Saturday, December 15, 2018

Breakfast Sangria - Weekend Recipe

This is light, bright and perfect for the morning, especially the morning after as it has the hair of the dog so to speak.  It is a good make ahead beverage for holiday entertaining. The sprigs of herbs can be removed before serving so as not to clutter the beverage.

Breakfast Sangria (makes 4 to 6 servings)
1 pink grapefruit
1 navel orange
2 limes
2 sprigs lemon balm or 1/8 cup Lemon verbena leaves.
3 to 4 sprigs lemon thyme
1 cup triple-sec or other orange liqueur
1 750 ml bottle of Presecco  (or other sparkling champagne-style drink)
12 to 24 ounces plain or grapefruit flavored sparkling water.

Slice the citrus fruit into half moons.  Mix with the triple-sec in a pitcher that holds at least 2 quarts.   Add herb sprigs, fresh is best, but dry is fine depending on season. Mix in the Prosecco and cover the pitcher tightly with plastic wrap.  Chill overnight or at least 8 hours before serving.

When ready to serve, remove the herbs, top off the pitcher with sparkling water and serve with lime or orange wedges.

To find other recipes for cocktails posted this month search MockDEC to find the recipes of previous months see this list, or search recipes 2018 for any recipe on the theme.

For 2018 the monthly recipe themes will be:
  January - Chicken Soup (ChickJan)
  February - Beef Stew (StewFeb)
  March - Jambalaya (JambMar)
  May - Ham and Shrimp Dishes (ShrHamMay)
  June - Bread recipes (BreadJun)
  July - Grilling (GrillJul)
  August- Garden Delights (GardAug)
  September - Salsa, Corn and Jelly (SCJSep)
  October - Squash Dishes  (SquashOct)
  November - Pumpkin Recipes (PumpNov)
   December - Herbal Cocktails (MockDec)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Herb Infused Lemon Beertail

Pilsner is a sweeter, lighter beer with a hint of citrus, making it the perfect additive to a cocktail make with citrus herbs.

Herb Infused Lemon Beertail
For simple syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup loosely packed lemon herbs, lemon balm, lemon thyme, lemon basil , lemon grass or lemon verbena. A single herb or mix is fine.

For lemonade:
Juice of 3 lemons
4 cups water
1 bottle (12 ounces) lightly flavored beer, such as a pilsner

Make simple syrup by stirring water and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat until boiling. Remove from heat immediately add the herbs, cover and allow to steep for 10 to 30 minutes. Then strain out herbs.

In large pitcher, mix lemon juice, water, ice, and 1 cup cooled simple syrup. Arrange 4 glasses and fill each halfway with mixture. Top with beer.
To make a mocktail: substitute gingerale of non-alcoholic beer for the pilsner.

To find other recipes for cocktails posted this month search MockDEC to find the recipes of previous months see this list, or search recipes 2018 for any recipe on the theme.

For 2018 the monthly recipe themes will be:
  January - Chicken Soup (ChickJan)

  February - Beef Stew (StewFeb)
  March - Jambalaya (JambMar)
  May - Ham and Shrimp Dishes (ShrHamMay)
  June - Bread recipes (BreadJun)
  July - Grilling (GrillJul)
  August- Garden Delights (GardAug)
  September - Salsa, Corn and Jelly (SCJSep)
  October - Squash Dishes  (SquashOct)
  November - Pumpkin Recipes (PumpNov)
   December - Herbal Cocktails (MockDec)

Monday, December 10, 2018

Holiday Swapping - a great way to save money and reduce waste

Reduce, reuse, recycle has been my thing the last few years.  I really wanted a lighted snow flake on my house, but the price was making me unhappy, so when I saw one at the resale shop last summer I bought it, even though when I plugged it in at the store, I realized that the upper corner did not light. So this year when I put it up, I found a way to disguise the broken section.  I recycled a decoration no one else would probably buy and still have my snow flakes!  

