Thursday, February 28, 2008

My 100th Post Giveaway

Well, here I am. At the 100 post mark. I never thought I would make it. Especially since I took off a few months this winter. But none the less, I persisted and now at least I can say I made it to the big round number. So to celebrate I am having a giveaway.

I started looking back at earlier posts and decided to clean up and add to my links and blogrolls. I also input more of my books in The Library Thing. (If you haven't done so, please take a stroll through my library. You'll find the link on the left.)

I came across a book that I haven't looked at in a while. It's called Souvenirs de Fleurs and it's a pressed flower keepsake book. I had forgotten how many flowers I had pressed and kept stored in the glycine pages. One thing I noticed was that I had neglected to journal about them though this book has blank pages just for that purpose. I do keep another journal where I notate my new purchases and trips to daylily gardens with my friend, Linda. But I am very lazy about other notes I should be keeping, such as the weather conditions, when I last purchased mulch, etc.

So here's the deal: Leave a comment on this post and tell me whether you keep a garden journal and what kind. Each comment will receive one entry. If you link back to my blog in your new post on your blog, let me know and you will be given two entries. What's the Prize? This wonderful new Garden Journal and 4 flower seed packets. The contest ends on Wednesday, March 5th at noon EST. Good luck and thank you for visiting me. Blogging this past year and a half has been a blast.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sassasfras Tea Means Comfort to Me

It's another snowy day in Michigan. Will it ever go away? There's only four more days until February is gone and then maybe we can move on. Until then I am looking for comfort food and drink.

When I married my husband his family introduced me to Sassafras tea. It was a big event every fall to search for the colored bushes, look for the mitten shaped leaves, and dig a few of the small, tender, roots. We washed and boiled the roots to make a big stew pot of tea. When it cooled, what was left over, after our first cup, would be kept in the refrigerator to be reheated later. Some roots would be put in the freezer for later use.

I'm a rootbeer lover so this tea was very tasty to me, but when we've mentioned it to some people, they are repulsed thinking of a hot rootbeer-flavored, non-carbonated drink. Over the many years of marriage, it has become one of my favorite teas, especially when the snow and wind are blowing. It is just so comforting to wrap my hands around that warm mug and smell that wonderful aroma. It's also naturally caffeine free so it's so good to drink before bed.

But alas, in 1960, way before my marriage, they discovered that the sassfras oil which is called safrole is a carcinogen. But of course, we didn't know anything about it or maybe we just dismissed the tests as not valid. My children grew up on the tea, but since it was a seasonal drink, they didn't have huge amounts. Once we acknowledged the carcinagens, whether the tests were accurate or not, we finally admitted we had to give up our precious drink. We couldn't risk our children's health.

And then we discovered Pappy's Sassasfras Tea. It comes as a concentrate and is safrole free. Oh how excited we were when we first discovered it. We told the whole family. When my sister-in-law would come up from Florida, she would buy a case to take home.

I'm am not in business with the Pappy's company or related in any way. But I suddenly realized that maybe some of you have never heard of Sassasfras Tea or Pappy's before. If you ever get a chance to sample some, "try it, you'll like it." In the mean time, I'll sit back with my warm, rootbeer-flavored drink and get cozy with a good book while I wait out winter.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

February - the Beauty and The Beast

Can you believe this? After everything I wrote about winter, and how I dislike it, this was the incredible scene I saw this morning when the sun came up. It's what I call "February - the Beauty and The Beast." This morning was The Beauty. It was only 3 degrees when I got up. And here in Michigan when there is no snow, still winds, and very cold temps, this is the sky we see. This is the same fantastic blue that I viewed. No photo shopping. I am in awe each and every time I see this sky color. It took my breath away (literally, because I had the back door open and it was too cold to breathe.) Now the temperature has climbed to 40 degrees. Hurray, spring really is coming soon. But I'm sure The Beast will rear it's ugly head a few more times before spring decides to stick around.

Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty if only we have the eyes to see them. John Ruskin

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Secret Garden

I always wanted to make a secret garden. I like the idea of bursting through bushes and trees to discover a hidden treasure of little blossoms shining in a ray of sunlight that had poked it's nose through the branches. Maybe there should be a bench or tree stump just large enough for lovers to sit on while they steal a kiss. And of course a gazebo, for picnic lunches or a nice cup of tea. And it would be perfect for taking shelter from a quick summer rain shower.

But the yard is only so big. And my husband is getting rather tired of my creative ideas for the one and only acre that we have. So I guess I'll give up my grand scheme and keep peace in the family. Besides, once I show it off to everyone I know, is it really a secret after all?

Did you ever think how a bit of land displays the character of the owner? Laura Engalls Wilder

Monday, February 18, 2008

Michigan in Winter

I don't know about you but I'm really ready for winter to be over this year. It has been one of the coldest on record, and the snow just keeps coming. I'm not much for being cold. I sit at my desk with two pair of socks on while I work, I just can't seem to get my feet warm. Why, oh why, do I live in Michigan?

Here's a poem that came to me through e-mail today. I'd like to share it with you.

Michigan Poem

It's winter here in Michigan
And the gentle breezes blow
Seventy miles an hour
At twenty-five below!

Oh, how I love dear Michigan
When the snow's up to your butt
You take a breath of winter
And your nose gets frozen shut.

Yes, the weather here is wonderful
So I guess I'll hang around
I could never leave my Michigan
'Cause I'm frozen to the ground!!

I guess, I'll just hang in there. February is the shortest month after all. But darn it! I see it's leap year and there's one extra day this year. Oh well, what's a measely 24 hours when a blooming garden is the prize?

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant. If we did not sometimes taste adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. Anne Bradstreet, 1655

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Who in the World is Jane Marie?

Who in the world is Jane Marie? It's me, that's all.

You first met me as Piana Nanna. Then I decided to come out of the closet, but not quite all the way. I wanted a little anonymity so I used only my middle name. Well as time went on, I saw several Maries out there. Some were posting comments on my site and I was posting on theirs.

I also write Tickling the Ivories, and I would suggest that the parents of my piano students read my blog. When I got no comments from them or even any kind of reaction, I questioned one person. She didn't realize that Marie was me -- even though my picture was there for all to see. How funny :)

So now that we really know each other, won't you please come back for a visit? I miss you. Jane Marie

Saturday, February 9, 2008

I'm Back -- Sort of

I'm back -- Well, sort of. It has been a crazy few months since I last wrote in October. The usual hard work, holiday rush, and a two-month bout with the dentist. Don't ask for the details, (he cut my tongue with his drill and I had to have a few stitches -- yes, in my tongue!!)

I'm fine now, but not quite ready for the retirement that I had planned. In May I will be out of the piano teacher business. I have been teaching since I was 15. I'll miss it, especially my students, but I have to find a way to simplify my life. I'll still have my regular job for a while, but I'm hoping to depart that business also, maybe in another year.

I've used some of my free time to organize my house by moving my sewing room from an old room that has not been remodeled since the '30s, (I live in a 100-year-old house) to a bedroom that I dismantled. Here are some shots of the move.

This is a wall in my old sewing room. Note the old wallpaper. It was a kitchen at one time when the house was divided into apartments.

My husband setting up my cutting table while I organized the sewing machine area.

Oh, how nice it will be to have all of my threads at my reach and so easy to see the colors.

My collection of Godey's prints from old magazines.

And the part that will make any quilter's heart beat is my "stash." That's what we call all of our fabrics. We can never have enough. For me, buying fabric is an obsession as much as buying daylilies. This is really just a portion of the cotton. I'm still organizing.

Now here's my room, completely finished.

This is my flannel board with blocks from the quilt that I am working on for my husband and an applique block that has been in the works for quite a while.

With this room of my own and the garden shed I got last summer, I am a happy woman.

I know this post has not been about herbs or my garden. I just thought you would like to know what I had been up to for the past 4 months. Thanks for sticking with me. I'll be posting now and again throughout the winter, about herbs and other things, and then more often when the garden blooms.