold in moisture and keep the soil cooler, too.

What herb grow well in your summer herb garden?








Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Herb Garden Favorites - Sage and Thyme

One of my herb garden favorites- sage.
There are many great uses for this herb, including, but certainly not limited to, holiday stuffing.

Thyme is another favorite easy to grow herb.  I'm not sure who loves it more, me or the bees!
I enjoy it in sauteed vegetables, salad dressings, and more.

Watch this new video from Mountain Rose Herbs and Rosemary Gladstar to learn the benefits of common garden sage and thyme:




I'd love it if you would share your favorite uses for these two herbs!

Herbal blessings,
Catherine

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day Blessings



Hope your day was as blissful as this bee in the sage blossoms!

Blessings,
Catherine

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Old Practices for a New Year

















Returning to well-worn paths this season.
2014 is my year to EMBRACE life-
my life, not someone else's.
As I've pondered and prayed about what that means for me,
seeking what shimmers these days, herbalism has surfaced time and time again.
In small ways such as treating a cold with elderberry syrup, peppermint tea with ginger-infused honey and lemon; and an aromatherapy steam of eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary, and lavender essential oils.
A brief warm spell drew me out to the garden where I cut back winter damaged herbs and found myself planning next season's plantings, which feature more and more herbs.
An email from a fellow herb lover, dropping a hint that I have some herbal writing to do.

All of these small clues led me back full circle to where my heart has been for many years- herbs and herbcraft for the home.

So, as snow flies outside my window (a rare occurrence here in my part of Texas), I'm gathering notes scratched into journals to review for future writings, stacking the seed catalogs by my bedside for winter wishlist making, and simmering beef and barley soup laden with bay, garlic, parsley and thyme on the stove.
Small steps on a well-trod path.
Tomorrow I'll brew another batch of elderberry syrup, more tea, and see what else my hands find to do.
Heart-shaped dream pillows for Valentine's day gifts are one possibility.
Perhaps I'll mix up some LOVE tea as well.

What herbs are you using these days?
Making anything lovely with herbs? 
What topics would you like to see covered here at Still Room Herbs?

Herbal Blessings,
Catherine  

Monday, December 9, 2013

Essential Holiday Scents


Essential oils are one of my favorite ways to use herbs in my home.
In the photo above, the small wooden cabinet on the right holds a selection of essential oils.
My husband bought that for me many years ago especially to hold my ever growing collection.
I use essential oils in the bath, in cleaning, for first-aid, and to add natural fragrance to the house.
They are also used in creating gifts such as bath salts, lotion bars, solid perfumes, potpourri, and dream pillows.
There are many, many uses for essential oils, they are a daily staple here.

I buy my oils from Mountain Rose Herbs or Aura Cacia almost exclusively.
My local Natural Grocers carries Aura Cacia brand, so I shop there when I need something quickly, but when I have time to wait for the UPS man, I order from Mountain Rose Herbs.
Both brands are of excellent quality, so you won't be disappointed with either.

For simplicity's sake, I often add a few drops of one or two essential oils to either a small pan of water simmering lightly on the stove top, or to the humidifier which runs almost daily in winter to combat the dry air caused by our central heat unit.
 
During the holidays I like peppermint, orange, cinnamon, rosemary ... spicy 'holiday' fragrances.
On my list now are some  'Christmas tree' scented oils-
Cypress
Juniper

These Holiday Diffuser Blends from Mountain Rose herbs all sound nice.

Do you use essential oils in your home?
If so, what is your favorite way to put them to use?



Friday, December 6, 2013

Gifts from the Still Room

















I love Christmas!
It is my favorite time of the year.
I love the decorating, the baking,
choosing gifts from the World Vision Catalog
for those less fortunate than my family-
those who without the gifts of chickens, rabbits,
or goats might go hungry.

And I enjoy creating homey, simple herbal gifts for those I love.
Gifts such as-
Herb Infused Honey
Bath Salts
Herb Infused Oils
Simmering Scents
and this
Vanilla Sugar Scrub

1 cup vanilla sugar made with white or brown sugar (see directions below)
1/2 cup sweet almond oil (or whatever oil you like)
a few drops of vanilla essential oil (optional)

Mix together and use as a body scrub to exfoliate and make your skin soft, smooth, and sweet smelling.

Vanilla Sugar
 Take a whole vanilla bean and place it in quart jar and then fill the jar with sugar. (I prefer organic cane sugar, but use whatever you have on hand.)
Let the sugar and vanilla bean sit for a few days and soon you will have a delicious vanilla sugar to put in your cup of tea, your favorite cake or cookies, or a deliciously scented sugar scrub.

I'll share more gifts from the Still Room in the coming days.

What gifts are you making this Christmas?

Friday, November 29, 2013

Simmering Scents


'Tis the season for simmering fragrant herbs and spices on the stovetop.
In the photo above is a mixture of:
dried oranges
bay leaves
cinnamon sticks
cloves
and
star anise

I add powdered cinnamon and ginger and a few drops of sweet orange essential oil to the mix.

It is pretty in bowls or jars, and smells lovely when simmering in water in my favorite little enamel pan.

A simpler way to add fragrance to the home is to simmer fresh orange peels and cinnamon in water.

Do you have a favorite simmering potpourri that you make?





Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cough and Cold Relief Still Room Style
















Cough & Cold season hit here in full force last week.
Family and friends are sneezing, coughing, and suffering with sore throats and such.

I'm brewing many cups of green tea laden with honey, ginger, and lemon; and making soothing infusions of marshmallow root, slippery elm bark, linden, and oat straw for the cold suffers in my household.
.
I made my first batch of Elderberry Honey of the season yesterday and I am taking that along with Echinacea tincture to keep my own immune system strong and hopefully avoid becoming ill myself.
.
On the windowsill I have a small jar of ginger infused honey that will be ready soon for soothing sore throats and flavoring herb teas.

Meanwhile, the soup pot simmers with nourishing vegetable barley stew, heavily spiced with onions, garlic, and ginger; and the humidifier freshens the air with steam infused with eucalyptus, rosemary, and peppermint essential oils.











(Sorry about the poor quality photos- while my iphone makes posting photos quick and simple, I've not yet mastered the art of iphone photography.)


What's brewing in your home this season?







Saturday, May 25, 2013

Saturday Stroll

 From my garden this rainy Saturday morning:

 Dark Opal Basil which pairs perfectly with ...

Marion tomatoes ripening on the vine

 Feverfew about to blossom

Chive flowers which will find their way into a bottle of vinegar soon


What's growing in your garden today?

Blessings,
Catherine

Friday, April 26, 2013

Weekend Wanderings

It's raining- a good thing for the garden, but it did mess up my plans to weed the herb beds and such today.
When the weather clears, I plan to do some wandering in the wild area behind my house and do a little wildcrafting- nettle, dandelion, plantain, and chickweed are all at their spring best about now.

In the meantime, I'm moodling about in the kitchen, playing with ferments.
I have cream fraiche and kombucha started, and plan to make a jar of ginger carrots today.
Sullivan St. Bread is also bubbling away on the counter.  I'll bake it later this afternoon ... will be perfect for tea time!

I missed the Rosemary Gladstar Teleseminar last night, but thankfully the replay will be up over the weekend.  I've been listening as I putter about the house, stopping frequently to make notes. There are wonderful tips, recipes, and more in this program.  I downloaded the mp4 so I can listen as I have a few free moments.  Listen online or download it while you have a chance, you won't want to miss it.


Snippings from my herb garden this morning:
Pineapple Sage

Purple and Sweet Basil

Where are you wandering this weekend?


Herbal Blessings,
Catherine


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