I was trying to figure out how to apply the idea of recycling to other Holiday excesses I see in December and I finally figured it out. 

Holiday Swapping

Now when I say Holiday swap most people think of a cookie swap.  Cookie swaps are great.  You bake your favorite cookies and swap with others who make their favorite cookie then everybody has an assortment. Churches often do it as a fund raiser too!

However if you think outside the cookie box, there are a few other things you can swap at Christmas that can help reduce waste and encourage recycling.

Holiday Decoration Swap. Some holiday decorations are near and dear to us.  Others are the equivalent of movie extras, just adding to the overall effect.  Trade away the ones you don’t love for some new-to-you items. You can get your snowflakes too!

You can also recycle your Tomato cages into a Christmas tree.  There are a million (maybe I exaggerate) ways to do this posted on Pinterest.  I just wrapped one cage in faux evergreens and a silver garland, then put old-fashioned Christmas lights on it that I got in a trade with a friend who wanted strands all in one color that I was not interested in using anymore.  The rings on the cage make it easy to clip or wrap things, so I was able to make the tree in about an hour with these faux evergreens I recycled from a bunch of mini trees I dumpster dived about 6 years ago. I guess the sled is recycled too!  It was my childhood sled which was faded and rusted.  A bit of spray paint and it became part of my snowflake Christmas theme.

Accessory Swap You can also reuse the items you decorate yourself with, find a few friends and have an accessory or scarf swap.  You know you get tired of that scarf after a full season, so have everyone bring a few winter accessories in like new condition.  This can include jewelry, gloves, sweaters, and scarves.  You can swap and exchange and update your look instantly with no money!

pounded flower note cards
Wrapping paper Swap Another big part of the holiday is the wrapping paper. It is a drag to wrap all your gifts in the same paper, but gift wrap can be expensive.  So divide each roll you buy in half and trade with a friend for half a roll of their paper.  You get twice as much.

You can also make your own wrapping paper. I save packing paper which comes in boxes that get delivered and smooth it out and stamp it, or pound it.  Pounding is actually a very old activity that includes taking flowers and leaves and pounding them onto paper to get the colors and textures of the plant.   You use a rubber mallet and a hard surface cushioned with layers of paper so you do not smoosh the items totally flat, but allow the colored pigments to transfer to blotting paper, card stock or kraft paper. 

I have also used fresh herb leaves as a stamper.  Press the leaves into the ink pad and onto kraft paper.  Wrinkled paper hides slips, tears and other blemished and just makes rustic wrapping paper.  Makes some torn fabirc ribbon and you have great homemade packages!

You can make wrapping paper and cards this way, and the plants vary from season to season, so you can do it all year.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Mini Mall with Etsy Freinds

This week I have been participating in a mini mall that highlighted 6 products from my shop as well as those of several of my Etsy Friends, we have glass bead crafters, vintage items, jewelry pieces, fun party favors and gifts, and special crafty items.  You can take advantage of the online shopping Mini Mall through Sunday December 9, 2018. With some special discounts and coupons!

It is an elective mix of items and the links will take to websites or Etsy shops so you can find other items by these same creatives.

I wanted to introduce you to the folks in this #MINIMALLETSY

The organizer of the Mini Mall was Elke of Ozark Glass.  She makes fused glass and glass bead items.  They have classical looks and the fused glass is very elegant.
Having lived and worked in Germany and  the USA, Elke has a broad interest in the arts and crafts. She has done sewn crafts as well as beading.  THe best part for her is picking the materials, coming up with the design, and the techniques. Her love is fused glass items so she sells other craft items to feed her fused glass habit.

Another member of the Mini Mall is a long-time Etsy Friend Elizabeth from LizP Originals. Liz makes great beaded ornaments and the lovely polished stone suncatchers.  For winter she is crafting beaded sweater  and scarf clips that are quite lovely.

Liz started making beaded items back in 1988 after getting married and moving to the US from Austria.  It sparked something in her, as she has not stopped designing since.  She is most proud of her new Christmas ornaments for pets, wing ornaments for pet loss and supporting special causes.  She likes to do custom work as well, so don't be afraid to ask!

Isabel of Isabel's Vintage has a great selection of vintage items that gifts for that distinctive person in your life.  My favorite in the Mini Mall is the men's neck tie from the Museum of Art. I like that her items go beyond the typical plates to more interesting vintage materials.

Jacqueline of JNJgiftsNcrafts is more traditional in her crafting with knitted items and sewn pieces, but she has nice variety.  According to Jacqueline she has been doing some sort of crafts all her life. She had a ceramic studio years ago and was taught to knit, sew, embroider, and crochet by her mother and grandmother. She says now that she is older she likes the extra money from crafting and has expanded it to include all areas of crafting . I love the bibs and the animal knitted hats, but my favorite item in the mall is the GIVE A FOX mug.  Do you give a FOX?

Chalk Couture is a unique member of our group.  Alicia also has an Etsy shop called TheMillers House.  With these chalk art based items you can create  your own chalkboards, farmhouse signs and vintage window items using the design elements special easy dry paints and washable paste colors.  It is a great set of accessories for those into the farmhouse design theme. Alicia is the individual designer working here and you can check out her website at or her facebook page
In a unique twist we have Oil Patch Burlesque. This fun party supply shop created by Terry, has hand crafted risqué items as well as other party supplies for your next hen party or raunchy gift item. They are fun, some are obscene and clearly even more fun and some are just hilarious. So indulge your naughty side and check out Terry and her penis chocolates (with nuts.) Terry has other shops with similar handcrafted edibles as well as those in the Mini Mall.

Last but by no means least is Aspen Tree Jewelry.  Frances is a unique jewelry maker and also a great customer of mine as well as an advocate for persons with disabilities.  In addition to lovely agate jewelry, she also designs graphics and has lived in all four time zones in the US!

I also like the mismatched earring sets, clever and different from what you might get elsewhere.

Of course this all came up because I have some Backyard Patch Herb items in the Mini Mall also and my fav is the Wine Dip Mixes that I made new this holiday season.

So visit and explore the Mini Mall and all that my Etsy friends have to offer you might find that perfect Holiday gift you never knew existed.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Holiday Cocktails - Rosemary Lemon Vodka Martini

Herb cocktails or mocktails are all the rage right now.  In fact I do a program called Making Herbal Mocktails that is available to garden clubs and libraries.  To get a description, see our "Programs" page of the blog.

But this month with everyone entertaining, I thought it would be a great time to focus the monthly recipes on different Herb-theme cocktails. So to start things off I have  a seasonal flavor of Rosemary.

With this recipe you need only one special ingredient, Simple Syrup.

To make simple syrup you need 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar or honey.  You warm them together in a saucepan until entirely dissolved.  To make this herbal, you can add sprigs of fresh or dried herbs to the syrup after everything is dissolved and allow the herbs to steep while the mixture cools, then you strain out the herbs and have a flavored simple syrup.  Simple syrup will only keep for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator, so you should make it in small batches or freeze it.

For this month we will give you a variety of different cocktails and mocktail alternatives to try out. Many herb flavored drinks can be made without alcohol, so you can enjoy some holiday cheer with out the introduction of alcohol. To find all the cocktail/mocktail recipes for this month, use the search box and type "MockDec" to find the rest.  If you want recipes from other months, search Recipe2018 or the search terms listed at the bottom of this post.

Rosemary Lemon Vodka Martini Cocktail
2 ounces vodka
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons simple syrup
2 sprigs rosemary
Crushed ice
1 lemon peel, for garnish

Add vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup, and 1 sprig rosemary to a shaker. Fill shaker with ice and shake 20 to 30 times. Strain into a martini glass garnished with lemon peel and remaining rosemary sprig.
Don't just mix this in a glass, you need to shake it.  The shaking not only chills the drink, but infuses the rosemary into the liquid as the ice bruises the sprig.  You will get an aromatic release of the rosemary scent and flavor imparted to the drink to give some perfect holiday flair.

For 2018 the monthly recipe themes will be:
   January - Chicken Soup (ChickJan)

   February - Beef Stew (StewFeb)
   March - Jambalaya (JambMar)
   May - Ham and Shrimp Dishes (ShrHamMay)
   June - Bread recipes (BreadJun)
   July - Grilling (GrillJul)
   August- Garden Delights (GardAug)
   September - Salsa, Corn and Jelly (SCJSep)
   October - Squash Dishes  (SquashOct)
   November - Pumpkin Recipes (PumpNov)
   December - Herbal Cocktails (MockDec)

Monday, December 3, 2018

New Moon Herbal Salt Detox Bath - Bath Blend of the Month

The time of the lunar cycle when the Moon goes dark — not visible in the sky at all — is known as a New Moon.  This is the perfect opportunity to discard things in your life you do not want.
2015 NASA photo
The day of the New Moon — the day before and the day after also — is a fortunate, rejuvenating time.
It is a time for:
+making positive changes
+turning inward
+clearing false perceptions
+tapping into our inner knowing
+embracing fresh opportunities
+ a time to set new intentions
+ also a wonderful time for cleansing

Because at the time of the New Moon (as well as the Full Moon) our body’s capacity for detoxification and toxin removal is at its best. Just like the oceans’ tides — that ebb and flow with the electromagnetic effects of the Moon — our bodies are comprised mostly of water and are also naturally affected by this lunar influence.
One of the vital elements to cleansing with the New Moon, is the detox bath. And today I want to share a recipe for renewal on the New Moon. It’s a wonderful way to increase the energy on the night of the New Moon and/or the day(s) before and after.  The New Mon is set of Dec. 7th
New Moon Herbal Salt Detox Bath
Makes: three (3) large tea bags 
2 tablespoons dead sea salts
2 tablespoons Himalayan pink salt
1 tablespoon calendula flowers
1 tablespoon lavender flowers
1 tablespoon lemon balm
1 tablespoon rose petals
1 tablespoon jasmine flowers
essential oils of lavender (3 drops), jasmine (2 drops), and rose absolute (4 drops), optional (for a more budget-friendly option, simply use lavender)

Directions: Add all ingredients to a quart-sized glass jar. Place lid and shake gently until well combined. Allow jar to sit overnight Measure 1/4 cup of mixture into a draw-string muslin bag or one large tea bag and seal with the use of a household iron or as recommended. Store tea bags in a glass jar or brown kraft bag.
Best Bath Procedures:
1.      Prepare a hot bath.
2.      Add one bath tea bag to the tub.
3.      Dry brush the skin while waiting 2-3 minutes for the bath infusion to prepare
4.      Bathe for 20-30 minutes.
5.      Be sure to drink plenty of water before, throughout, and after the bath.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread - weekend recipe

Pumpkin bread is very tasty this time of year especially when cranberries are around.  You can use whole berry cranberry sauce left overs to make this also, instead of the frozen cranberries.

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons Backyard Patch Cinnful Dessert Blend
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups granulated sugar
1 (15 ounce) can Pumpkin Puree
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans. 

Combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Combine sugar, pumpkin, eggs, vegetable oil and orange juice in large mixer bowl; beat until just blended. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Fold in cranberries. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pans. 

Bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
For 2018 the monthly recipe themes will be:

   January - Chicken Soup (ChickJan)
   February - Beef Stew (StewFeb)
   March - Jambalaya (JambMar)
   May - Ham and Shrimp Dishes (ShrHamMay)
   June - Bread recipes (BreadJun)
   July - Grilling (GrillJul)
   August- Garden Delights (GardAug)
   September - Salsa, Corn and Jelly (SCJSep)
   October - Squash Dishes  (SquashOct)
   November - Pumpkin Recipes 
   December - Herbal Cocktails 

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